Monday, August 3, 2009

Michael Ignatieff's Policies are Under His Hat Not His Sweater

During the 2008 election campaign, not wishing to get thrown off his carefully manipulated course; Stephen Harper did not unveil his Party's platform until the final week before going to the polls. This gave us Jack Layton's great line; 'Where's your platform, under your sweater?'

The sweater reference was of course to Harper's attempt at looking like an average Joe, which instead just made him look uncomfortable.

Well, Michael Ignatieff does wear sweaters, though not to impress anyone; and he has also been apprehensive about unveiling his platform, but for very different reasons I suspect.

We know that the Conservative have been launching poisonous ads for months and have even created a website to personally attack Mr. Ignatieff; so if he is hesitant about giving them more fodder, I can understand. We know they're just waiting to pounce, and have their spin machine oiled up and ready to go. (Our own local 'also ran', Brian Abrams; even has elected Conservative MPs, Mike Wallace and Blake Richards, distributing taxpayer funded propaganda.)

We also know that they will cherry pick the document, twisting intentions and fabricating points to fit their profile of the man.

But will this hurt the Liberal leader, if he doesn't answer the media with regards to the direction he will be heading? Time will tell. For now, the fact that Ignatieff has been able to increase the funding for his party substantially; reveals that people have confidence in his message, even if it is being doled in small measures.

His intelligence, education and life experiences have shown us that he is a man of substance, and the flurry of activity around the Conservative war room, indicates that they know it too. The smell of desperation is permeating from the walls. And you thought it was pollution.

Ignatieff paying a price for his silence
Aug 03, 2009
Toronto Star
Carol Goar

According to meteorologist Dave Phillips, Ottawa took the prize for the soggiest July in the country. The nation's capital was chilly, damp and uninviting.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says he took advantage of the bad weather to "sit at home and think thoughts." He us (sic) promising Canadians an ambitious policy agenda in the fall.

That would be a nice change. (waiting for an election to lay his cards on the table?)

Since Ignatieff took command in December, it has been hard to figure out what the Liberals stand for, how they would govern the country or whether they have workable alternatives.

Ignatieff may believe – or his strategists may have convinced him – that it is tactically smart to withhold his platform until an election is imminent.
(Harper held his platform until the last week of the 2008 election campaign)

But the former Harvard professor is paying a price. His party is stalled in the polls. Voters have doubts about his ability to manage the economy. He is acquiring a reputation as a leader who is more comfortable deliberating than providing a sense of direction.

Liberal MPs are also paying a price. Most have avoided the limelight since Parliament closed, not knowing what they're supposed to say. This makes it look as if they have few ideas or concerns.

It would be interesting to hear what Ignatieff has come up with after spending half the summer wrestling with the nation's challenges.

What, for example, are his guiding principles?

The Liberal leader has issued a steady stream of press releases, accusing the government of neglecting the unemployed, failing to protect Canadian-developed technology, pulling the plug on Canadian isotope production, ignoring the concerns of rural Canadians and dragging its feet on global warming.

But this running commentary is headline-driven. It indicates nothing about Ignatieff's priorities or values. (read his books and you'll know his values)

Is there any Conservative policy he finds so wrong he would be compelled to oppose it, whatever the risk?

The Liberal leader has threatened to vote non-confidence in the government's recession-fighting strategy and its refusal to extend jobless benefits to the millions of Canadians who don't qualify for coverage. But both times he has backed off.

He has said so little about most other issues – national security, fiscal policy, resource development, city building, health care, poverty, aboriginal affairs, the environment or Canada-U.S. relations – that it is hard to tell where he would draw the line.

Does he have a plan to tackle climate change?

Former Liberal leader St├ęphane Dion, for all his shortcomings, was at least clear on this question. He staked his career on the conviction that a carbon tax was necessary to curb energy consumption.

Ignatieff has jettisoned his predecessor's unpopular policy (which he himself advocated two years ago) but has not offered Canadians a replacement.

Has he determined which Liberal traditions he will uphold and which belong to a bygone era?

The confusion over last month's sale of Nortel Networks' wireless business to Ericsson, a Swedish telecom giant, suggests not.

Industry critic Marc Garneau said he saw no reason for Ottawa to intervene. "If we want to play in the big leagues, we have to play by international rules."

A day later, Ignatieff sent out a different message, demanding that the government review the transaction, given the "unique and strategic nature" of the Canadian technology pioneer's assets. He sounded like an economic nationalist – but one with sluggish reflexes.

Has Ignatieff thought about how to restructure Ontario's battered manufacturing sector, restore civility to Parliament, make democracy matter to disengaged voters or marshal the energy and optimism of young Canadians?

He hasn't said so. He apparently feels no urgency.

With luck, it will be sunny in Ottawa this month. Ignatieff needs to get out of his study. The Liberals need to show some life.

I don't entirely disagree with Ms Goar. We've got to get the message out, even if it means that the Conservatives will almost instantly twist the facts. Canadians are getting tired of their attack ads anyway, so we must now offer an alternative. Talk to me Michael.

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