Nonetheless, the Conservative party has launched a massive negative ad campaign, spending $750,000 per week to try to trash Michael Ignatieff's character. They paint him as a power-hungry opportunist. They make it seem like Ignatieff is trying to rush into an election, when the opposite is just the case: he turned his back on the coalition and supported Harper. For heaven's sake, he has only had a few months to rebuild the Liberal party and we are not even ready to fight an election.
The ads twist reality in more ways than one. Not only do they paint an untrue picture of Ignatieff, but they totally distort the reality of politics. Every political leader is trying to win more seats; if they weren't they would be bad leaders. There is nothing evil about playing to win. (If there were, Stephen Harper would be Beelzebub himself.)
As a member of the Liberal party, I protest this continuing character assassination of whoever we choose as leader. The Conservative party under Stephen Harper has become a US neocon-style attack organization, seeking to dupe the public and distort the system rather than win on their own merits. Federal politics has been hijacked by a bunch of right-wing Albertan donors who are willing to turn Canadian politics into a game of hate. It was bad enough when they spent millions making fun of Stephane Dion's Gallic shrug; now it's just gone too far. Enough is enough.
The truth about our current situation is this: last fall Harper behaved so badly that he lost the confidence of Parliament, which formed a coalition to replace him as Prime Minister. Michael Ignatieff stepped in and supported Harper on the condition that Harper handle the recession in a reasonable manner. There are serious questions about whether Harper has met his end of the bargain. Ignatieff could overthrow Harper at any time, but instead of doing so, he is negotiating with Harper to try to improve the government's economic performance.
For the first few weeks the Conservative attack ads had no effect, but slowly they are taking root in the minds of Canadians. For example, a recent commenter in the Globe wrote, "Mr. Ignatieff is only in this for himself. ...He wants to be Prime Minister and will do whatever it takes to force an election." You hear that more and more. Rational argument is ultimately useless in the face of a good PR firm and a huge budget. The Liberal party has resisted the temptation to fight back with their own negative ads, which I applaud. A compelling reason for an early election is to end the Harper Hate campaign before it can become fully effective.