Immigration Clandestine!

Voila! The latest classy attack ad from The Harper Government® (or is it the Conservative Party? Whatever… same difference these days, apparently) aimed at the Quebec “market” accusing Ignatieff and Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe – without even so much as a shred of out-of-context “proof” – of being opposed to tougher penalties for smugglers of illegal immigrants and wanting to transform the country’s border into… a leaky sieve!

Now you don’t possibly think that the Conservateur could be cynically pandering to the more xenophobic elements of their rural “base” in Quebec, do you? Perish the thought!

Ad Wars

Perhaps nothing better illustrates the desperately tedious nature of the political battle the Conservatives and Liberals are presently engaged in than their latest round of duelling negative adverts:

Let’s just say at the outset that they’re both awful.

Released for no apparent reason, other than maybe to “poison the well” ahead of parliament resuming business after its absurdly long holiday break, each one tackles what is surely the lowest possible common denominator in politics these days: Taxes!

The Conservative ad is a petty, malicious piece of work filled with assertions that are dubious at best. For example, the attention-getting claim that Ignatieff apparently supported a $75 “iPod tax” turns out to be a complete fabrication based on nothing more than “some stillborn ideas put forward by Canada’s copyright board” (to quote David Akin). In other words, it’s a flat out LIE. Bookending the ad’s familiar collection of dated, out of context quotes (go check the source of that oft-repeated “tax and spend” one from 2004 and tell me that he wasn’t being somewhat facetious in describing himself that way…) are the obligatory sleazebag attacks on Ignatieff’s patriotism.

As for the Liberal ad, other than being half as short, it’s no better. After five years of fairly unexceptional minority governance, it’s quite feeble that Lib strategists are still compelled to demonize Harper as a dictatorial bogeyman of some sort. What’s truly insulting about this ad however, is its presumption that viewers are complete slackwits with no recollection of recent history. In fact, it was the Liberal Party under Paul Martin that initiated the process of steadily ratcheting down the corporate tax rate. A policy, by the way, that both he and his immediate successor enthusiastically touted as a means of attracting new business investment and promoting job growth in Canada. So it’s more than a little hypocritical (and technically inaccurate) to now indignantly claim “Harper is giving your tax dollars to the largest corporations”…

Is it any wonder that most people are turned off by politics when our two leading parties waste their time and resources excreting miserable pieces of shit like this?

Rae on Ignatieff (Part II)

Another bit of a tease, as it turns out; in which, despite repeated attempts by his dogged interlocutor, Bob refuses to get drawn into a recriminatory discussion about the failure of the coalition to mount an effective opposition to the Conservative government.

Rae on Ignatieff (Part I)

Bob talks to Paul Jay of The Real News Network about the events following the last federal election that led to Michael Ignatieff becoming interim leader of the Liberal Party. There’s nothing new here, but it sets the stage for the second part of the interview (not as yet posted) that promises to be somewhat more interesting given it will cover policy differences between Rae and Ignatieff.

From a Source You Can Trust!

Ugh, I hate The National Post sometimes. Well, most times actually. Surely there’s some horrendous irony in a paper that constantly shrieks from its editorial pages about the infallibility of the “free market” that’s been hemorrhaging millions of dollars in losses almost since its inception. Clearly it’s been a financial disaster — a bottomless sinkhole with no prospect of recovery. So why doesn’t it fold up operations? Die already and stop annoying everyone with your hackneyed right-wing drivel.

But that’s only tangential to my point. Today, their editorial board deigned to offer some free, unsolicited advice for the Liberal Party. After thoroughly trashing and deriding Ignatieff, it’s their considered opinion the Liberals “should give up on the idea of replacing the Conservatives at the end of January when Parliament reconvenes.” Instead, the NP feels the Liberals should put in place an interim leader “who has no ambitions to run the party” and is ostensibly neutral and then… just carry on with business as usual until the May leadership vote. Well that’s stellar advice, isn’t it? And coming from the NP… you have to know that it couldn’t possibly be any more impartial and objective than that!

Just for fun, let’s review some of the NP’s slagging of Iggy. First off, he’s a “a prickly academic, like Mr. Dion” who’s been overtaken with ambition. Worse, “he lived outside the country for nearly three decades” and “only returned to seek high office at the best of a cabal of party insiders.” Then comes the old, familiar charge that he was “an enthusiastic supporter of the war in Iraq.” Or at least he was “until it became convenient for him to oppose it.” In a similar fashion according to the NP, he was for the coalition until he was against it; and that was only when he realized it was unpopular with Ontario Liberals “because of the separatists’ support.”

Why they even managed to work Adscam into their piece and several mentions of the “power lust” of Liberals. Good work NP!

Adieu Dion

Everyone knew that Stéphane Dion would be stepping down, but that he’s doing it today would seem to indicate that Ignatieff will be installed by the caucus at Wednesday’s meeting.

How soon before Bob Rae backs down?

What do you think? Will he or should he?

Update: Dion’s statement is here.

And in other news, Gerard Kennedy now seems “inclined” to back Bob Rae (I thought he’d thrown his support behind Iggy). Anyway, just in case you needed a reminder of the significance of this move, the following video seems appropriate somehow…

The New “Mr. Dithers”?

I’m not suggesting that’s a fair characterization of Michael Ignatieff, but it’s one that Craig Oliver attempted to apply to him on today’s Question Period.

Oliver seemed a little frustrated that he couldn’t manage to get Ignatieff to go out on a limb with regards to unconditional support for the coalition or completely implacable opposition to Harper’s forthcoming budget when parliament resumes at the end of January.

Dion and Dusted


Sorry to say, but not only is the nascent LibDem “coalition” dead as a doornail (the ardent efforts of Bob Rae and feeble candlelight vigils notwithstanding), but so too are the fortunes of Mr. Dion as leader of the party. For the second time he’s let us down rather badly and has failed to deliver at the end of the day. He simply cannot be allowed to continue at the helm during the “time out” period that the Governor General has given to Stephen Harper’s government.

As I suggested in the comments yesterday, desperate times call for desperate measures. Everyone agrees that Dominic Leblanc has a lot going for him and could well be the voice of the next generation of Liberals, but it’s also generally acknowledged that he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, so he should save his money and park his ambitions for the time being. It’s also the end of the road for Bob Rae, I’m afraid — at least in terms of being leader. For all of his many considerable attributes and statesman-like demeanor, that dog simply isn’t going to hunt with most Canadians (for reasons that are so obvious I don’t even have to bother enumerating them). That leaves us with… Ignatieff.

Quite wisely as it turns out, the deputy leader remained unusually discrete during the latest fracas in parliament, demonstrating the requisite support when called upon, but deliberately distancing himself from the LibDem coalition. That demonstrates sound judgment and an admirable degree of restraint that are perhaps needed at this time. He may not be everyone’s favourite candidate for leadership… he may well be a little “arrogant” and even “creepy” to some (bit of an unfair slam, but it’s heard not infrequently). Well sorry, but those seem like rather minor quibbles after what we’ve been through for the past year or so.

I don’t really care how the Liberals arrive at the necessary conclusion here, but events need to take precedence over the niceties of process, the precious sensibilities of would-be delegates and quaint formalities that many of us regard as absurd relics of the past in any case. Get Ignatieff in as leader, get behind him and get on with the business of rebuilding the party and being an effective and credible opposition to Harper. Oh, and forget about going into an election for at least a year. Seriously. Don’t even think about it.