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.

Ignatieff: Well Placed?

It’s hard to see Iggy as much of a “change agent” for the LPC.

The vitriolic, hateful and profoundly ignorant comments attached to various mainstream media stories regarding his announcement are just a small taste of the vile, toxic nastiness to come…

Update: Warren Kinsella makes the case for Ignatieff…

Because I believe the country needs a leader like him right now – one who has a broader view, and who can lead us through the tremendously difficult economic times we all face. One who inspires people, and doesn’t simply offer cutesy quips. One with intellectual depth (like a Trudeau), and one with an unashamed love of this amazing country (like a Chrétien). One whose values – as I have now learned – more closely correspond to the values of Canadians: tolerance; diversity; respect; integrity. One who – unlike the ones across the aisle – isn’t angry at the things which make Canada great, and who seems to actually like the place. One who listens, as he did with me.

Do political considerations enter into it? For sure. Of course! The Liberal Party needs a winner, and Ignatieff – in everything he has done in his life – is certainly that. The Liberal Party needs someone who can fundraise, and recruit, and who understands the crucial necessity of balancing the books. The Liberal Party needs someone who can communicate to Canadians that compassion and strength are not inconsistent concepts. The Liberal Party is hurting, badly, and it needs someone to bring every single Grit together, as Ignatieff has done – improbably, remarkably – with formerly fierce combatants in the Chrétien-Martin wars (eg., me, and people like me – who I never thought would agree on anything). We need someone who can bring the party back to the centre – where the votes are.

I read through his piece and the bottom line on the Ignatieff candidacy still seems to read: problematic.

Update: Quite an impressive website.

And Then There Were… Three?

With the announcements the other day that Martha Hall Findley and Denis Coderre won’t be entering the leadership fray, and the statement from Gerard Kennedy expected today confirming that he also won’t be running, it seems to be coming down to a three way race between Rae, Ignatieff and LeBlanc.

Speaking of the latter, LeBlanc has an editorial out today in Macleans outlining in a very preliminary way his “vision” for rebuilding the Liberal Party, something that he feels will require a “giant stride” in order to reconnect with voters:

Other political movements have faced similar moments of challenge. In the early 1990s, Britain’s New Labour remade itself, as did Bill Clinton’s Democrats. Today, of course, the example of Barack Obama inspires us all. In each case, success was built on two foundations. First, they reconnected their parties with the political centre. Second, they turned to a new and younger generation to lead the way. And they won.

Just as it fell to those in other countries in their time, so it now falls to a new generation of Liberals to do the same here. To unequivocally commit ourselves to a new path and a new attitude. To rebuild our party and regain government from Stephen Harper by the time of the next election.

So does the Liberal Party need “generational change”… is that really the problem?