Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buckle Up, It's Iggy!

Mere days after Dion's resignation, the Liberal caucus has endorsed Michael "Iggy" Ignatieff as interim leader. As readers of this blog will know, I was a supporter of Bob Rae's leadership bid. Like Bob, I wish that the LPC had decided to engage the entire membership in the leadership process, but time and circumstances appear to have dictated otherwise. No matter. The Liberal Party has a number of difficult problems on its plate, and continued political infighting about the leadership need not be one of them. Bob Rae himself has been tremendously gracious about his withdrawal, and has unequivocally given his support to Iggy. From Bob's blog:
I offer my full and unqualified support to Michael, a friend and colleague of more than forty years standing. I call on my friends and supporters to do the same. I know Michael to be a person of wisdom and generosity. He will make a great Prime Minister.
Though I'm disappointed that Rae is out, I think it's time to move on. I still believe the OMOV system will be an important mechanism for the LPC to generate funds and interest, and to connect with grassroots supporters. But this debate is better saved for the convention. For now, it's time for Liberals to focus on the new leader. Iggy's greatest task in the coming days will be to bring the party together and devise a strategy to deal with the inevitable CPC attacks prior to and during the upcoming parliamentary session. If he is to succeed, he will require the party's full support, and he should have it.


Anonymous said...

We've sacrificed our principles for expediency. We won't win next time, guaranteed.

Francesco said...

There seems to be an anonymous poster on all the liberal web-sites..who will not state his/her name but continues to slam iggy or the practice at hand. Why not post your real name what do you to hide?? are you a conservative troll ? what is your agenda???

Kevin T. said...

What principles? Whining and fighting about failed leadership candidates, even one who was going to lose regardless. Get with the program, we didn't have a pot to piss in or a leg to stand on. We would not have won otherwise, now we have a fighting chance.
Backed into a corner, you would rather keep fighting amongst ourselves while Harper plotted, is that the principle you want?

Red Canuck said...

Anon - The Liberals may not win the next general election, but I doubt it will be because of the way in which Iggy won the interim leadership. The LPC was under a lot of pressure to find a leader in a timely manner as a result of the current situation in the House. Like I said, I would have preferred a OMOV system, but such a dramatic change in the selection process would have admittedly been tough to organize overnight.

The LPC needs a dramatic renovation, but one thing at a time. For now, I think we need to get behind the new leader.

Anonymous said...

@Francesco: I am Anon#2. Never posted on any website. Not a conservative. Hate iggy with a passion. Don't underestimate the grass roots hatred for that horrible person leading the party. To resort to calling them "Conservative trolls" is not a winning strategy.

Red Tory said...

Anon — If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Get over it and move on.

The days of the circular firing squad are over.

It's time for everyone to pull together and start rowing in the same direction for a change.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Red Tory & others who feel that we should pull together.


Anonymous said...

Folks - please do thorough research before rallying behind Iggy. He is a fervent Iraq war supporter and a Bush apologist.

He does not know Canada at all, despite being Canadian - he emerged from the wings having served the American political establishment and has only just spent the last couple of years in Ottawa learning the game. But he has been a fervent voice for military use in order to promote "democracy". He is not what the Liberal party needs and not what Canada needs.

Even if he DOES win an election, expect the same ideological rubbish, only under the guise of the Liberal party. I am not a conservative, I promise you. But this is a bad day for party politics in Canada and a terrible precedent - there should be no coronation of a political leader, regardless of internal party politics.

Cari said...

The way Ignatieff was put in as interim leader is in the Liberal Constitution... 100% legit. If you want to change it, wait until May.
Only the Conservatives lie about this one.

Red Canuck said...

Anon @ 4:01 - You should do some research yourself. He is not a "fervent" Iraq war supporter. Although he was generally in favour of military action against Saddam, his views on Iraq are nuanced and influenced deeply by the time he spent witnessing the desperate situation of the Kurds. But he has acknowleged that Chretien made the right decision not to get Canada involved in the war.

He may have a different world view than I, but to call him a "Bush apologist" is insulting and patently untrue. More to the point, it's unhelpful to the the party to continue this internal bickering. If you feel strongly that the leadership process was flawed, write to your local Liberal riding association and make a case for discussing this at the next convention. But right now, the party has bigger fish to fry.

Bowler said...

I too have reservations with Iggy. As a Harvard prof. his intellectual support for some of the worst mistakes in the war on terror was troubling.

By the same token, Rae had his flaws too, namely whether he is electable at all in Ontario. I for one was prepared to look past it, but others maybe not so much.

I think like a lot of big "L" Liberals I was somewhat galled by the events of last week and the public reaction. I truly think the coalition's achilles heel was Dion's unpopularity and the public perception - right or wrong - that he had been massively rejected as prime minister in the fall election. Iggy's poll numbers on the other hand, are encouraging and once the Canadian public gets more of a chance to compare him to Harper they will only improve.

Its time to start winning again, and soon. The stakes are too high. Harper and his Cons must go and we have taken a good first step in that direction.


P.S. Iggy from Taxi - ha! only you would make that association, RC.

Red Canuck said...

Bowler - Iggy from Taxi - ha! only you would make that association, RC.

You came through! I was wondering if someone was going to ask why I put a pic of Christopher Lloyd on the post. I was initially going to go with Iggy Pop, but figured that would be too obvious. Maybe next time...

Bowler said...

