Friday, November 14, 2008

Michael Ignatieff for Liberal leader

Although I'm making my decision far earlier in this leadership race than I did in 2006, I weighed the decision just as closely and to me the choice is clear: Michael Ignatieff is the right choice to be the next leader of the Liberal Party. Michael has the experience and the skill to lead this party now, and to win the next election and become Prime Minister.

I gave serious thought to supporting Michael in 2006. In the end, I decided to support Stephane Dion and that's a decision I've never regretted. Since that last leadership race though, I'm pleased to say the few lingering reservations I've had about Michael have been addressed. He's a much better candidate than he was two years ago.

Michael was already a learned individual and a charismatic orator with whom I have a lot in common on policy issues. My main concerns last time were that he had been out of the country to long and was still a relative newcomer to the Liberal Party and the political scene. That opened him up to unfair attacks and mischaracterization of his past writings. Now, that has changed.

Since the last race, as Dion's deputy leader, Michael has learned the craft of politics and has proven himself to be an able and effective performer in the House and on the stump, holding the Conservatives to account and making the case to Canadians for the Liberals. He has learned the retail side of politics, so important to success in an election. And I believe Michael personally has been a loyal supporter of Dion, and the Liberal cause, as our deputy leader.

I feel he brings a social policy thrust in line with the best traditions of Liberalism, and a centrist foreign policy focus that is informed, realistic, and in line with where most Canadians are today. Sure, we've disagreed in the past. Iraq (a lot of good people on the left supported that war initially), but he has come around on that. Quebec as a nation, but that seems like a dead issue now anyways.

I think we have (at the moment) two other excellent candidates for the leadership. Bob Rae is one of the most skilled pure politicians I've met, and I really like Dominic Leblanc and his take on the Liberal Party. Either would make able leaders, I just feel policy-wise Michael is closer to where I am than Bob is, and I just don't feel Dominic is the leader to take on Stephen Harper today. For sure, though, he's a future leader of this party and brings a needed voice to the debate.

Last campaign, Michael did a very good job of bringing new people, and a lot of youth, into the party and getting them involved in the campaign. I've been impressed this time at how he's been broadening the tent even further. Any campaign that has Mark Marrisen and David Herle on the same team as Penny Collenette and Warren Kinsella – that's a pretty broad tent, and it speaks well to Michael's ability to unite this party and bring us forward together to take on the Conservative agenda.

Party reform is an important issue to me. It was an important part of Michael's last campaign, and it will be again. Watching his launch press conference yesterday, I was pleased with his commitment to a policy conference within 100 days of the leadership, but I was also impressed at his desire to reach out and have a conversation with Liberals on reform. This clearly won't be a top-down exercise; Michael is looking to hear from the grassroots on how our party should be reformed. That's absolutely the right approach, and I'll be continuing to bring my ideas forward.

The Michael Ignatieff I see in 2008 is a man who came into the last race with already impressive credentials, and has learned and grown a lot over the last two years. I think he's more well-rounded, I think he's more humble, and is now more ready to unite this party and lead us forward. And he's an inspiring orator with the potential to bring more Canadians into the political process and into the Liberal Party.

It won't be easy. I think this race is a lot closer than many people think. Don't believe the media spin. Rae has quietly been building a lot of support, and will be a formidable challenger. Leblanc is attracting a lot of top-rank organizers, and could very easily come up the middle to win this thing. Whoever wins is going to do it by working hard, in the trenches, riding by riding, energizing grassroots Liberals.

When I examine the field though, it's clear to me that Michael is the candidate that's able to attract support from the broadest base of Canadians, is ready to go toe-to-toe with Harper and lead today, and has the best chance of bringing the Liberal Party together and enabling real party reform.

For these reasons, and more, I'll be supporting Michael Ignatieff for leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

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16 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Although I'm making my decision far earlier in this leadership race than I did in 2006, I weighed the decision just as closely"

And how'd your decision in 2006 work out? Weren't you a Dion supporter? And Didn't you adamantly claim he would win the election?

I'm not saying you're wrong now, but you're previous leadership rational leads one to question your current one.

-scott
thescottross

RuralSandi said...

I noticed something yesterday in the news conference - the media tried to goad Ignatieff to say something negative about Dion - he didn't even acknowledge the question - he didn't fall for it.

