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Michael Ignatieff

Friday miscellany

Montreal Simon has a good take on why the ReformCons are taking a quick veer to the libertarian right… abandoning, at least momentarily, their courting of the centre soccer moms in order to win that elusive majority.

In short, to pander to the centre as well as the Christian right, the Harperites have had to put aside some if the principles espoused by their Libertarian supporters. And not just put aside, but downright demean them, most blatantly in a speech given by Harper in March of 200:

… Over the next twenty minutes or so, we would be treated to one of the most bewildering speeches I’ve ever heard Stephen Harper give.  After launching into a sweeping defence of conservatism he would direct his attention towards classical liberals and libertarians who he acknowledged, some of whom were in the very room he was speaking.

The speech also contained a definition of what conservatism is.  In his words it is made up of the “three Fs: freedom, family and faith”–a definition which might leave some libertarians feeling even more uncomfortable with it’s social conservative undertones.

Harper took the gloves us last night.  He made it clear who’s in his tent.  The message was clear: libertarians need to get on board or get out of the way.

Now, with the decision on the length of the form thingy, and on the questioning of affirmative action in the hiring of public servants, he is paying the piper in an effort to get the Libertarians back under the tent.

Of course, they chose to blow these horns in the summer with the expectation that Canadians wouldn’t hear them over the din of loons and motor boats.

Oops.

In other news…

I dunno if Iggy’s super cross Canada tour will truly have any impact on his popular support (he has yet to take my advice on what to do next), but Justin Trudeau is sure doing his darnedest to get in on every photo-op possible!

A BCer in Toronto has more!

Been a crazy last week before my Holidays… and I am left with one question:

  • Why are they called “pairs” of pants or “pairs” of underwear?

There are two legs or leg holes, but that is all of the “pairishness” I can find. Anyone?

What is $700 million? The size of the OCDSB budget.

What weighs over 5 pounds? The information package just sent to me by Board Services… and I’m thankful, but they coulda sent me a CD instead to save paper and postage.

Conrad Black is out on bail! And he might come back to Canada! Woo-hoo!

I am not being completely tongue-in-cheek here.  Despite the fact that I really have never felt warm and fuzzy for the guy, I think he was railroaded somewhat by the American “justice” system… and he, like anyone else, is entitled to due process. And this due process says that he can go free on bail… so no bitchin’ about it…

Obscurantism. (French: obscurantisme, from the Latin obscurans, “darkening”) is the practice of deliberately preventing the facts or the full details of some matter from becoming known. I just love this word.

Glenn Beck – why not his voice?

Sarah Palin– why??

Helena Guergis – The PM should say sorry and buy her some nice flowers… um, sure….

Tony Clement– here’s hoping that folks in my old stomping ground have the sense to turf this moron at the earliest opportunity. But I’m not holding my breath.

    (542)

    Iggy needs to step up

    I wonder why it is taking Iggy so long to pass comment on the latest Cons misstep….

    This whole cross country tour thing should really adopt some kind of “purpose”, don’t you think? I mean, I think it is a good decision to spend the summer this way- he hasn’t a choice, really. But should he be using the same tact that has been so successful for the ReformCons… That is, have an announcement, a pronouncement or a huff of righteous indignation each and every day.

    Instead, he says this:

    “If you pull up in a Tim Hortons in Napanee, there better be somebody there. It’s simple. You can’t win without troops,” Ignatieff said in an interview with the Star as he was ending his first week on the road. “So all of this is what’s changing. Not has to change — it is changing. And it’s my job to catalyze it, inspire it, you know, push it.”

    Huh? Read the news, Iggy, say something about it and carry on. You need to make a jolt on the electoral landscape and speaking in tongues ain’t gonna cut it! My disdain for the Cons runs deep BUT the “sound bite a day” strategy works for them!

    And please, the Tim Horton’s crowd isn’t your base in the first place! Do as I suggested a while back and shore up the support you can count on and concede what is lost…. else you might run into a 1993 PC scenario… just sayin’.

    One other question: where’s Jack Layton these days? Or Elizabeth May? Have they taken the summer off?

    Oh, and did everyone see this yesterday? Good data, eh?

    Now guess who doesn't like to see numbers like these?

    (825)

    Iggy can’t catch a break

    As the Grit leader heads off on his summer tour, one main question comes to the mind of this middle aged bald fellow:

    Will this be a tour of triumph, like the U2 tours of the 1990’s… complete with spectacular polytechnics, revolving stages and great solos?

    Or will be more like a farewell tour? Like one of those aging bands that played at Bluesfest recently, is this one final grasp and grasp at the brass ring?

