Friday, June 27, 2014

Grasping, Grungy and Gloating


The Harper Spin Machine marked Michael Ignatieff's return to Harvard this week by releasing an attack ad which it didn't use when he was Liberal leader. The idea was, "We told you he was just visiting."

Ignatieff's return to Canada turned out to be a very bad idea -- both for him and for the Liberal Party. Andrew Cohen writes in The Ottawa Citizen:

If he had wanted out three years ago, who could blame him? And now that he is leaving, who can blame him? What is there left for him in Conservative Canada except tears, taunts, cries and laments?

His political sabbatical was a disaster. He led the Liberals to the worst defeat in their history – worse than 1958, worse than 1984 – becoming the third party in Parliament, unprecedented in their long history.

Under Ignatieff, the party went from official opposition to prospective oblivion. If the Liberals run third again in the next election, behind the New Democrats, there will be pressure from progressives to merge with the NDP, as there was in 2011. And that will be the end of the Liberal Party of Canada.

When the Liberals convinced Ignatieff to return, they were repeating the same strategy they used when they convinced Mackenzie King -- comfortably ensconced in the United States  and working for the Rockefellers -- to return and save the country form Robert Borden and Arther Meighen.

But, unlike King, Ignatieff had been away too long. He had lost his feel for the country. Moreover, King was a consummate politician. Ignatieff was a teacher.

So Ignatieff has gone back to the comfort of teaching in the Ivy League. And the Conservatives  have gone back to their old attack ads -- which always revealed more about them than they did about those they targeted.

They are still grasping, grungy  and -- when they succeed -- gloating.


the salamander said...

.. with all that Canada and Canadians offer, what exactly has Stephen Harper accomplished with the opportunity of a lifetime..? And one would suppose the question also applies to his associates, MP's, energy partners, donors, enablers, lawyers, apparatchiks, pundits & partisan operators..

How exactly did you enhance Canada or the larger world while entrusted with such a daunting opportunity and challenge?

Unfortunately, the list of abject failure is stunning in its scope.. and the list of fails accellerated immediately on acheiving a majority government in conjunction with an appalling electoral fraud never before seen in Canada.

Quite possibly, the only positive thing Stephen Harper and his complicits could do for Canada now, is to start admitting to every file, every error, every obstruction, every deceit.. so the rest of us can start to repair the damage, if possible.

If the so called Harper Government can be looked at as some sort of governmental infrastructure, built upon an idealogical and ethical blueprint.. we need to accept that is about to come crashing down upon us.

Flawed materials, coverups, fraud.. cronyism, payoffs, sellouts.. and whacked together based on one single person's juvenile sandbox 'vision' .. or thinly veiled anger..

A group of primary school, high school & university students working with a cadre of exemplary citizens could 'run' this country better... Goodness gracious, when will this complete Harper fallacy just collapse and roll over, so se can drag it all to a sanitary landfill?

Owen Gray said...

What we have in Harper, salamander, is a vivid illustration of what happens to a country when its leaders accept on faith Ayn Rand's proposition that selfishness is a virtue.

rumleyfips said...

Everyone seems to ignor two facts. Academics routinely take jobs all over the world; lots of American professors work in Canada and vice versa. Mike's new gig is a good one, right at the top of the heap.

Owen Gray said...

The simple truth is that Ignatieff is doing what he's good at, rumley. And he's doing it in a place where he will have some influence.

You can't fault him for that.

The Mound of Sound said...

Ignatieff combined arrogance and incompetence. His unwillingness to recognize his total lack of political instincts was unforgivable. He sabotaged Dion and had himself annointed leader and then revealed he had no idea what to do. He thought an opposition leader learned politics "on the job" and said that quite openly after more than a year at the Liberal helm.

Yet Ignatieff never learned anything until the voting public turfed him from Stornoway to Motel 6 out on the Gloucester highway.

He can never be forgiven for how he handled the great global meltdown of 2008. Harper, fearing for his life, prorogued Parliament. Ignatieff took that as an extended Christmas holiday, an opportunity to finish up a meaningless book about his maternal ancestors, the Grants.

Canada was facing the greatest economic calamity since the Depression and the leader of the opposition responded with a book about the Grants. He could have brainstormed with the greatest minds in Canada to formulate a response to the Great Recession, a Liberal stimulus budget. The country needed just that and the Liberals owed that to us.