Scottross....there are only so many choices....and BC'r has made his whether you approve of his choice or not and attacking him for his choice or that he was a Dion supporter is a CHEAP silly shot.

Keith Torrie said...

AMAZING. Welcome aboard!!

Its going to be an amazing campaign. Look forward to following your blog during it.

to the Future said...

I find it quite humourous that Ignatieff supporters would brag that he said nothing negative about Dion at the press conference when Ignatieff has been plotting and running a leadership campaign behind Dion's back for many months.

I don't support any candidate at present, but I think discussion is extremely healthy for the Liberal Party. I don't think the scottross is taking a cheap shot at anyone, he is asking some interesting questions. I would like to hear the good and the bad about all the candidates who are going to run. I find the meat on the bones discussion about why Liberals are choosing certain candidates very interesting.

Ted said...

I think it is a very good sign for Michael if intelligent, moderate, civil, engaged grassroots Liberals like Jeff are siding up with him.

I also think it is a very good sign for the Liberals if intelligent, moderate, civil, engaged grassroots Liberal supporters of Dion like Jeff are staying involved in the leadership race, for whatever candidate, despite supporting Dion the last time.

RuralSandi said...

I think "to the Future" is reading too much Secret Source Taber. Let's move on from this nonsense please.

After all, someone is always plotting and in the wings waiting in ALL parties. Do you think Mulcair, for example, hasn't plans? Or, say Flaherty, Prentice?

Greg said...

See, Double J, I think you're great, but choosing Iggy at this point is a bad, bad idea.

You guys have already tried and failed with an academic-turned-politician. Iggy's Establishment through and through. Canadians don't want an Establishment member as Prime Minister, and especially not a Toronto-based leader at that.

Ugh! Perception matters more than policy - why do Liberals have such a hard time grasping this concept now? I can't for the life of me see Iggy responding well with working class Ontario voters. And they're your only chance to win back government. The Liberals are pretty much D.O.A. now in Alberta-Saskatchewan-Manitoba, you've got an uphill battle in B.C., Ontario's not friendly to federal Liberals nearly as much as before.

Gosh, can't wait to see the Dippers take even more seats from Liberals in the next election. That will be very satisfying. Then the Grit-and-Bear-It Party will actually change.

BTW, you're awesome.

Greg said...

Double J! Why? Why Iggy?

He's a brilliant man and yes, he's more polished now than in 2006. But come on, seriously?

I never say this on a blog, but WTF? The old ways are destroying your party's brand - I would have thought the Grits would have taken the lessons of the last election and applied them to finding a new, outsider candidate that really speaks to Canadians, not Liberal insiders.

I certainly hope Iggy's gotten a lot better at relating to average voters. An Establishment Guy like him who also happens to be from a Toronto riding is going to be a very tough sell.

In any event, I look forward to more NDP seats in the next election at Liberals' expense with Iggy as leader.

BTW, you're a great guy Double J and it's not personal.

Ted said...

One of the criticisms of Iggy I've never quite understood is the one that goes - I don't like him because he's been away from the country and therefore not connected to Canadians AND he is the Party Establishment and therefore not connected to Canadians. I just don't see how anyone can reconcile those two views.

Really, I'm beginning to think people think he's not human at all but some weird alien who, instead of being all things to all people, is all bad things to all detractors.

It's a puzzle really.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Well Scott, here's another way of looking at it. I've correctly called the winner of the last two leadership races. Now, granted, calling a Martin win wasn't exactly a great feat of prognostication. Anyway, if you want to refight old leadership battles, go for it, but I won't play along. Unless it's 1967, I'm still pissed Winters didn't win that one.

sandi, the media will indeed try to inject their narrarive into the race. I think with the experience Michael has gained since the last race, he'll be better able to handle their tricks.

thanks keith.

future, what I find interesting is all these anonymous people that totally aren't supporting anyone that are singling-out supporters of Ignatieff for sins that were committed by supporters of everyone. Interesting that.

ted, I think it's going to be a loooong five months.

hughsey, I don't see what people find so appealing about Layton either, and yet, your dipper friends love him. So what do we know? Anyway, it's interesting. Last time Michael wasn't in the party long enough, now he's been here too long. Crazyness. As for predicting more NDP seats next election, anytime you want to make a wager on that my friend, you know where to find me...

Ted, apparently his sweetspot between interloper and establishment hack was one year ago. Missed it by that much!

to the Future said...