    Well, unfortunately for MI, his Great Canadian Adventure started out looking more like the Moody Blues than Bono and The Edge.

    Aren’t buses destined for a long summertime journey not checked for mechanical soundness beforehand?

    At least they have a red tow truck..

    The Cons, of course, were all over this:

    “This can’t be a great start to the tour… Hopefully the local mechanic services imports,” Conservative talking points said.

    So, what can he do to rescue his own and his party’s fortunes? Is there anything. Really?

    My thoughts are that this question must be broken down into two separate questions.

    First, can he save his own personal fortunes as the leader of Canada’s Natural Governing Party?

    I doubt it. He has been branded too deeply by the Harperites as an arrogant, distant intellectual… sorta the same as Harpy except for the “intellectual” part. But the Timmies crowd has bought into this hook, line and sinker and I really don’t know what Iggy can do to reverse this. Mitigate it, maybe… but not reverse it completely. The Con machine came together on this one.

    The second question is : But he can shore up his party’s fortunes by cementing the core supporters into place for the next election?

    Maybe. If he listens to advice like the following.

    Mr Ignatieff:

    Don’t go to rural areas where Con support and coffee shops abound! Forget about the Prairies! Stick to places where there has historically and recently been strong support for your party! Stick to the cities and ‘burbs, not farms and small towns. The countryside has been lost – for now-  so leave it up to the next leader to mend those fences and broaden the base.

    Go to Toronto. To Ottawa. Vancouver. Montreal. And other urban centres where, if your core support comes out to vote for you, Canada’s hopes to avoid a Con majority may be realised.

    Cuz we all know what THAT would mean!

    • Mandatory religion “education” in schools.
    • Mandatory jail time for possession of any amount of pot.
    • Obliteration of environmental regs.
    • State-imposed censorship through selective information dissemination.
    • Easing of gun laws.
    • Laws restricting abortion.
    • Reintroduction of the death penalty.
    • More gutting of government services…

    Wait a minute, am I talking about what would happen if Harper got a majority or the tea-partiers nut bars in the States?

    Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

    Yeah, I know that is a lot to speculate about – but give Harper a term or two with a Majority and we’ll see if I’m just being alarmist!

    Sincerely, from a non-Grit and non-partisan,

    Trashy

    🙂

    (1311)

    As if seeing Harper’s numbers go up in the polls weren’t enough…

    and watching Iggy quickly turn himself into a non-issue, THIS is what I saw as next week’s weather forecast for Ottawa:
    Chance of flurries or rain showers

    • 8°C High
    • -1°C Low
    Yeah, those are snowflakes.
    Time to accelerate the search for sun and sand. And maybe going somewhere over festivus ain’t just a bad idea after all.
    And while the Grits have allowed the ReformCons to dictate the agenda, I’m ever hopeful that the old saying “give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves eventually” proves true… it’s just a matter of time.

    (782)

    Hitchin’ the Grit wagon to the right tractor

    In today’s G&M, Lawrence Martin is exploring a topic that is along the same lines as one that I discussed in a posting a little while ago. Ignatieff and the Grits have been presented with a perfect opportunity to latch on to an issue that can define them from the ReformCons –  the American portrayal of our health care system.

    It would be a natural fit for Iggy to defend Obama’s proposed program and universal health care in general. Both men are liberal,  well-spoken members of the educated class.  One would think that Obama’s team would welcome such an ally.

    As Mr. Martin says:

    These are rocky times on the bilateral front. Trade volumes are declining, border fences have gone up. Financial tumult has walloped America and its paramountcy is challenged, at least to some degree, by Asia’s rise. This country can’t ride its coattails as it used to.

    These are big challenges for big thinkers. We expected Mr. Ignatieff to respond by unhesitatingly seeking a close alliance with a liberal President whose popularity in Canada is enormous. Mr. Obama is a busy man but surely, given his contacts, Mr. Ignatieff could have received entry to the Oval Office by now, as opposition leaders before him have done.

    It is not too late to hitch his wagon to this train; but Iggy and the Libs should not wait very long into the fall sitting.

    (668)

    The American attacks on Canadian health care – what an opportunity for Iggy – but will he run with it?

    Canada’s health care system has been under a barrage of attacks both in the blogosphere and in the MSM lately – not to mention the mass idiocy that is taking place at those so-called “Town Hall Meetings”. What a crock. Here’s an excerpt:

    In one particularly heated exchange, Craig Anthony Miller, 59, stood inches from Mr Specter’s face screaming at him and waving a copy of the US Constitution.

    “You are trampling our Constitution,” Mr Miller yelled while police officers hovered nervously around him. “One day, God is going to stand before you, and He is going to judge you and the rest of your damn cronies [in the Congress], and then you will get your just deserts,” he ranted to loud applause before storming out of the room.

