Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Count Gets Dissed

There have been several scathing criticisms of Michael Ignatieff lately. I'll take on three:

* Ignatieff has 'put absolutely nothing on the table,' say Liberal insiders by Abbas Rana in the Hill Times, Sept 21.
* For Liberals, new leader, same losing scenario by Chantal Hebert in The Star, Sept 18.
* Tired rhetoric, and not much more by Jeffrey Simpson in the Globe & Mail, Sept 23.

The basic complaint is that Ignatieff has not put out enough policy detail yet. They argue that, had there been an election, he would have been unprepared. However:

* There wasn't an election. Call him lucky or crazy like a fox, Ignatieff has managed to stop propping up the government without an unpopular election and he has manoeuvered the NDP on to the hot seat. This may have been a Mulroneyesque rolling of the dice: whatever, we're in a much better position than we were a month ago, in lots of ways - just one of which is to bleed support from the NDP.
* He has been leader less than a year. In that time he has achieved the vital goal of raising a lot of money. Now he's starting an ad campaign, starting to get more specific about policy - give him some room, folks! I don't see any problem with his timing.
* The biggest mistake Dion made was to unveil his election platform too early. When he announced the Green Shift everyone was anxious about global warming. By the time the election was called we had had the biggest financial crisis in our lifetimes and were facing the biggest depression in history. Everyone was more concerned about the economy, yet Liberals were stuck talking about something else. Timing is vital. Ignatieff needs to be prepared to talk policy in an election, but he doesn't have to spell it all out in advance.

Jeffrey Simpson also complains that Ignatieff hasn't distinguished himself sufficiently from Harper. I find this line of reasoning to be totally specious. Prime Minister Ignatieff would have a totally different effect on Canada than Prime Minister Harper; to say they are indistinguishable is absurd. Don't forget that Harper was going to cut the budget this year and enact no fiscal stimulus until forced to by the coalition. If you think there's no difference between the two leaders, talk to the thousands of young people languishing in jails under Harper's US-style legal "reforms". Talk to the women who can no longer get any legal assistance in fighting abuse and wage discrimination. Talk to the arts groups that are no longer funded. Look at how our allies view us after the long series of screw-ups by the incompetent people Harper puts in his cabinet so he can run the show himself. And that doesn't even mention the areas that Harper is neglecting: Ignatieff is probably the best person in the world to address our long-standing disunity issues.

(btw, Harper has also been coming in for some pretty snarky dissing of late, at least in the Globe. See Tories spend five times more on budget ads than flu plan and Harper makes donut run (Harper skips Obama's speech at UN to go to Tim Hortons).)

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20 comments:

Lizt. said...

After reading Quebec papers, the Liberal party there, is in some deep trouble,... about Outremont, as well as Codere wanting 4 MPs to step down, and one is Dion...this does not sound very good for the party there. I think Ignatieff had better explain.

Yappa said...

I know what you mean... I'm planning to write a post about the current problems in Quebec. I don't know what the party is going to do, but this is definitely a big test for Ignatieff. He was made leader (in part) because he was totally outside the old Chretien-Martin feud, and now that feud seems to be rearing its head again.

Anonymous said...

Was Ignatieff not drafted by the Martinites of Rosedale?

This infighting is not surprising, but sadly is very damaging to the public perception.

Lycan Stark said...

The thing is, after allowing the 6 Liberal MPs in Newfoundland to have a pass in defying him, saying it was a one time deal, Ignatieff really has no choice now but to clamp down. if he doesn't how weak will that make him look? But if he does, how will it be received in Quebec?

Rock and a hard place.

Koby said...

Simpson nailed it. The Liberal supporters need to stop pretending that the current version of the Liberals is anything other than Conservative lite. The Liberals punted away the Afghan issue. They punted away the crime issue. On transfers and tax policy they one in the same.

Yappa said...

Hi Koby,

But do you have any rebuttal of my argument that there is a great difference between them?