BCer,
80% of the folks posting are "anonymous" using colourful names, nothing new there.
I am not on the campaign of Ignatieff, Rae or Leblanc. I have been in the Liberal Party for 30 years. I don't think anyone should condone Rae or Ignatieff for campaigning behind Dion's back, especially when the Party and Leader were struggling. Their energies would have been put to more constructive and loyal use by helping Mr. Dion instead. I don't recall Kennedy, Hall-Findlay or others organizing behind the scenes, so I think the point I raise is quite legit.
I sincerely hope you are not going to be attacking posters that say something negative about Ignatieff or another candidate. It takes debate to a whole new lower level.

Rural Sandi-another anonymous,your energies might be put to better use by convincing Liberals like me why I should vote for Ignatieff. I have worked the ground level in Leadership campaigns, I know exactly how they work, the dirty moves, the wheeling and dealing and your tone, quite frankly is juvenile.

A BCer in Toronto said...

future, I don't believe that any candidate was actively organizing against Dion. But, as much as I wish they could, I don't believe Michael, or Bob, or Dominic, or anyone else can control what overzealous people that support them might do. So I'm not going to blame any of them for what a bad apple or two might do against their wishes. I think anyone looking for some kind of purity with any possible contender in that regard will be looking for a long time. Rather than sitting on the outside because there may be one or two people in a camp whose actions I've disagreed with in the past, I chose to support who I feel is the best candidate, and do what little I can do as a lowly blogger to be in favour of a civil, friendly race.

And I don't think I was attacking anyone for attacking Michael. I'll take issue with people that launch unfair attacks on Michael and debate their point, not attack them. And I didn't intend to attack you.

My comment on anonymous commenters, speaking broadly, is that during the leadership they seem to come out of the woodwork, with agendas that aren't always clear, or sometimes are all too clear. I suspect it will get to be tiring.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

BCer, you are usually one of the few worthwhile Canadian bloggers and you were right to support Dion. And dead wrong to be lining up with Iggy now, a decision you may well want to revisit down the line. Two words: "misplaced specificity", pg. 92, Ignatieff's World, by Denis Smith. Check it out on Google Books.

a) This is one of the most tortured posts you've done, as was Kinsella's before you: "I disagree with him on all these existential issues, but I'm supporting him anyway"? This from a guy who said his choice last time came down to Dryden & Dion because he wanted a leader he could be proud about supporting and never apologise for. As Dion likes to remind people, he has never had to renounce anything he's said or done.

b) Who are these pro-war lefties of which you speak? Friedman? Hitchens? Anyone who's read them through the years would know they're not lefties. Name me a prominent Canadian lefty or progressive who supported the war.

c) I'm writing you from QC and if you think Iggy wasn't disloyal to Dion, then you're dreaming. What is this, Henry II/Paul Martin: "Everyone around me and everyone who supported me was disloyal to Dion but I have/had no idea and never supported it myself". Yeah, like, really? Dude, you're supporting the guy who more than any other brought down Dion. Of course, it could just be incompetence. For example, Iggy contradicting Dion on the Green Shift to La Presse in the last two weeks of the campaign: cynical subversion or incompetence?

Do you remember the Rob Silver's comment in Macleans that went unnoticed back on October 17 2007:

"The US and Russia treat international law much like certain unnamed Quebec Liberal MPs treats Stephane Dion's leadership. In public, they say all the right things: "International law has my full confidence", "I am solidly behind this treaty", heck, I hear at a recent UN meeting, a bunch of US diplomats led the entire assembly in chants of "Tous Ensemble". Unfortunately, in reality, we all know that their support of international law is complete and utter BS. They do absolutely everything in their power to ignore and undermine it. They bad mouth it constantly behind the scenes and try to make sure that international law is considered "not hot" each Saturday morning by reporters who are only too happy to print their off-the record garbage. It is ultimately what is in their own narrow self-interest that matters and at the first opportunity, they will replace international law with a different system.

BCer, this endorsement saddens me, because it seems so contrary to everything you have written in the past so as to lead me to wonder whether your motivations have changed as well. I hope not. I don't just think it's wrong because Ignatieff is unworthy of the Pearson-Trudeau-Chr├ętien-Dion Liberal Party, but because you're unwittingly advocating electoral suicide. Can you imagine campaigning for an apologist for torture, an Iraq War cheerleader? (Again, read Smith's book. There's no misrepresentation. Unless it's wrong to quote Iggy, as Dion did in Vancouver in 2006, and had Iggy respond he was "putting words in his mouth" - except they're his words.)