    Seriously. How do these morons summon up the brain capacity to breathe and talk at the same time?

    These attacks have been well-coordinated and organized by the usual right-wing nut groups whose alleged motivation is the preservation of good health care and free enterprise but whose real impetus is the protection of their own collective ass.

    I haven’t said much about this whole health care thing – and I have been saving a sort of “omnibus” entry about our system for a later date. Yet, what I do see at the moment is a perfect chance for Iggy and Grits to define themselves as the defenders of the faith – if you will.

    What a great issue to latch on to and gain exposure from!

    What a high profile and attack-ad proof way to define the leader’s persona and purpose than to vigorously defend an institution that most Canadians identify as being a hallmark of our society!

    Yes, most of us realize that it has its blemishes and warts and I don’t differ from this view. It is indeed a system that is in need of a new focus and new thinking. But that being said, it is a fair and modern system of which we should be conditionally proud. And from coast to coast, I would guess that this would be the consensus opinion.

    But will Ignatieff step up to the plate? The Harperites are, of course, silent on this. They know that by defending a system that their core supporters (the religious right and the ultra right wingnuts) view with suspicion, they are opening themselves up to internal dissent. And we all know that the ReformCons go tut-tut at any type of dissent.

    How about it Grits? Here is a tailor-made, made-in-Canada, attack-ad-proof issue for you to grab and run with? Are you going to take it?

    (3322)

    Harper is becoming predictable – of course he HAS to make everything political!

    Never one to miss a chance to score some political points, Stevie lays the groundwork for blaming the Grits et al if the refugee claimant system isn’t “fixed”.

    Mr. Harper insisted the visa obligation for Mexicans will remain in place until Canada’s refugee system is fixed, calling on opposition parties to join his party in reforming Canada’s refugee system to discourage bogus claimants.

    “The visas will stay as long as the problem exists,” he said.

    “Parliament should be seized with this issue [and] I hope our Parliament will take advantage of the attention that’s been brought on this issue to deal with this problem,” Mr. Harper said.

    Next to come will be:

    • blaming the previous regime (the Liberals) for not doing something about this during their (brrr…) reign of terror
    • the introduction of legislation that will be just contentious enough to fall outside the “we’ll sign on the dotted line” zone of approval for one of the Opposition parties.
    • attack ads labelling Iggy as being soft on bogus refugees and hence soft on terror… or something like that. The words “soft on” will most definitely be used.

    Just watch. He is becoming so bloody predictable.

    (2733)

    Happy Harperites are Hummin’

    Seems like the combination of anti-Iggy ads and the Grits thumping on the election war drum has given the ReformCons a bit of an edge in the polls. While this does fall a bit within the “who cares” territory – after all, no election till at least the fall – it does point out that the Liberals do have some work ahead of them before the next drop of the writ.

    Specifically, they need to better define the Iggy brand. It is not enough for the leader of the party to make election threats and fire cannonballs across the bow of the blue ship, Canadians need to better understand who he is all “about”.

    Hitting the summer BBQ circuit will help rebuild the grassroots support that will be absolutely crucial to future electoral success, but it will do little to better define the brand.

    bbq1
    My humble suggestion is that Grit staffers spend their summer canvassing all ridings – but especially those that are “winnable” – to clearly understand what is on the minds of Canadians and the role they see for the Liberal Party. From this, put together a brand spankin’ new set of policy statements that are clearly different from the CPC as well as the Dippers and the Bloqistes.

    In fact, if they are smart, they would have started this months ago and are right now putting together said statements.

    The party needs to distinguish itself from the trash that surrounds it. Both the party as the brand and the leader as the brand must stand out as the only viable alternative.

    All that being said, I believe that the Harperites’ rise in the polls is temporary and largely reflects the desire of the nation to avoid an election at this time.

    (2428)

    Retail and Political Haggling – why not?

    On the political stage

    Just noticed that Iggy has laid down some conditions that the Harperites will have to meet in order to avoid a no-confidence motion and a summer election.

    According to Ignatieff, the government must meet the following four conditions:

    • Provide more details about improving the employment insurance system before the House of Commons votes on budget estimates at the end of the week. The government has said it will introduce unspecified new EI proposals in the fall.
    • Give more information about the rate of stimulus spending than included in last Thursday’s progress report.
    • Show more details on the government’s plan to contain the ballooning deficit, instead of offering what Ignatieff called “rosy projections.”
    • Provide clearer answers on the government’s action plan to deal with Canada’s medical isotopes shortage.

    Ignatieff said the government’s answers and performance so far on these issues “just aren’t good enough.”