When Parliament returned Ignatieff came with empty hands. When Harper presented his own hapless stimulus budget, Ignatieff, having no ideas of his own, was left no choice but to support the government. Iggy's rejoinder was that he was putting Harper "on probation."

Ignatieff could have tabled a Liberal stimulus budget, one that actually spoke to the concerns of anxious Canadians. He could have given Harper the unacceptable option of adopting the Liberal budget or be defeated on a confidence vote. Ignatieff could have waged a campaign on a viable Liberal budget.

He failed his party and he failed the country and, for that, Ignatieff deserves no empathy from anyone.

Owen Gray said...

I agree that, as a politician, Ignatieff was totally incompetent, Mound. He was not wise enough to know his limitations; and so, yes, he was arrogant.

He should have said no when the people from Toronto came calling -- and stayed at Harvard.

Askingtherightquestions said...

Owen. I really like the Salamanders comment on what Harper has accomplished with his mandate. Ignatief is an intellectual and his move back to Harvard should come as no surprise to anyone who knows even a little about academia -he has gone back to a top rated position at one of America's greatest universities (not university of Calgary!!). He gave it a shot and realized too late that being a politician is quite different than thinking about policy. But he response by the Harper gang both during the election run-up and now is really telling. And I think it represents far more than the selfish libertarianism of Rand, Owen! Many of us have speculated about the roots of Harper's sociopathy for years now but it struck me today while listening to Simon Potter, a well respected lawyer interviewed on PnP on CBC where he described his surprise at he governments attack on the judicial branch (particularly the Supreme Court). Harper behaves as if he has NO respect for the law (if it differs from his views), NO respect for his opponents in the House, NO respect for the public service of Canada (unless it can be used to support his own policies) and ultimately, NO respect for Canadians who are not CPC voters! Most actions of his caucus mirror his own sociopathy -I have yet to see a CPC minister enter a debate on policy without using an ad hominem attack!! What a miserable, vindictive, narrow thinking bunch of folks. I realize many of these people don't deserve to reside in the same place as PM Harper but by association , they diminish themselves, as much, as Salamander points out as Harper has done Canada.

Owen Gray said...

M of S has written for sometime that Harper is a sociopath, Asking. Harper believes that a majority government gives him the privilege of re-writing any and all rules.

Our prime minister is an overgrown child.

CK said...

Wow! Cons going ga ga giddy with tax payer funded ads issuing an "I told you so"?? Just wow! What was the point of that exercise?

Can we really blame Ignatieff for leaving? A job at Harvard is something no academic can turn down. It's obviously what he is good at and should stick with that. What was he supposed to do in the eyes of Cons? Stick around in limbo, turn down a prestigious job offer to prevent the "I told you so"? from a party that is petty?

MoS, the Liberals couldn't present a budget as they were not in gov't. We hear a lot from NDP, for example, how they propose a bunch of stuff for the gov't. Same thing-- not their job to propose. It is their job to oppose.

Liberals wouldn't have been able to present a budget.

As for that coalition, Ignatieff, along with everyone else's, including Michaelle Jean at the time, hands were tied.

Think about it. We progressives tend to live in our own bubble much to our own detriment. Not enough time just talking with co-workers, neighbours, family, acquaintances, etc. The inconvenient truth was that the proposed coalition was met from all partisan stripes, really, with a rabid reaction. I remember a woman crying on the radio about it.

Sure, those of us who follow politics understand how our Westminster parliament is supposed to work to varying degrees, understand that the proposed coalition would've been a valid option, but there was no guarantee that then GG Jean would've accepted it. Especially what we know about that fateful prorogation.

Next, that coalition was fragile at best (assuming Jean would've accepted, but looking at the prorogation that followed, it's a safe assumption that under duress, she would've refused). Even at it's planning, we hear them all sniping at each other, publicly. It wouldn't have lasted one month. An election would've been held, and yes, given the public's rabid reaction to this coalition, Harper would've gotten a majority back then.

Next, that prorogation. What could Ignatieff have done to stop it? Nothing. No matter who was leading the official opposition, no one could've stopped it.

In Lawrence Martin's "Harperland" and an interview with (I believe it was Don Newman), John Baird had made it clear that had Jean refused the prorogation, they (cons) were prepared to go to the queen with their evidence of a rabid public solidly against that coalition, and had her removed in favour of someone "more compliant". There is also the reason Jean would've likely refused the coalition.