CanadianSense said...

Yappa rebuttal:

The Liberal leader decided to adopt the NDP position of voting against EVERY Bill before reading it.

Finances 2008 vs 2009?
In the 6 months you have raised $ 5.9 million, $100k more than all of 2008!
Details?

Membership 30,890 vs 100,000?

Convention, 3 Big Dinners, Champagne Circuit, leadership instant Liberals.

You had 15k Q1, 19k Q2 make donations. The majority of those funds are from Big Fish.

3rd and 4th Qtr will be a very big shock. Check elections Canada.

Polling Support-National

2008 October 26.3%
2009 September 29%

Leadership Score Index Nanos:

Michael is 54 Sept 2009 (7 months)
Dion was 54 in Feb 08.

Dion was a scapegoat in 2008. There were many problems. Look at Anatomy of Liberal Defeat-MCGill Study.

http://ces-eec.mcgill.ca/documents/Anatomy%20of%20a%20Liberal%20Defeat.pdf

Visible minority, Catholic Vote, head start have been moving their votes.

Female vote? No longer liberal. Check Nanos again.

Court Challenges Program cut is inside baseball stuff.

Pay Equity case resolved for $ 3 Billion under CPC, Liberals dragged in court for 15 years.

Jan 2009 Liberals agreed to those Pay Equity changes.

Harper team understand optics and PR.

Tim Horton=votes
UN sent Ministers to deliver position.
Without US/China in we don't punish our own economy.

After Kyoto track record I don't get it, why are you talking about the Liberal environmental record?

Rick Mercer CBC commercials?

Yappa said...

Hi CanadianSense -

YOu can your comment a rebuttal but you don't really touch on the issue of differences between Harper and Ignatieff.

As to your other points... I'm not sure what to say. Raising more money in six months than in one year is more than twice as much; I'm not sure why you think that's a poor record. A Nanos question about who is most competent, broken down by gender,does not indicate a sea change in female voting. I didn't talk about the Liberal environmental record, but since you mention it - Dion tried his hardest to bring the environment front and center, and Canadians weren't interested.

AS to your reference of that McGill study - I think that's the third time that someone has linked to it in my Comments section. Do you think it proves that Liberals will never win again? I'm quite certain Liberal support will recover. I don't deny that Harper is an effective campaigner: the millions he spends on attack ads has a huge impact.

CanadianSense said...

Yappa:

Tiny Bit of Advice NEVER diss Tim Hortons PM announcement for not attending a UN meeting to hear windbags talk about climate change. Another tactical mistake.

Harper is a manager getting "things" done. LSI score 99.

You may not like him but outside the LPC,NDP,Bloc blogger and base support how many want the opposition to topple the government this year?

70% are against another election 31 in favour. Divide that among 4 parties.

The Media Ads will continue to drive down the vote for Iggy. Suppression strategy.

Iggy likes to dream about a bigger Canada. A better Canada that is being held back by not having him in power. ( I did not make this up)

Finances
The Liberals have raised more in six months than all of 2008. Great!

In 2008 estimates were around $ 1-4 million in debt for LPC.

The Leadership debts are $1.8 million due in Dec 2009.

A court case CPC vs Elections Canada on GST overpayment. When the repayment is ordered the CPC will pay $ 591k. How much will the Liberal owe? ($ 1-4 million).

http://www.taxpayer.com/taxpayer/news-archive?news_id=3573

Official Campaigns require $ 10-20 million and nominations completed. In 2008 Liberal spent $ 14.5 million.

Empty Threat?

Liberals knew NDP were less prepared to go to polls in 2009. Now they attack their potential coalition partner?

NDP are down 2-4% from October 2008.

http://punditsguide.ca/finances_e.php

In September 2008 employment was 5.9% (Iggy said similar talking points why Harper is bad) January 2009 he refused to provide any ideas for budget.

