Meanwhile, in Canada...
March 30, 2006 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Michael Ignatieff, the candidate parachuted into Etobicoke by supporters who would see him as the next leader of the federal Liberal Party of Canada, has just given a speech outlining his vision for Canada, which is probably the forerunner to an official announcement about his candidacy. (Previously, on MeFi.) If he runs, he will be up against Martha Hall Findlay, John Godfrey, and Maurizio Bevilacqua who have all declared. Other contenders might well include Stéphane Dion, Joe Volpe, and hockey legend Ken Dryden. Finally, the race appears to be hotting up.
posted by Zinger (41 comments total)
Ha, Liberals... Who are they kidding? I'd vote Bloq before voting for them. And yet strangely I'd probably vote Democrat before Republican... go figure.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:18 PM on March 30, 2006

I didn't have an option on Michael Ignatieff until I read this piece that appeared in the NY Times Magazine. The whole piece read as militaristic supported by transparent appeals to nationalism and patriotism. Michael is a good writer and obviously intelligent but I don't think he would lead Canada in a good direction.
posted by bhouston at 7:26 PM on March 30, 2006

Not to mention Ashley McIssac and David Orchard.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:54 PM on March 30, 2006

"Hotting up"?

Anyhoo, I doubt Ignatieff has legs outside of Ontario.
I'd like to see Ken Dryden have a go at it, he's much taller in person than I expected.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:57 PM on March 30, 2006

Ken Dryden is *very* tall. My father and I had season's tickets to the Nova Scotia (or was it Halifax?) Voyageurs, the Habs' farm team, in the late 60's/early 70's. Our seats were right behind the net, and I was always distressed because that tall goalie who leaned on his stick blocked our view.

Oh, and I'm also leery of Ignatieff.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:01 PM on March 30, 2006

Something doesn't ring true about Ignatieff, despite the silver tongue.
He seems to be sowing his seeds on both sides of the fence. His speeches read like horoscopes, or Life's Little Instruction Book--if you ignore the contradictions, there's something for everybody. Methinks he doth use "serious" too much.

The real truth about Iraq is that we just don't know -- yet -- whether the dream will do its work this time.

Wake up, Michael. It's not a dream, it's a nightmare.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:02 PM on March 30, 2006

And somebody should tell Martha Hall Findlay to get her feet off the furniture. She lost 250,000 votes right there.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:06 PM on March 30, 2006

This is shaping up to be a depressing leadership campaign. I have to agree that Ignatieff just doesn't seem genuine, however undeniably intelligent and well spoken he is. As for the others, I have yet to see a vision for the future that I can both like and believe.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:12 PM on March 30, 2006

I'd like to see Dryden as PM just to see the little sign on his desk:
"The Puck Stops Here".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:14 PM on March 30, 2006

If Dryden manages the country anything like he managed the Leafs, we're all in big trouble. Don't forget Stronach, McCallum and Copps, who have also been rumoured to be interested in the job.
posted by loquax at 8:27 PM on March 30, 2006

What happened to Bob Rae? (I've been asleep for two weeks).
posted by bobloblaw at 8:30 PM on March 30, 2006

Alvy, 'hotting up' is probably a British expression - if you Google it you'll see it's not unique to me.
posted by Zinger at 8:37 PM on March 30, 2006

Oh yeah, him too, though he's polling terribly in Ontario.
posted by loquax at 8:38 PM on March 30, 2006

Zinger: Cool, I've never heard that expression before!
(I was worried that you'd think I was being a prick about it, but considering I'm favoring a dark horse candidate because he's super-freakin' tall, it's pretty obvious I'm not in any position to nitpick.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2006

I've always liked Sheila Copps. Principled leftist. Nobody's baby. Finished third in 1990 leadership race--behind Chrétien and Martin.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:46 PM on March 30, 2006

Alvy - no, I took it as an honest question. It was only a few days ago I had to look up an expression used here on MeFi ("living on the down low") so...

