Thursday, November 27, 2008

Michael Ignatieff: I've got ice-water in my veins on this one

A selection of quotes from Michael Ignatieff in a series of media interviews this afternoon/evening, following the release of the Conservative Party's economic update today. I like the energy, and the fire.


“One step at a time. But I will tell you that I've got ice-water in my veins on this one. I'm utterly unintimidated and undeterred by this stuff and the caucus is in the same mood . . . . (Harper) has misread the mood if he thinks that the Liberal caucus is going to cave on this matter. No way. No way.''
Media scrum outside the House of Commons chamber:
“We need to discuss the -- the government wants parliamentarians to be responsible about responding to this crisis to make sacrifices. We're prepared to consider all kinds of sacrifices. We understand the seriousness of the crisis but the measures they've introduced don't address the nature of the crisis. There is nothing in the auto sector. There is nothing on forestry. There is no stimulus I could go on. They've got to come back and give us something that addresses the crisis seriously and unites parliamentarians instead of dividing them.”

“Pay bargaining. Collective bargaining. Pay equity. Right to strike. All this stuff. Boom! New finance rules for political parties. This is not the way to govern on the edge of Niagara Falls. That's what we're saying. So go back and think about it again.”

“No one wants to play political chicken. I am thinking of the workers in the forestry sector, in the automobile sector. What they are crying out for is a government that doesn't play games with this, comes back to us and says, how can we make this work. And if they do that they'll have a very receptive and co-operative liberal party.”

“I can't assure you of anything. I will tell you about what i know about the mood of this party. We are tired of sitting down. Is that clear? Thank you."

On Mike Duffy Live:
“There's a deficit, although they're trying to hide it. There's an attack on pay equity, though they deny it. There's an attack on collective bargaining. And there's a crude partisan swipe at other political parties. And at a time when canadians want parliamentarians to work together, find common solutions, come together, it is the worse possible signal. And we can't support this, Mike.”

“At a time when Canadians are looking for us to work together, you don't divide. You seek to unite. The prime minister is playing divisive politics. He's gambling that we'll back down. We just think this does not help workers. It does not help people who are struggling with their pensions. We think this is just not good enough. There is no stimulus package there. There is nothing for the auto sector. There is nothing for forestry. And there are consistent -- there's a strain of partisan attack that we think is utterly unacceptable in a document like this which should be drawing us together. We can't support it.”

“We think they are actually concealing a deficit. They've got these ridiculous asset sales where they've already added in the money they're going to get from asset sales that haven't occurred. It's flimflamery, mike, and it won't wash. The most serious issue is there is no plan to get us out of what i think will prove to be a serious recession. They are underestimating the severity of the recession we're going into. They're making overoptimistic estimations of our economic situation and it comes back to a basic issue of confidence and trust. We can't trust this government to tell canadians the truth about the state of the economy or what they plan to do about it. And so the prime minister and mr. Flaherty have to go back, have a nice weekend together, have a chat and a think and come back to us with something that this parliament can work with."

“In our view, the stimulus that they put into the economy in '08 wasn't sufficient. We're going into a recession. The numbers are getting worse and worse by the day. Corporate tax revenue is plummeting. Our sense is that they're whistling past the grave yard here. They're not aware of what is about to happen to the Canadian economy. They can't tell Canadians the truth about it and therefore they can't plan adequately. We think the stimulus needs to be put in place now. If you compare what they're doing in Great Britain, this week, the British government put in a massive injection of stimulus. The Chinese government did so two or three weeks ago. I don't know what this government is waiting for. We want action. We want it now. And if we don't get it, the recession will be deeper, harder, and tougher for Canadians than it needs to be. And our job as an opposition is to stay that -- is to say that, stand up for Canadians and fight for them and we will.”

“In a word, no more sitting on our hands. You got me absolutely right, Mike.”

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Steve V said...


That's the line that sticks with me.

ken said...

I hope Ignatieff is right that the Liberals will not cave in.
Harper is imposing salary caps and taking away the right to strike just after the union had indicated that it realised that it would have to keep its demands reasonable. Just plain union bashing.
Also Harper wents to sell crown assets into a buyer's market. More Xmas gifts for his donors no doubt.

James Curran said...

Yep. PM Dion sounds pretty good.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

"I've got ice-water in my veins"? Who says that?! How in love with himself is this guy? It's like at the beginning of the election campaign when he went on CTV's QP and said the reason Harper was calling the election was because he didn't want to face questions from himself, the great Michael Ignatieff. Not the Liberals, not the opposition, not the Liberal front bench, not Stéphane Dion, nor anyone else, but Iggy. It's always about himself, all the time.

And this raises a question for you, where the rubber meets the road. Stéphane Dion is the democratically elected leader of the party. There are those who have plotted against him from the very beginning as you should well know, and although you claim Iggy is some sort of Henry II figure ("who will rid me of this troublesome leader?"), almost all of these people are associated with him.

It is very possible that on Monday the government will be defeated and the GG will ask the LPC if they can command the confidence of the House. To whom should she be speaking, the leader democratically elected by the membership or some other figure imposed by a small self-interested group of officials and MPs?

In 1979 Trudeau returned to power in a similar scenario and went on to his greatest successes. All associated with that time, PET included, have spoken of the liberating effect of political resurrection, as one becomes happily fatalistic. What's the worst that can happen, after all? You've already died once.

So the question looms for you: where do your loyalties lie, to Stéphane Dion, the democratically elected leader you professed to support for over two years, or an unelected leader chosen by the apparatchiks, brownnosers and Dion-backstabbers who support said leader? Pablo Rodriquez or Stéphane Dion?