RC - I would respectfully disagree re: Iraq. In 2003 Ignatieff was in the US,he was at Harvard, he supported the war. He should have known better and he did not. Not unlike Hilary Clinton.

But let me be clear that I am prepared to get past that now - there were lots of otherwise sensible people who were duped into supporting Bush's misadventure.

There were less sensible people who stood up in the House of Commons and openly mocked Chretien for keeping Canada out of it, ie. Stockbot Day and Stephen Harper.

Those are the real bums who we need to throw out of office and if Ignatieff has acknowledged his mistake on Iraq and is the man to beat Harper in 2009, then I am behind him.

Bowler said...

You came through! I was wondering if someone was going to ask why I put a pic of Christopher Lloyd on the post.

Regrettably, as you know, I watched far too many re-runs of Taxi and WKRP in university and had far too few dates :)

Red Canuck said...

Bowler - I based my comments on an interview with Iggy in the Georgia Straight from 2006.

During our conversation, Ignatieff disclosed that he actually has had some second thoughts about his position on the Iraq war. Not regrets, but definitely second thoughts. Only they're not the sort of second thoughts you might expect.

“What I have second thoughts about is, how far should intense personal experience, in this case the suffering of the Kurds and the Shia, impact your personal judgment?” And in his case, “It's possible that it did,” he said.

Ignatieff said he came to the question of the Iraq invasion from a conviction that no boundaries exist between domestic and international commitments to human rights. But also, after working on a documentary film in Iraq, “I was so scorched by what I saw, in what had been done to the Kurds, that I just thought, then and there, I was going to stand with these people.”

It's actually quite an interesting little interview, and addresses some of the very concerns that both you and I have had about him in the past.

MD said...

Ignatieff published a Mea Culpa about Iraq in the NY Times on Aug 5 2007, where he you could argue he expressed some actual regrets (not just second thoughts). Its not a great read...its verbose and struck me as quite arrogant. He regrets the failure of his well intentioned humanitarian aims for the Iraq, but he remains at heart an imperialist ("imperialism lite" is his term, I believe).

Sympathy towards imperialism exhibited by the powerful always troubles me, but there are more pressing matters at stake with a tanking economy. Iggy clearly has the capacity to appreciate nuance, and to see the world in shades of grey as opposed to black and white. And that makes him a better choice to lead the country through difficult times than our present PM. Ultimately, thats all that shoud really matter to Liberals.

Anonymous said...

Sorry RC - you are wrong on this one. I have done the research and, if I look for it, I could probably still find the New York Times Magazine article from circa 2003 - an 8-pager! - where Iggy essentially laid out a detailed justification for the call to arms against Iraq. For lack of a better term, Ignatieff has shown himself to be a secular antinomian - justifying acts of aggression for a higher moral.

One other thing, which frankly I am surprised you raise in the case for supporting Iggy. Honestly, what dumbass doesn't look at the thousands of innocent lives, the profiteering of supply companies and trillions of dollars of US debt five years on and say: "Hey, it's good thing we didn't get involved"... Particularly in Canada where, sentiment is/has been against the war anyway. Come on, RC, you know better than that - it would be political suicide to say anything different, and Iggy knows as much.

Frankly, the party needs to be actively searching for and developing fresh talent at a time like this. Thanks Cari - I'm sure you are correct. The May convention will be the true test of the party's ability to stomach Iggy. But my nausea has already started kicking in. If you don't mind, pass the Pepto Bismol.

Red Canuck said...

Anon - My previous comment about Iggy didn't convey the right message. I know that at the time, Iggy did support the war, and I don't argue with that fact, nor do I agree with his position in any way. I do think, however, that his support for the war (wrongheaded as it was) was for reasons more complex than those of the ideologues in the Bush administration, and so to call him a Bush apologist or any such thing is plain wrong. He has demonstrated an ability for nuanced thought, which has been cultivated by years of writing and travel (quite the opposite of Bush, Palin etc). To me, this is reflected in his comments to the Georgia Straight in 2006, in which he conceded that he had overlooked many of the issues which you described, and in which he stated that Chretien did the right thing by keeping Canada out of Iraq. I want to be clear that I don't condone his previous views or decisions vis-a-vis the war, but I think to label him as some sort of loyal Bushie is to discredit his obvious intellect.

Anonymous said...

RC - I partially agree with your take on it. Iggy can analyse a situation through a more complex set of lenses and prisms than say, Bush or Palin. But then who can't - my dog is a genius compared to those two.

For me, the crux of the issue is not whether he can SEE shades of grey, but HOW he uses the shades of grey he sees to forward an agenda.

There is an excellent review of Iggy's book "The Lesser Evil" in the New York Times from July 2004 by Ronald Steel - google it if you get a chance. It's a three page, in-depth, incredible analysis of exactly what I have been trying to say.

I admit I haven't read the book. But then why should I - the original diatribe I read in the NYT Magazine in 2003 was repugnant and insulting and enough to give me an insight into the thought process of the man. Other articles that I have read have been largely off-putting.

I suppose all I am saying is, we should be careful not to accept at face value a session of media confessionals which serve to recast history and the positions he has taken. I think his ideology will be dangerous for Canada and will put us on a path to greater integration with the US.

One last point. Iggy wrote in a response to Steel's book review. See if you can track that down, too. You'll get some real insight into the elitist, pompous, possible leader-to-be of the Liberal Party. Nevermind Pepto Bismol - pass the Johnny Walker!

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