    This is a type of “haggling”. The Grits are playing from a strong position in that the economy has nose-dived, the have a new and semi-intelligent leader, the polls are pretty good and, of course, Steve is still a robot. And no one likes robots.

    robot

    What Iggy is saying is the following:

    I will support you and we can all have a nice, election-free summer if you at least give the appearance of cutting me a deal by meeting me halfway and following through on my demands. Or at least some of them.

    Due to it’s unpredictability, it’s a dangerous game when you engage in political haggling. The seller (in this case Harper) can back away and say “Forget it – I’m calling your bluff.” In which case, the one in the role of the buyer (Iggy) must risk losing the “good” that he is bargaining for (the avoidance of an election) or backing down himself and risk losing credibility.

    As much as this Trashman would love to see Harper and his merry gang of ReformCons heaved out onto a pile of half-cured compost, he is very nervous about this game that the Grits are playing. It may just backfire and we’ll end up at the polls this summer. Canadians may take out their frustration on the new kid on the block instead of the robot. harper

    Yikes. Careful Michael, careful…

    At the store

    The teen-monster is doing some training to ready herself for her 3 week stint as a kid’s camp counsellor and last week was my turn to deliver her to said training centre. For whatever reason – and I didn’t want the details… scaaaaarrrrrrrrrrryyyy – the kid was obviously having a bad day / week and it culminated that day in a ruined shoe. Somehow (again, no details please) she caught a lace in a fence and this tore the footwear asunder.

    I actually heard about this earlier in the day when she texted me “Daddy – I need new shoes!”

    Feeling particularly magnanimous that day, I suggested that on our way home from the training (which was totally “lame”)we stop at the Billings Bridge plaza to see if we couldn’t outfit her in a new pair… was gonna be a rush since closing time was about 15 minutes away. Hurriedly, she tried on a few sizes before settling on a pair and size that she really liked.

    “How much?” I asked the sales-dude.

    “$89.99”.

    “Yikes!”, said I, “how about a discount?”

    “Sure, I’ll give you 15% off.”

    Huh. It was that easy? I just had to ask? I may be middle-aged, but in no way resemble a senior.

    And any commenters claiming the contrary will be immediately flamed and ridiculed.

    Our western culture is anti-haggle, with some exceptions. Haggling over the price of a car or a house or negotiating a price at a garage sale is perfectly OK, but we aren’t like those in many Asian or Middle-Eastern nations where the “back and forth” is the norm.

    I’m thinking that I’ll do this more often!

    revolution

    (1015)

    In the news recently

    Possible summer election

    As much as I’d like to say that I’d like to see an election this summer I have to counsel caution… leadership numbers still too soft, unpredictable and therefore the Grits are vulnerable to the slightest slip-up. Give Iggy the summer. The Harperites will no doubt stumble some more and give the Grits some firm wedge issues on the leadership front.

    The risk is that we really are seeing the beginnings of an economic recovery and this will bode well for the Harperites. I doubt that this is the case and that we are at least a year away from seeing real recovery. And even then the manufacturing sector in Ontario will still be undergoing a long period of restructuring.

    Regardless, give the ReformCons the summer to (pick one or all of the following:

    • Say something stupid about race, religion, immigration or language
    • Leave Top Secret docs on an OC Transpo bus
    • Leave Top secret docs in the washroom of the Spark Street CBC studios
    • Reveal information that links a sitting ReformCon MP to a white supremacist group or a  loony religious sect
    • Miss a photo op with other world leaders
    • Wear a leather vest or something equally unflattering – like a sweater vest for instance

    Sprawl

    Ottawa will expand the boundaries of the City by a few hundred hectares.  Despite the Official Plan provisions that intensification projects be preferred over more suburbanization, the City staff and politicians will undoubtedly give in to pressure from developers and allow a further stretching of the designated urban area.

    I am a Planner by training. Have a Masters degree in the field as a matter of fact. And, in planning school we were taught that sprawl was bad. Infrastructure costs are higher, a sense of community is more difficult to foster, there are higher GHG emissions due to higher automobile traffic, etc., etc.

    Haven’t we sprawled enough? Time to give up the quaint notion of the Greenbelt and plan our City more sustainably.
    The kids who are running the government

    Is it my imagination or does it seem like most of the staffers who work with the ReformCons are under 30? Not to put down those who have yet to experience the delights of middle-age, but the inexperience is beginning to show. Witness the problems that various Ministers have experienced lately that have been the direct result of ill-prepared staffers.

    Still. The buck stops at the Minister’s office, doesn’t it? Folks like Lisa Raitt have to accept responsibility and not use the poor kids as scapegoats.

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