September 2009, he determined Harper is no longer competent?

EAP will take more than 12 months. He blocked EAP, immediate funds through the Senate until EI funds were found to be retroactive and Harper would go to the Polls in March 2009.
In June he did it again, threaten to pull the plug unless 4 conditions. Not realistic.

He was given a Panel to work with Harper. The 360 plan was a no go and repeated before during and after.
In September 2009 he can introduce his plan as a confidence measure and hope to get support from NDP/Bloc.

Iggy is threatening knowing the NDP are less prepared to pull the plug. How many MP's are calling for an election?

Why the threats every few months? Why not let EAP be delivered and judged to be ineffective?

Why not require a few admendments instead of reports?

What is the rush? Loss of senate control in 2010?

Improving economy?

Calling Harper a racist, right wing republican, bible thumper by some Lib bloggers is hyperbole.

W.K. mocked Stockwell Day for his religious beliefs.

W.K. and some lib bloggers ran with the wafer story trying to create a wedge of Roman Catholics.

Harper mention God and the Lib blogs freaks out again.

How many times are CPC being mocked for holding religious values?
The Report talks about groups leaving the party. Outreach, strong Israel, anti-Tiger positions are paying dividends.

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Politics/2009/07/10/10094946-cp.html

International aid groups offered praise to Canada for actually meeting previously set G8 targets on increasing aid to Africa.

“Canada’s doubled its aid, but it needs to set a new, more ambitious target into the future,” said Robert Fox, executive director of Oxfam Canada.

“For the other countries, quite frankly, their performance varies from poor to — in the case of France and Italy — borders on the criminal.”

Bodybags along with other supplies are shipped and opposition try to create another crisis.

Have the CPC spent millions working on issues like clean water, housing for aboriginals?

A few Canadians are having problems and the opposition suggest being brown is unsafe.

The Public polls reflect their anger with unecessary election threats, unfair attacks.

Policy differences great, attacking Harper for not attacking Right Wing Radio commentators in defence our our Healthcare?

Koby said...

On what points do they differ. You claim site US legal reforms. However, the Liberals supported bill 15. On crime, the Liberals and Conservatives are one and the same.

On the big issues, there is very little to separate the two. Liberals moved towards the Conservatives on crime, transfers and Afghanistan and the Conservatives moved towards the Liberals on stimulus. Beyond Liberal support for the idiotic Kelowna accord and daft idea of pay "equity" for public sector workers, there is not much to separate the two.

Now if for no other reason the Conservatives have very little front line talent, moving forward I have more faith in the Liberals than I do in the Conservatives. Still I am hardly excited about the Liberals and dare say the vast majority of Canadians feel the same way.

The things I would like to see the Liberals do and I fully realize that some of them are just not politically possible right and now and may never be is the following.

Take us out of Afghanistan or the very least out of Kandahar. Saying that Canada's combat role is ending is not enough. If we are in Kandahar we are in a combat role.

Gut military spending.

Legalize marijuana, prostitution and euthanasia.

Decriminalize the possession of all other drugs.

Institute heroin maintenance programs in major cities.

Introduce a national minimum wage.

Give Canadians 4 weeks vacation a year. This is the European minimum.

Abolish native rights.

Abolish the senate

Increase the number of ridings. The hinterlands have way too much electoral clout.

Include dental care as part of health care

National day care program .

Reform the immigration system; eliminate family unification and unskilled temporary workers and aim to greatly reduce the number of refuggees. Look to at the very least tripling the number of economic immigrants to Canada each year. Put a more greater emphasis and youth, and language skills.

CanadianSense said...

Koby what party shares your platform?

Looks like you are without a party to vote for today.

Goodluck with finding one soon.

Toronto Home Staging said...

Mr. Simpson is correct in his analysis, however, I believe after Ignatieff has gone on to his next grand adventure in some other part of the world, Bob Rae will take the LPC back to where it was headed in the first place. Then the differences between the parties will be very apparent.

