Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's Not Ignatieff's Problem - It's Yours

The problem goes deeper than Michael Ignatieff. The Liberal Party's real problem are the Liberal Party members responsible for putting Ignatieff at the helm. That's Jim Travers' take on the Liberal malaise. The worst part is - he's absolutely right.

From a distance, Ignatieff was easily mistaken for [a] champion. A cosmopolitan public intellectual with patrician bloodlines, the writer and professor blended exotic success with domestic roots.

All that was missing was the discipline of due diligence. Locked on to Ignatieff in much the same way they blindly fastened their fortune to rusty John Turner, Liberals either ignored or dismissed available evidence contradicting the consensus and conventional wisdom. Too lightly weighed was the absence of experience in a craft that mercilessly punishes on-the-job training. Too easily skimmed was the library of awkward Ignatieff musings on the American Empire, the Iraq war and the utility of torture. Too fast forgotten was the revealing use of "we" when talking to southern neighbours wary Canadians know as "them."

Every portrait needs a frame and Liberals had none for Ignatieff. A party that hadn't seriously considered its policies, principles or purpose for nearly 20 years could only wistfully compare him to Pierre Trudeau and consider his candidacy in the context of Liberal prospects in the next election.

The Liberal conclusion, accelerated by the Christmas coalition crisis, was that the more seasoned and campaign ready Rae was too burdened by his NDP resumé and that Ignatieff was the answer. Given a broader choice, Canadians are proving harder to convince.

Travers is right on this one, dead right. It was almost stomach-churning to listen to all the IgLibs swooning over "Michael" and praising the brilliance of the "war room" guys all the while the party stagnated and fumbled and their vaunted Michael slid beneath Harper in public acceptance.

Travers is right that there's an arrogant indifference to the Liberal Party and its members about policy and principles and purpose even liberalism itself. Many Liberal bloggers I've observed are far too preoccupied in their party reclaiming power to discuss what the LPC ought to do if returned to power.

Michael (swoon) will unveil our policy when Harper calls the next election, right? Whose policies? Michael's? Is this guy who unequivocally supported the brutal conquest of Gaza, who can't see beyond the Athabasca Tar Sands, who somehow thinks Canada and the world need a muscular Canadian military presence, who supported the illegal invasion of Iraq, who made so many other questionable calls along the way - he's going to tell the party what its policies will be?

Oh please, spare me.

I, for one, hope there is an early election call and I hope in the wake of that election the LPC membership emerges with an appreciation that the Liberal Party of Canada without liberalism is an empty vessel the Canadian voter will not embrace.


Anonymous said...

The bad news is that there is no way we will win the next election with Iggy. The good news is that he'll be tossed like a hot potato once the election is over and we can finally have a leadership race and party renewal. What were the Iggiots thinking?

The Mound of Sound said...

What were they thinking indeed. I wasn't happy with Dion but when Iggy ascended to the throne I decided I would approach it with an open mind and give him a chance to earn my support. I was looking for substantive liberalism and it didn't take long for it to become obvious that wasn't to be.

I fear the Liberal Party has fallen into the hands of people not concerned about liberalism and what that means. These are people content to have the LPC play Democrat to the Tories' Republican.

It comes down to progressivism. That's something that's been largely stomped out of the Democratic Party, with the death of Kennedy and the sidelining of people like Kucinich. It's why the Dems, with their super majority in Congress won't back a public option healthcare package.

The Liberals need to have a beating heart. They need something of a firebrand who will pull to the centre-left as hard as Harper has pulled to the far right.

Anonymous said...

(Same anonymous guy here) I agree with most of what you said. But don't forget, Chretien's secret was that he pulled together the centre left AND the centre right. Iggnatieff so far is only trying to pull together the centre right and is failing even to pull together the centre since virtually by definition the centre comprises about 35-40% of the population.

Mark Richard Francis said...

The LPC had it too easy when the Right was divided. Malaise set in. Now the shoe is on the other foot. Iggy got in riding a crisis. He did not earn his leadership. I do not see him earning the PMO unless there is a complete collapse of the Conservatives; which is say, he'll fall into the job again, rather than earning it.

There is no quick fix. The party needs defining beyond 'we can do better.' The party itself needs to do better before it can earn the right to do better for Canadians.

I have nothing to do with it anymore. The LPC needs to earn my trust and time first.

The Mound of Sound said...

No argument here, Mark. The Liberal Party of Canada - liberalism = pretty much nothing. I, too, have parted company with the LPC and want nothing to do with the IgLibs who've brought the party to this awful state where gaining the support of the Canadian electorate depends on Harper somehow imploding.

Anonymous said...

(Same anonymous guy). I quit after there was no leadership race. As bad as Dion may have been, leadership was not the primary problem with the Liberal Party. I'll rejoin the party once it changes - or I'll join for a short while for the next leadership review vote.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, it's getting awfully crowded in this boat. If the LPC won't stand for liberalism in Canada who will?