Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Open Letter to Michael Ignatieff

What follows is a letter I sent by e-mail today to the Liberal Party Leader, Michael Ignatieff. I will promptly post any reply he may chose to make.

Dear Mr. Ignatieff.

Congratulations on the success you're showing. It looks as though you have a fairly good chance at becoming the next prime minister.

I'm writing because I'm troubled by a couple of aspects of your leadership that, for the only time in more than 40-years, are undermining my ability to support the Liberal Party. I know that I'm not alone in these concerns.

I gravely dislike your tendency, when you get on the wrong side of an issue, to dismiss your critics or impugn their motives. You did this when you had to retreat from your support for the totally illegal conquest of Iraq. More recently you did this same thing on the Tar Sands. After declaring the Tar Sands the cornerstone of Canadian prosperity for the 21st century and a key to national unity itself, you smeared Tar Sands critics within the Liberal ranks as being anti-Alberta. Do you really believe that is the only motivation anyone could have for being steadfastly opposed to the Tar Sands? Your blithe suggestion that environmental concerns relating to the Tar Sands were a mere matter of carbon emission controls betrayed either a grave lack of understanding or an indifference to this environmental disaster.

Mr. Ignatieff, our country and our world are facing enormous problems. When you were born the earth's population was about two million. Today it's nearly seven and headed within just a few decades to somewhere in the high nines. As the experts say, we've exceeded our carrying capacity. We're eating our seed corn. Our global, ecological deficit is manifest in our collapsed fisheries, spreading deforestation, species extinction, desertification and salination of coastal regions, resource exhaustion, a looming and global freshwater crisis, air, water and land contamination and global security threats from terrorism to nuclear proliferation to disease migration.

Canada is blessed. The worst of these impacts are being felt elsewhere but they are spreading, in some cases quite rapidly, and their reach is global. Yet we're focused on but one problem - global warming and, even on that, we're not getting beyond the talking phase. As Jared Diamond explains in his excellent book Collapse it does mankind little good to solve one of these problems. Each and every one of them must be solved if it is not to present an existential threat.

There are organizations that take this very seriously even if their political masters do not. Among them are the Pentagon and the British Ministry of Defence. On the CBC programme Ideas, Gwynne Dyer presented many of their voices in a 3-part series entitled Climate Wars. If you genuinely care about Canada and our children's future, you need to listen to these. You'll find them at this link:

There's really nothing new in them except for one thing. Dyer explains, very convincingly explains, how the prospects of getting the necessary international consensus to respond to our problems is going to be derailed by war. In fact, the odds of this happening are very high. That is because some very large and very powerful nations feed their people from farmland irrigated by glacier-fed rivers. The stability of China and India very much depends on the Himalayan glaciers and those are right now in full retreat. Not only will water shortages destabilize China and India but they will put them at odds with their respective neighbours, Russia and Pakistan. One thing all four of those nations have in common is that each fields a nuclear arsenal. I assume you have a working knowledge of the theories of nuclear escalation and what is commonly known as nuclear winter so I won't go into them here.

History abounds with nations or tribes that have collapsed when they're suddenly overtaken by an inability to feed their people. One of Dyer's guests familiar with these things says that each of these entities had one thing in common. When their resources became inadequate, they attacked their neighbours. Wars of subsistence at times transform into wars of extermination.

But Dyer's series isn't entirely negative, not at all. He concludes that we need to get off fossil fuels now. Not sometime later in this century but now. Then his guests go on to describe alternate energy sources that are both practical and affordable and either non-carbon emitting or carbon neutral that are proven and available today. Two powerful forces stand in the way. One is obstruction by the fossil fuel industry. The other is an absence of political leadership. One who foresees projects such as the Tar Sands continuing through the 21st century would seem to fall into that second category.

For the sake of Canada and the sake of our children and their children, I would ask you to listen to those radio documentaries and use them to inform your opinion. You seek the position to lead our country into the future. The Climate War broadcasts show the leadership we need so urgently if we are to have a future and what probably lies in store in just a decade or two if we don't get it. I urge you to visit these issues not as an annoyance or a burdensome obligation but as a genuine opportunity, perhaps the best you will ever have, to become the great leader Canada needs at this very moment in time.

Thank you for giving this your consideration.



LeDaro said...

Good letter. However, the population you meant 2 billion and not million.

Environment is not the only problem Iggy is on the wrong side. His stands on geo-political situation are alarming over and above Iraq.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi LD. I don't know if you've listed to the broadcasts linked through this letter. If you have you'll know that Ignatieff's position on anything and everything else might be rendered irrelevant if we don't get solid leadership on the environmental threats.

If you haven't listened to the "Climate Wars" programmes, you should. Everyone should because in all likelihood we're riding on a runaway train and, right now, nobody's going for the brakes.

LeDaro said...

MoS, I do not disagree with your reasoning on evironment. All I am saying is that Iggy is a dead loss all around. If he gets elected PM he will be a four years painful Igg(or Itch)

I am seriouly considering to vote for Rhino Party.

penlan said...


The link doesn't seem to be working. Is there some other way to get to the site?

penlan said...

When I click on the link - tried it a few times - another page opens saying the "address is invalid".

Hope you get a reply to your letter. And I agree with you, with the seriousness of this crisis then everything else becomes irrelevant.

Fish said...

I can't get the link to open either.

Good letter though Mound.

The Mound of Sound said...