Re: Shelia Copps, hasn't she already said no thanks, she's happy being a Sunshine Girl, er, Sun Columnist? Stronach hasn't said what she's doing although given that she's alleged to be doing French immersion at the moment, chances are...McCallum I'd forgotten about, and Rae I really can't believe would be seriously considering it... As for MacIssac, ffffft. The boy should stick to fiddlin'.
posted by Zinger at 8:56 PM on March 30, 2006

Stronach needs a lot more time in the political hotseat before I would even consider her as an mp, much less leader of any party; she needs to be road tested, in other words. Frankly, I don't see any current politician leading the Liberals into an election and winning save for....Yeah, nobody. That's what 12 years of running the country will do to a party. The Libs need some good time being the Opposition, making some good bills and generally showing Canada why we have a love affair with the Liberals. Of course, I'm a Democrat at heart, and the recent CAW decision to renounce NDP support is a serious blow. I've always felt that the country would be a better place if it was led by the NDP, circa the Broadbent years, of course.
posted by ashbury at 9:13 PM on March 30, 2006

Oh, and Sheila Copps would have my vote in second. Integrity honesty, and balls. Just like Trudeau. There, I godwinned the thread.
posted by ashbury at 9:14 PM on March 30, 2006

Rae looks like he's serious. He was under a lot of pressure to run as a Liberal candidate in the last federal election, and is a very smart man, and able politically, albeit with a lot of baggage. I'd rather see him as leader than Copps or Stronach or Dryden or really just about anyone other than maybe Ignatieff. McCallum is definitely a dark horse, but he's said he's interested, and seems to be putting together a team. As far as I know, Copps hasn't ruled herself out.
posted by loquax at 9:14 PM on March 30, 2006

"Able politically"?

Loquax, you're a tool. Do you remember Ontario in the mid-90s?

This is a good introduction to the leadership race.
posted by docgonzo at 9:18 PM on March 30, 2006

I'm a tool? Maybe you need a refresher. I think being elected Premier of the province of Ontario indicates some political ability, yes. Not to mention his federal election victories. His background work on education and the Air India case since, plus the fact that he still has enough credibility to even consider a run at the Liberal leadership ten years after his last elected job also seem to indicate some skills. I remember Ontario in the mid '90s, I've debated about it here at length. I opposed almost everything he did, but I do think he's brilliant, and a genuinely good person. The fact that he's a Rhodes scholar seems to agree with me. Contrast him with Copps, who, as far as I know, never actually did anything but make a name for herself in parliament, and I'll take him anyday.
posted by loquax at 9:29 PM on March 30, 2006

I was living in BC during the Bob Rae years, but from what I remember, Rae trashed the health sector, specifically in mental health, and destroyed the education sector, creating lots of unemployed teachers and lots of crazy people with nowhere to go to find help for themselves. Maybe I'm misremembering, but I don't think so.
posted by ashbury at 9:31 PM on March 30, 2006

I never said Bob Rae was a good Premier. Quite the opposite, he was a disaster for the province, neccessitating, some would argue, the changes that his successor introduced. All I said was that he was smart, and politically able. I don't think there's any doubt of that. I don't know if he'd be a good Prime Minister, but I think he'd be a good leader of the Liberal Party (except for his total lack of support in Ontario), especially when contrasted with the collection of amateurs and, shall we say, less than inspirational choices available. If the Liberal party needs time out of office to regroup, and is to lose the next election anyways, I can think of worse caretaker leaders than Rae.
posted by loquax at 9:40 PM on March 30, 2006

Ignatieff's uncanny ability to get people's goat makes me like him more and more.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:41 PM on March 30, 2006

I want Ignatieff to be the next Prime Minister (I forecast October 2007).

He has a clear vision for the future of this country, something Harper has never had. IMHO, Harper is heading down the same secretive path that Bush went, but the Canadian media is a pack of mad wolves compared to the lapdogs in the US. They're already starting to nip at his ankles.

Ignatieff is a blue enough Grit to bring the red Tories back to the good side. He's not a "bleeding heart" either; he has strong-as-steel Canadian values, but pulls no punches.
posted by SSinVan at 10:16 PM on March 30, 2006

An ignorant American — who has traveled through 8 of the 10 provinces (no territories), and who lives less than 100 miles from the border — wants to know:

Was there a point to the parachuting? Avoiding traffic tie-ups? To highlight his war record? Was it a 'Mission Accomplished' flight suit kind of see-how-tough-I-am nonsense?