Take care, Ella

Yappa said...

Hi Ella,

Don't forget that Bob Rae has a very influential role already. There's a lot of speculation going on about what sort of PM Ignatieff would be, but I don't think much of it is based in any truth (including Jeffrey Simpson's speculations).

Bert said...

Yappa ?. Don't diss Prime Minister Harper on skipping out of listening to a democrat blowhard yapping (sorry about the similarity) about something that human beings have no control over and going to a Tim Hortons function instead. I bet the majority of Canadians would do the same.

Bert said...

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/reuters/090924/canada/canada_us_politics_poll

Looks like the liberal poll numbers still suck.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert -

Re polls: Yup, Libs are down. However, the only poll that matters is the one that happens on election day, so we shall see what happens. I am optimistic, but I can't claim that I have any poll numbers to defend that stand - except to say that polls between elections don't mean much.

This reminds me of an old post I wrote on polls: If you had to choose the next Happy Meal, which meal would you choose?. It doesn't support my view or the Liberal outlook in any way; I'm just interested in polls.

Re Harper's donut run: I didn't exactly diss the PM over his preference for donuts over listening to Obama's speech at the UN climate conference. I just said that the Globe & Mail had dissed him for it.

However, now that you and another commenter have defended his action so firmly, I have to say: C'mon!!! What kind of half-assed, insulting move is it for him to have a photo op at a donut museum while Barack Obama is giving an important speech at the climate change conference he's attending!?! What kind of signal does it send to our allies when we show such utter contempt for their efforts to reach agreement on climate change? Do Conservatives revel in being rude and looking like red-necks? Are we trying to change the international opinion of Canadians from "polite, safe and tidy" to "polluting, rude and isolationist"?

I don't believe that you truly think that Canada should adopt a public stance that Obama is just a "Democratic blowhard" who we won't bother listening to. Whatever you think of him, he's the leader of the most powerful country in the world, a country that also happens to be our largest trading partner.

Also, I can't believe that you think it's wise for Canada not to coordinate with our allies on climate change. Even if it is outside of our control (and I disagree on that), the US is taking action and that action will affect us. We have to coordinate or we lose big time.

It's obvious what Harper was doing: pandering to his base. He went to the UN climate change conference, but by leaving early to have a photo op at a donut musuem he showed his base his utter contempt for such negotiations. Unfortunately, his base wasn't the only group that noticed. Every day the Harper government diminishes the stature of Canada a little more.

CanadianSense said...

Yappa,

The Democrats, Republicans talk a great game.

Heck Gore has made millions talkin about global warming.

Reminds me of the Liberal Government with those CBC commercials.

OBAMA talks alot about dealing with global warming.

Same pattern in the US. The Senate or Congress will not pass a serious Bill.

Can you link the Bill?

Bert said...

However, now that you and another commenter have defended his action so firmly, I have to say: C'mon!!! What kind of half-assed, insulting move is it for him to have a photo op at a donut museum while Barack Obama is giving an important speech at the climate change conference he's attending!?!

AWG (Anthropogenic Global Warming), or human caused Global Warming, does not exist. PMSH was right to leave.

Yappa said...

Hi Bert -

I'm not sure you read my whole reply. (It was rather long.) In reponse to your statement "human caused Global Warming, does not exist. PMSH was right to leave.", I will repeat what I wrote to you before:

I don't believe that you truly think that Canada should adopt a public stance that Obama is just a "Democratic blowhard" who we won't bother listening to. Whatever you think of him, he's the leader of the most powerful country in the world, a country that also happens to be our largest trading partner.

Also, I can't believe that you think it's wise for Canada not to coordinate with our allies on climate change. Even if it is outside of our control (and I disagree on that), the US is taking action and that action will affect us. We have to coordinate or we lose big time.

Bert said...

Yes, yes, and yes.