Just went to the CBC web site and copied it again. I'll post it here and see if I can get it to work:


sassy said...

I think this is the link that MoS is directing the reader to.


The Mound of Sound said...

Okay, that seems to have fixed it. I did have to copy the URL and paste it in but it worked. You can also get there indirectly by going to www.cbc.ca/ideas

sassy said...

Sorry MoS, our comments must have cyber-crossed.

Anonymous said...

I hope that Ignatieff tells you to take a hike and you do.

Take LeDaro and Penlan with you.

LeDaro said...

Anon, is that the best you can do to defend your hero Iggy? You further hurt his cause if he is any cause at all.

The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks Sassy, yes. It's not surprising that Anon took no exception to the contents of this letter. Apparently he would prefer that our leaders simply ignore these problems - and their responsibility to this country and our people. That's the sort of toxic mentality that's really crept into the Liberal Party.

LMA said...

A very timely letter. It is my dream that Ignatieff and Obama could one day work together to set environmental policies for clean air and clean water for all of North America. Time is running out and the next decade is critical. Just tonight Frontline aired a doc entitled "Poisoned Waters" which outlined how runoff from industry, agriculture and development is contaminating the food chain and drinking water for millions of people in the US. We need leaders who will act now, and there is no hope as long as Harper is PM.

The Mound of Sound said...

LMA we have the same thing here with elevated levels of toxins appearing in the blood of our Orca. It's the result of bio-concentration. Plankton absorb the toxin. Krill eat scads of plankton, absorbing the toxins. Krill get eaten by herring and it agains concentrates from the prey into the predator. Then salmon and then the Orca. I guess we had no idea about this when the Brittania mines were leeching toxins out into Howe Sound.

Oemissions said...

I think you were too polite.
Good luck in getting a response.
Ever since my first letter to him about the GE/GMO label vote which he said: Nay to, and then letters about the Coalition, and then Gaza, and next the tarsands and his lack of moral fortitude, on these issues,I haven't even received a notification that my letter was received. Lunn, my MP sportily sends a very personalized style letter to me everytime I send him something,assuring me that the Conservatives are certainly giving attention to the issue and informing me of what they have done or intend to do.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, the I hate Iggy group and I want everyone else to hate him too are back at it.

Oh, and if you support Iggy you are a very bad person.

Imagine spending every day of your life trying to make people hate someone. Shallow life I must say.

Good grief - grow up.


The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry Lyn but you really have to get over your delerium. This isn't about hating Ignatieff, not at all. It's about what could easily be the most serious threat Canada has ever faced, one that appears to be approaching rapidly, and the leadership Canada most clearly needs to meet its challenges. Now if you think that calling upon Mr. Ignatieff to do that, especially when some of his key pronouncements fly in the face of it, then you are indeed delusional. Unlike some, I will always put my country before the Liberal Party of Canada. Those who don't are really, really creepy. Sorry, Lyn.

By the way, Lyn, what part of these broadcasts did you find most interesting. Relax, I'm sure you didn't listen to them at all.

Oemissions said...

Grow up?
Who mentioned hate?
These are issues of importance.
I shared my thoughts with others in the Liberal Party in my constituency.
I discussed resolutions and sentiments on En Famille. Did you?
Many people in the Liberal Party are having doubts about Mr. Ignatieff as a leader. Some of them are expressing it.Does that mean they are hate groupies?
When people in the Liberal Party turned on Dion, was that hate?
Did you also post over at Chuckman?Anon
Why not address some of the criticisms rather than bag it all up as hate.?.

The Mound of Sound said...

Oem, the bitter comments posted here by Anon and Lyn brought back an issue I've thought about on and off for years. What is the place of partisanship in the face of great challenges?

Our political spectrum is healthy enough that we can indulge in heated, even at times angry debates over philosophical questions running the gamut from human rights to foreign policy. We get most of those arguments settled at the ballot box. In other countries, they're sometimes settled with machetes or secret police.

But democratic freedom to disagree fluctuates, just as political philosophies fluctuate in response to external factors. In difficult times we tend to become more cohesive as the necessity for responding to the challenge leaves less room for arguing our sometimes petty differences.

Messrs. Chretien and Martin showed that. Canada was staring into a fiscal abyss when they took over from Mulroney. They assessed the severity of the threat, crafted a response and implemented policies that appeared decidedly non-partisan. The opposition howled but everyone knew they were doing the right thing. They turned it around, balanced the budget, reined in spending, started running surpluses and paying down the debt. The legacy of their economic prudence is plain today in the health of Canadian banks compared to bank failures in the United States and Europe.

What Chretien and Martin did was display of genuine leadership in the face of a dire situation. It was a bitter pill for Canadians to swallow but, due to fine leadership, we accepted that it was necessary.

In difficult times I think we come to regard fierce partisanship as undesirable. We want our problems answered and we're a lot less picky about anyone so long as they're willing to do just that.

Perhaps that's why my support for the LPC has plummeted. Until recently I thought the Liberal Party tended to walk tall with its head up where it could scan the horizon and spot problems and things that needed fixing. Now it seems our head is down. We're so busy looking for cracks in the pavement that could, just possibly, affect us in the next election that we're no longer focusing on what's going on. Looking after the fortunes of the Liberal Party isn't enough any longer.

LeDaro said...

Hey Lyn, enjoy your love affair with Iggy. Others do not hate him but hate what he stands for or crawls for – by crawl I mean anything to get a vote and principles just melt away.