Couldn't he have taken the bus? (Etobicoke being outside Toronto, make that the Spadina Bus.)
posted by LeLiLo at 11:57 PM on March 30, 2006

So he thinks it's okay to torture people and hold them wthout charge, to start wars with no idea how to finish them, because really they are just following the words of a man (Jefferson) who supported a bitter civil war to not pay his taxes?

Not that it isn't a convincing essay - he is a good writer and yes, instability is scary. But claiming that Europeans voted against the EU constitution because they wanted to keep democracy from Eastern Europe and Turkey? Claptrap - and libellous claptrap at that. The constitution was a mess, a hundreds of pages long morass. You might notice that since then, the EU has not stopped admitting members and Turkey's application has proceeded.

Without Jefferson, the United States would have been.... Canada. And would have had a parliamentary democracy, instead of a congressional democracy. Frankly, parliamentary democracies have been one of the more stable forms of government around the world. Jefferson was an important thinker of an age, but so was Voltaire, Locke and many others from other countriees. Self-rule is actually a concept that goes back into the middle ages, even to the mists of time (of course, who is included has changed and expanded, which is a Good Thing). But it is arrogant for Americans to claim they invented something which the British already had been working on for 100s of years - well, it's annoying.

While Americans characteristically oversell and exaggerate the world's desire to live as they do, it is actually reasonable to suppose, as Americans believe, that most human beings, if given the chance, would like to rule themselves. It is not imperialistic to believe this. It might even be condescending to believe anything else.

Which is why it is a good idea to support Amnesty International, not to be constantly on their list. Which is why the pro-business bodies like the WTO shouldn't be undermining the laws of democratically elected governments. Heck, the United States refuses even to respect their own trade treaties with Canada and keeps trying to tell our government how we should be managing our Crown forests.

It's condescending to tell people that you want them to rule themselves, and then to get upset when they do what they want to, not what you want them to do.

Basically, this is a long, well-written somewhat toned town version, but it's still "If you're not with us, you're against us". It says that everyone who thinks that current American policy is wrong is "against democracy". It ignores that many people just think the current American administration is corrupt and incompetent (and not without a great deal of evidence for this).

And that, frankly, American democracy is only one of many, many different kinds of democracy, some of which are more stable and provide a better quality of life than the American version. (Yes, I'm thinking of Canada, but maybe I should be gettng worried if Ignatieff is getting more powerful.) I would love to see democracy spread - preferrable through non-violence, and for it to be true democracy, the belief that all people are not simply created equal but should be treated as so under the law, which comes with ideals like tolerance for difference, universal healthcare and social responsibility. This is not the American project.
posted by jb at 12:29 AM on March 31, 2006

Couldn't he have taken the bus? (Etobicoke being outside Toronto, make that the Spadina Bus.)
posted by lelilo at 11:57 PM PST on March 30 [!]

Actually, he would have several options - the subway to Royal York and then the Royal York bus to Queensway, and then walked. (If his office is where Jean Augustine's was). Or he could have taken the Queen streetcar to Roncesvalles, and then picked up the Queensway bus, but that might have taken longer with the connections.

Yes, I was born and raised in Etobicoke, why do you ask?
posted by jb at 12:33 AM on March 31, 2006

Loquax, you're a tool. Do you remember Ontario in the mid-90s?

I do. I remember that Rae tried to responsibily balance the budget during a world-wide recession, and the unions eviscerated him for it. (I noticed with a heavy, heavy heart how the day after the Tory election that the unions reverted their support to the NDP)

That allowed the Tories to come in, who cut the budget irresponsibly, and ran a deficit, even as the world economy was booming. (I love Ontario, but frankly we aren't big enough to affect the world economy).