Yes, Jean chose her job over principal. But it was what it was and Ignatieff can't be blamed for all that.

liberalandlovingit said...

...and looks like complete a-hole,

and total DICK, for doing so.


Mr Ignatieff campaigned,

as WE did, on ethics...

Too bad. So sad. Bye Canada.

It's a lonely road, Mr. DL.

Owen Gray said...

I'll let Mound respond, Loving It.

Owen Gray said...

I can't blame Ignatieff for heading back to Harvard, CK. But your recounting of recent history reminds me of how badly we on the left underestimated Harper.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes,CK, the Libs could not have formally tabled a budget. What they could have done was first presented their proposals to the public and then introduced their measures as amendments to the budget. They didn't. The Ignatieff Liberals returned after the 'holiday' utterly unprepared and incapable of doing anything but supporting Harper's wasteful and ineffective 'pinata budget.' It was perhaps the greatest failure of the Liberal party in my memory and I go back to Pearson.

L&L, when the country is being overwhelmed by a global economic calamity, a political party vying for the public confidence needs to come up with something a hell of a lot better than ethics - or funding for the arts or daycare. Ignatieff did nothing to connect with the voting public. He didn't speak to their concerns. He embarrassed himself, his party and its supporters when he proclaimed he was putting Harper "on probation" only to later support his excesses on vote after vote after vote. The man was spineless, visionless, arrogant and most unforgivably, lazy. Ignatieff earned the misfortune that befell the Liberal Party. Until he showed up I was a lifelong Liberal.

Harper was clear from the outset that his main ambition was to move Canada's political centre far and permanently to the right. Ignatieff and Layton collaborated with Harper in not defending the centre or the left and, instead, moving their own parties well to the right. Don't try to feed me fairy tales about ethics. That's bullcrap.

Anonymous said...


I have to side with MoS in this thread regarding what Ignatief could and should have been doing in 2008 (although the coalition thing I tend to agree with you about). The only selling point I had for Ignatief in 2011 was that he was still far better than Harper for PM, aside from that I had nothing, and was one of those who was holding my nose to say even that much. I at that point couldn't being myself to support Layton given his role in enabling the Harper regime from the outset, and it goes against my own principles to want to see someone profit from villany, which I consider Layton's clear alignment with Harper to destroy the Libs instead of protecting the country from the greatest threat it had ever known federally, as my opinion on that is well known to you and most everyone else here already.

I was one of those who did not underestimate Harper and did my best to show why the rest of the progressives and centrists shouldn't either, but alas I ended up being the full Cassandra as it were. I not only appreciated the threat, I called where his true secret agenda was all along, and that was on process, rule of law, and abuse of power. Too many Canadians had the "it can't happen here" blindspot, including far too many politically informed ones who really should have known better, and so here we are.

Ignatief is also a major player in why Harper is where he is as MoS accurately to my mind lays out. When he lost to Dion did he choose to work with him? No, he instead chose to either direct or at the minimum allow his forces within the Libs to undermine and factionalize Dion's leadership helping make the case for Harper that Dion was not a real leader and that the Libs were continuing the Martin/Chretien infighting, and I found it was the Ignatief partisans who were the really nasty ones for that as opposed to the Rae malcontents. He further weakened the Libs once he became leader in the way he botched 2008, again as MoS lays out, because he failed to show he understood what was happening nor did he propose an alternate approach top show he and his party were ready and qualified to lead if/when Harper was brought down.

Ignatief is next to Layton the man most single responsible for the failure of preventing the rise of Harper to PM and then majority PM from the opposition side of things IMHO. He placed his ambitions and ego, just like Layton, ahead of the national welfare/good, and has richly earned the scorn he gets. My issues with him are with his political career choices, as an academic he is fine, but he never should have stepped outside of that world, he oh so clearly was never equipped for it, something I know I saw right from the outset, I always thought he was a disaster waiting to happen for the Libs and said so from when he first made his move to Canada.

I don't blame Ignatief for leaving I blame him for coming in the first place!

Scotian (using another computer, hence the use of anonymous)

liberalandlovingit said...

Iggy tried. Put himself out there.

Took it like a decent human-being.

Jack shoulders some weight-

re: PM Martin.

I'm sticking with my fairy-tales.