What began as a few voices of discontent is today a cacophany. It's time for Michael Ignatieff to do something - anything. This apprenticeship should have been over a year ago. He should have fielded policies that would at least unify the Liberal ranks even if they weren't entirely palatable to the voting public. It's going to take more than policies to recapture public support at this point. It's going to take a revitalized, re-energized Liberal Party that looks and acts like it's ready to govern Canada, something that, for years, has been lacking.
What is a Liberal any more? I'm damned if I know. Whatever it is today to me is certainly unrecognizable as what I understood Liberal to be these past forty years.
Now there's talk about mergers and coalitions. The centre-right Ignatieff Liberals have become so lame that the Toronto Star's Tom Walkom says that they should consider a coalition - with the Harper Conservatives:
"...surely the only coalition that makes sense is one that joins the Liberals and Conservatives.
This is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Rhetoric aside, the Liberals under Michael Ignatieff are far closer to the Conservatives than they are to Jack Layton’s New Democrats.
The governing and official opposition parties may quibble over details. But in broad terms, they are on the same page."
Walkom's right - the IgLibs and the Harper Conservatives are very much on the same page. We're sort of drifting into American politics. Harper has long wanted to transform the Conservatives into northern Republicans while Ignatieff seems intent on following suit to give the Libs a makeover into northern Democrats. Those are pretty stomach-churning ideas, aren't they?
If you can't believe this, Walkom has an interesting analysis to back up his point. Read it here.
An editorial in the same paper argues that it's time that Ignatieff actually did something.
...the Liberal/NDP merger talk may just be a smokescreen for a move to oust Ignatieff.
That would be premature. Ignatieff is the party’s third leader in just four years. The Liberals can’t keep changing leaders the way Cito Gaston summons pitchers from the bullpen.
But there is no question that Ignatieff needs to raise his game. His 18 months as party leader have been marked by more gaffes than gains. After an initial upward swing under Ignatieff, the polls show the Liberals slumping back into the 20s, or Stéphane Dion territory. The polls also show the public doesn’t see Ignatieff as prime ministerial.
"The public doesn't see Ignatieff as prime ministerial." That's an understatement. He's not. So why then are so many Liberals happy to follow him to the right, to Harper country? What gives Ignatieff the right to so warp the Liberal Party of Canada, to render it toxic to its traditional progressive component? He's forfeiting far more at the centre/centre-left than he can ever hope to steal from Harper on the right. He's misreading his party and the Canadian people. Liberal leaders past at least tried to be attuned to the Canadian voting public. Not this guy.
I think the Toronto Star is wrong in claiming the Libs can't change leaders at this point. In fact I think that's exactly what they should be doing only this time vet the candidates properly. If the right person isn't already within the active Liberal ranks, start looking outside. It's not that the Liberals can't afford another leader as much as that they can't afford another Dion or another Ignatieff. The public has sampled those offerings and said a resounding "No." They won't have it.
Another factor arguing for a leadership change as soon as practicable is that someone has to reverse Ignatieff's reckless turn to the right. The right doesn't need a second party, it already has the Harper Conservatives. The right is a place where the Liberal Party of Canada can only go to die. If the party belonged there you would see a different result in the polls and we've seen countless polls over the past twelve months that this point cannot be in doubt.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe Ignatieff can still pull something out of his hat. Well this is his last chance to do just that. If he's got a progressive gene in his DNA, this is the time to show it. If not he ought to see if he can get his old job back at Harvard.
Here's something Ignatieff or Layton could be addressing. Following is a note I received from my friend in England who happens to work for the BG.
"Cameron has been looking at the Canada model for cutting spending and is very impressed that you managed to turn a debt into a surplus in 4 years!!!We are all getting fed up not knowing what's going to happen workwise it's still watch this space.........."
We have a surplus??? When did that happen?? Nothing like politicians going to foreign countries and lying about home.