I was not only in Ontario, but in highschool and university. I watched education be shafted, I watched the TTC be cut short, I watched homelessness explode and people died in Toronto. The middle class got their paltry few hundred dollars, and the province got screwed, and valuable provincial assets sold off to the premier's drinking buddies for far less than they were worth. The 407 highway, the entire Ontario generation power system -- all a massive loss for the province, and they got pittance.

The NDP government was inexperienced and made mistakes. The Tory government was coolly kleptocratic.

The 90s in Ontario will be remembered as a Tory nightmare.
posted by jb at 12:44 AM on March 31, 2006

I was living in BC during the Bob Rae years, but from what I remember, Rae trashed the health sector, specifically in mental health, and destroyed the education sector, creating lots of unemployed teachers and lots of crazy people with nowhere to go to find help for themselves. Maybe I'm misremembering, but I don't think so.
posted by ashbury at 9:31 PM PST on March 30 [!]

No, that was the Tories. Rae was the guy before. The Tories had a very effective propaganda system - maybe the BC media got it mixed up.

My husband and I were both in the education system under Rae and the Tories - Rae made minor cuts that were sustainable, and the Tories slashed and burned.

For example - Rae cuts: teachers to take 3 professional development days a year; Tories: cut an entire grade from highschool (maybe good idea, but really badly done), decreased teacher preparation time, screwed older schools on funding by crazy new models by area of hallway instead of by student, provoked a row with the teachers that lead to work to rule for years. The Tory education minister actually said he wanted to provoke a crisis in education.

Trust me, as a student at time, the Tories were the problem. Friends of mine who teach undergraduates noticed a distinct drop in the abilities of students coming from Ontario highschools, despite all the vaunted "reform".

And it was the Tories who closed the mental health hospitals, and under the tories that homelessness in Toronto exploded.
posted by jb at 12:53 AM on March 31, 2006

Man, I totally hope Ken Dryden makes a go of it. He spent a few months sitting at the back of my science class in high school doing research for this book (one of my friends was on the original cover), and he seemed HUGE at the time. Heheheh. Extremely nice guy though, and he really did just disappear into the background after a certain amount of time. Funny, I never did read that book, but I think I'd like to see what his view of our school was, and how it meshes with my memories from 13 years ago (omg, I feel really old now)
posted by antifuse at 1:05 AM on March 31, 2006

Ignatieff supports war crime, therefore a vote for him would be unthinkable. I used to find his pieces quite interesting but when he came out as a pro-war crime "liberal" he went into the dustbin, as far as I'm concerned.
posted by Decani at 4:48 AM on March 31, 2006

I think Ignatieff has taken up objectionable positions on torture and militarism and yet, and yet... he has exactly the qualities that Canadians tend to like in leaders... he is intelligent and charismatic (at least compared to the rest of them), he is already a name which is recognized on a world stage and most important of all he clearly enjoys annoying people.

Whether you think that in terms of their policies Trudeau and Chretien were successful or not, they were both leaders who Canadians took to their hearts, precisely because they embodied a certain independence of thought on the international stage. Ignatieff would certainly do the same. His would not be a dull chief-executive kind of leadership which you would get from eg. Stronach.

Harper is showing signs of this kind of independence too, although some of it appears calculated. He may turn out to be harder to unseat than the liberals expect.

(I must re-iterate that none of this has to do with policies at all).
posted by unSane at 5:17 AM on March 31, 2006

I like Rae and think he's among the smartest people that could be considered, but I don't know if memories are short enough for him to be a viable candidate.

the problem with the Liberal party - or ONE of the problems - at the moment is that they seem really in the thrall of the back-room teams. There are cliques of organizers and bagmen who should probably have been thoroughly discredited in the Martin era but who are still kicking around.

I think you have to look there to see where the real potential might be. There is one bunch of very connected, very experienced young guys who have been bopping around all corners of the Liberal party for a few years now in particular that seem to have the potential to make a lot of things happen.
posted by mikel at 6:13 AM on March 31, 2006

Did you folks catch this op/ed in the globe yesterday by the way?