You are now supporting a disloyal egotist, an airhead in intellectual terms (professors of international relations think he's a bad joke), who ignited the "nation" debacle, undermined Dion, supported Iraq War & torture, and is so unpatriotic that not only did he stay out of the country for 30 years during the country's hardest debates, but claimed to be American in his writings.

He did, however, go to UCC, and drink sherry at Oxbridge & Harvard cocktail parties. Harper vs. Iggy wouldn't be Tim's vs. Starbucks, it'd be Tim's vs. High Tea at Buckingham Palace.

Keep on reflecting, svp.

Anonymous said...

RuralSandi: I suggest you read comments before you respond to them. I never attacked Bcer for supporting Ignatieff, infact I said I wasn't saying he was wrong to do so.

I merely said, and I said it so well the first time let me quote myself exactly: "I'm not saying you're wrong now, but you're previous leadership rational leads one to question your current one."

Questioning and attacking are two separate things RuralSandi.

-scott
thescottross

A BCer in Toronto said...

eugene, I'm sorry we're not on the same page this time. Not everyone will always agree with everyone, as much as we may wish it so.

To address a few of your points, I don't feel my logic to be tortured at all. Last time, my choice did come down to Stephane and Ken. I seriously considered Michael, but crossed him off my list. Not because I seriously disagreed with him on any policy issue, frankly. Because I didn't.

I was on the same page as Michael on the bulk of the issues, and if you go back and read my old leadership forums, you'll see while I called him out when he screwed up I also defended him from many, what I felt were, unfair attacks.

As I said, it wasn't policy that led me to cross Michael off my list. Besides just liking Stephane and Ken better, I felt that Michael didn't have enough political experience to be our leader, hadn't been in the party long enough, and hadn't been back on the Canadian scene long enough to put some distance between him, and the past writings that many will construe and use against him.

All those objections I had before have now dissipated. He's been an MP and an effective deputy leader for two years, he's worked for the Liberal cause across the country, he has learned retail politics and he has built a national profile. Besides the nation thing I haven't disagreed with Michael on policy, and with my previous strategic objections now gone, I am quite happy to support him.

I also feel that he's the best candidate on offer. I like Bob, and I gave very serious thought to Dominic, I like him quite a lot. But I really like Michael, and for the reasons I outlined earlier, I feel he's the right choice.

On his past support for the Iraq war, I really don't think that's the issue you're making it out to be. In the U.S., where he was at the time, most people were behind that war. If you want a name, how about Hillary Clinton? And she nearly won the democratic nomination. She, like Michael, and many others, have come around on the issue. And, frankly, we've all moved on.

As for Quebec, I have and continue to have concerns with some of what happens in the Quebec wing of our party. I don't believe however that Michael or Bob or Dominic or any other candidate past, present or future were ever doing anything to actively undermine our leader. Might some bad apples who supported one candidate or another have been doing things without their knowledge or permission? I'm sure of it. And it pisses me off.

But I don't think such nonsense is isolated to supporters of any one candidate. And I'm not going to say I won't support a candidate because someone I might have an issue with is supporting them too. That's not going to grow the party, or unify it. I prefer to join the team of the candidate I believe in and, in whatever small way I can, be an advocate and a voice for the issues that I care about and the way I feel politics should be done.

Anyway, that's my thought process, which I feel is logically arrived at. While I know your thoughts on Michael, I look forward to hearing about your own decision-making process, where you end up, and how you end up there.

RuralSandi said...

Hmmm....and Rae hasn't been part of the elite, Power Corp folks,etc.? LOL.

Okay, so a name like "to the future", another anonymous, calling other people out because he feels 80% of the folks posting are "anonymous" using colourful names, nothing new there.
- that's a little rich.

A few weeks ago, I caught part of a program showing a speech that was exactly the speech material Layton uses today - it was David Lewis in "1972".....nothing has changed with the NDP in at least 40 years.

I don't care if you feel you are in the know more than anyone else and calling people juvenile doesn't quite win an argument.

I think the fact that Ignatieff was a journalist who was in and reported on poor, war torn countries makes him very aware of hardships in life.