Why oh why can't we get it right? There's a golden opportunity here. It's the same when Paul Martin was in power. The then Minister of Finance was interviewed in Singapore regarding Canada's huge mega surplus and what was Canada going to do with it. The Minister said: "We will be putting most of it into Health Care and French Education across the country". Did that happen? Not on your life. MOS, they are all tarred with the same brush. It's all about an attitude that has developed where ethics be dammed. It's like doctors in Alberta working three days a week because they need to spend time with their families. And we wonder why there is a shortage of doctors in this province and people are dying or put in peril from medical inattention? Politicans with huge expense accounts so they may fly from Ottawa to whereever so as to spend more time with their families on weekends. What about the Military? Aww yes...they are expendable. The values of the younger, Harper's age and younger has changed. They just don't care except for themselves. We are greeding ourselves into crisis and the crisis is going to be for those who are only making it. Perhaps this is the way we will reduce the world's population making it so much nicer for those who multi have.
We actually had a surplus for most of the Chretien and Martin years. We used it to pay off a good chuck of our debt. When Harper took over he inherited that surplus and promptly cut revenues and turned it into a massive deficit.
On healthcare, few remember it now but Martin had a brilliant initiative that would have prioritized funding to "major" diseases - cancer, heart disease, etc. Less critical care, such as acne treatment, would be on a second tier of priority. To me that made perfect sense.
Paul Martin is also largely responsible as to why we didn't sink as far into the global recession as everybody else; he never caved in to the American pressures of deregulation of the banking system.
If Steve had his precious majority, no doubt he would have happily deregulated everything to make his mentor Georgie happy.
Give him his majority now, and I'm sure he would still deregulate the financial industry.
As for the Liberals swinging far right as you claim; well, not nearly like Harpercons that's for sure.
Check the above links: there are other links reminding us of the real Steve as well as Marci MacDonald's new book, "The Armageddon Factor".
Somehow, I don't think Iggy would even be remotely as bad.
And another reality to face is that, thanks to today's MSM which is now conservative for the most part, More Canadians have shifted to the right of center. Steve is just waiting for that last hard right shove. Fox News North may well just do the trick.
Unfortunately, Liberals can't go too far to the left and that's why such a merger with NDP would be a disaster.
Our only choices these days would be center right or Steve's hard right.
I'm sorry, but Canadians have never really been all that progressive: Mulroney's two massive majorities with a third finish for Broadbent proves as much.
The sooner we realize that fact the better we know exactly what we're up against.
It was quite the wake up call for me.
Iggnatieffs biggest problems are of his own making. He seems to go out of his way to alienate moderates as evidenced with his stance on Gaza and his flopping about on the long gun registry. His propensity for chasing after insignificant issues also makes him come off as largely irrelevant in the eyes of too many voters. As shown in his personal polling figures.
Those things aren't as much a reflection on the party as they are on him directly, but enough of his aura hangs over the party to negatively affect it's numbers.
It appears that the plan is to have no significant plan and just outlast Harper. By not taking a position on anything overly controversial, and being kind of this mundane guy who poses no threat, the thinking would be that he will just slide in and take Harpers place once the public grow tired of his schtick. That based on the assumption there really isn't anyone else who the public could choose to lead the country.
The longer this approach goes on though, the more he becomes a persona non grata, and the more likely Jean will reach for his throat.
"...while Ignatieff seems intent on following suit to give the Libs a makeover into northern Democrats." That is giving too much credit to Ignatieff. He has hell no idea what he is doing. When it comes to politics he is not with it.
CK, we've had this argument before. Until you can show me that the Canadian people, of their own volition, have shifted to the right I won't believe it. They've certainly been pushed right, by Harper pretending to be a centrist, and by Ignatieff shamelessly but the voting public hasn't exactly handed either of those clowns the brass ring now has it?
Lord knows I'm no defender of Lyin' Brian but he did have his progressive side. He stood up to Thatcher and Reagan on South Africa and he did pursue environmental initiatives. You can do that and still be a crook.
Even Richard Nixon, by today's standards, was remarkably progressive. His staffer, David Gergen, lamented that today Nixon would be considered a pinko and couldn't hope to get a Republican nomination. That's a big reason for Gergen abandoning the GOP for the Dems.
I don't believe the Canadian public has shifted to the right. It's just that the crappy Cons and equally crappy IgLibs haven't given them any other choice. Neither party is standing up for progressivism and, after 40+ years of loyalty to the LPC, I'll never vote Liberal again until that changes. It gives me no satisfaction at all to know that there are plenty more just like me.
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