Forget 'values,' foreign policy should pursue the national interest - Roy Rempel

Not only has Canada's international policy become disconnected from the country's national interests, the "values-based" approach to foreign policy has done the country a great disservice and has even created, in the minds of many Canadians, a false self-image. Foreign-policy resources, which ought to have been directed toward enhancing the national interest, have been too widely dispersed in support of a multitude of "values-based" policies and tasks. Too often what has been discretionary, irrelevant or even counter to the country's real interests has become central; issues most important to ordinary Canadians have been ignored or underfunded.

Reads pretty much like an endorsement of Ignatieff.

Harper is showing signs of this kind of independence too, although some of it appears calculated. He may turn out to be harder to unseat than the liberals expect.

I agree. The CPC is polling higher since the election, and it looks like the economy will keep rolling in the short term at least. The Conservatives haven't given people reason to be scared of their "agenda" (yet, anyways), and it seems like people are getting over the knee jerk opposition to the party of the last 15 years. If this keeps up, the other parties will have to use different strategies to win votes next time around, as the old attack ads won't have the same impact. Hard to believe that the Liberals will be able to win a quick election without either some serious miscues on the part of the government or a truly charismatic and uniting leader. (Of course, a CPC led session of parliament has yet to begin, so who knows).
posted by loquax at 6:54 AM on March 31, 2006

It says that everyone who thinks that current American policy is wrong is "against democracy".

Yeah, I found the bit about Canada, et al, being against spreading democracy in Iraq and elsewhere to be interesting. I didn’t realize the case for Iraq had been built on the basis of "democracy-spreading." Wasn’t there some bit about hard evidence of WMD’s? Evidence we couldn’t be allowed to see, but should take their word for? Don't I remember a lot of "this is not about regime change" talk?
posted by dreamsign at 8:48 AM on March 31, 2006

Ignatieff gives me the creeps, if only for his views on torture. I would love love love to see Copps get the job but it doesn't seem likely she'd go for it. Too bad. Can you imagine Shelia Copps as our Prime Minister? Whoo baby!
posted by stinkycheese at 9:48 AM on March 31, 2006

Can you imagine Shelia Copps as our Prime Minister? Whoo baby!

I'm shocked to see all the support for Copps. Why do people like her? What has she ever done to indicate that she'd be a good leader of the party or the country? She was a brat-packer, and everyone got laughs out of that, but what else? Undistinguished turns as deputy PM, environment minister and heritage minister? The flag fiasco? Her GST snafu? Her abrasiveness towards Martin after she lost the last leadership race? IMO, she's not a team player, and she's not particularly qualified for anything beyond back bencher, if that.
posted by loquax at 11:37 AM on March 31, 2006

Well, even though the sight of Shelia Copps writing for the Sun made me a little sick, I think that we can rest assured she would not be bending over for GW, et al. Seems to me she is a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Canadian who would purge the Liberal Party of a lot of Martin's business-friendly cronies & get us a little closer to the Trudeau-style Canada of old...

posted by stinkycheese at 12:13 PM on March 31, 2006

And how was the GST thing a snafu? At least she had the gumption to resign and run again after the Liberals broke their promise there. And, as you'll recall, she was re-elected.

As far as I'm concerned, she had every right to be abrasive to Martin too, considering how he basically pushed her out with Valeri, and was a real jerk about it to boot.

Thank god that Martin is gone - I'm no fan of Harper, or the Liberals in general for that matter, but Copps is at least of 'the old school', and I'm thinking she would be far more pro-active socially than Chretien ever was.
posted by stinkycheese at 12:18 PM on March 31, 2006

Sheila Copps was a knee-jerk and incompetent Heritage Minister, and seems to be a voice for simplistic and unnuanced politics. I would much rather have a leader who isn't thought of as an "ohhh boy", but rather can react bravely and thoughtfully to new problems that arise. I like Ignatieff's profile but dislike his politics (see: support for Iraq War etc, above). I like Rae's current profile but don't think he could get elected. (Ontario is not a fan.) Stronach could not win the leadership, let alone a general election. Findlay I don't think is a serious candidate. And Godfrey seems interesting but I'm not sure how much political capital he's got.

Dryden's the one who most appeals to me, mostly on the grounds of this letter....
posted by Marquis at 5:15 AM on April 2, 2006

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