There can only be one democratically elected leader at any time. Are your loyalties with democracy & Dion, or elsewhere? Once PM, whoever's leader will inevitably lead the party into the next election. It would be impossible to run a government in this most tenuous minority situation with a leadership race running concurrently - would we have our strongest members outside cabinet as is tradition during races when we need all hands on deck or would they remain in cabinet even as they run their campaigns and there arise the obvious conflicts of interest, cabinet solidarity, etc.? (how can you propose ideas different from the government's, and implicitly criticise it, and remain true to cabinet and caucus solidarity?) Especially as Dion would be doing a good job and it would seem ridiculous to have a race to replace a good PM who wants the job.

As you reflect on this, consider icewater. Would Dion ever make such an inflated comment about himself? But if you want to see real "icewater in the veins", which needed no self-praise to be self-evident, find some tape of Dion standing in front of loud violent crowds of hundreds in Quebec and coolly taking questions and arguing the attackers to bits, calmly sipping water between questions before ripping apart their arguments down to their premises and then replacing with better premises and conclusions. I know, I was there. That's real icewater. That's the real deal. And the real deal needs no self-puffery. It speaks for itself.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Holy crap Eugene, that's ridiculous. It's a frickin' expression. We get it, you don't like Michael Ignatieff. He could have said not a word and you'd say his silence was disloyalty. He can't win, I get it. I won't bother dignifying the rest of that nonsense with a response because, frankly, I'm finding it hard to take it seriously. I'll just suggest you splash some of that ice water on your face and give your head a shake brother.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

I notice you don't answer the question. Will you come out and say Stéphane Dion is our leader and should be our PM if the government falls on Monday? Do you agree that in this circumstance the leadership race becomes null & void?

James Curran said...

It's an almost no-win situation for Ignatieff fans. He controls virtually the entire caucus.

A takedown of the government leaves Stephane at the helm, since he won't voluntarily go.

So, some of MI's guys and gals may have to be sick for the vote, if there is one. Should that happen, the rest of the party will be pissed to no end and take it out on poor MI, thereby giving an edge to BR for the continued leadership battle now that the gov't would have survived cause Pablo got the mumps or something.

This was well-played by the Cons. Very well-played. And we, as Liberals, con't know whether to shit or wind our watch.

wilson said...

Do we call Iggy
'the Ice Man' now?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Oy vey. Eugene, for the record, Stephane Dion is still our leader, and I will support him in whatever decision he takes in assorted hypothetical scenrios. Ich bin ein Dionista.

James, you and I both know that Bob has a great deal of caucus support as well. To claim otherwise is silly.

RuralSandi said...

Boy - some people are getting very candidate partisan here.

Ice in my veins, chill up my spine - common expressions, and what do some idiots do? Over analyse a phrase in desparation it seems.

Ted said...


It is called desperation. Michael has shown leadership in taking on Harper. He is showing a groundswell of support for his leadership campaign and his going for Harper's jugular. He showed us he can fundraise with a sophisticated 21st century organizational machine. It's taken the Conservatives aback. They aren't worried yet, only stunned at how poorly their petty partisan play is unfolding for them, but they will be.

Some know that if the government falls that it will be either Dion or Ignatieff in as leader and PM. Some know that in no scenario will it be their guy, he is too far behind and he has too little caucus support. So expect more scorched earth politics in this leadership race: letting Harper off the hook for his fiscal mismanagement because that is your own weakness, stunts like skipping out on debates and answering questions to try to change the channel, attacking a fundraising effort that shows a new successful way and asks for donations to the party as well as the leadership. We are going to see more of this. Desperation breeds desperate actions and stunts. For some, if they can't have their guy, then burn the house down.

James Curran said...

That's a little rich Ted. I seem to remember hundreds of Iggy supporters sitting out the last two years in the party. Present company included.

So we don't support your guy. That makes us wrong in your eyes, but its not okay if we think you're wrong? I see.

Ted said...

On the contrary, Jim. You now don't like Iggy - that's fine, totally fine. I don't want a coronation, that would not be good for the party.

But I also don't want a campaign of stunts and distractions and scorched earth politics. If the party is going to come together and win and renew, then the leadership race HAS to be about the candidates' leadership abilities, about the candidates' priorities and about the candidates' policy directions.

And that is most ably demonstrated by taking on Harper, by demonstrating that you will do for the party what you are actually doing for your campaign, that you will be a government in waiting and not just a leader of the opposition trying to grab headlines for the next day.

James Curran said...

Ted, you continue to get this wrong. I like Mike. I like Mike's wife. Its his arrogant idiots backing him that cause me to cringe.

That's why Iggy didn't get the second and third ballot votes Ted...and you know damn well I'm right.

Our leader is Dion. I'm going to be watching the knife-wielding backstabbing that takes place over the weekend. Should be a sad sight indeed.

Ted said...

By "you don't like Michael", I meant only that you don't like him for leadership, Jim. That's all. I know you like Michael personally.

Me? I've never been one for "camps". I like a leader or I don't. If I do, it doesn't matter what kind of a--holes are running things behind him and if I don't, the nicest buncha guys and friends in the world could be on his team and it wouldn't matter.

Frankly, the same goes with liking a candidate personally or not. I don't need to feel like I could have a fun time with the leader who earns my support. The best leaders are not going to be your best friend.

Demosthenes said...

Come on, BCer. Are you really telling everybody that you weren't lobbied? Hard?

Because, honestly, it sounds like some Ignatieff organizers arrived at peoples' doors (or blogs, or email addresses, or whatever) and either told them "fall in line or you're out in the cold", or handed them all the "speeches and writings and lectures" that they could gin up that'd make the guy look good.

After all, look at this:

That's a little rich Ted. I seem to remember hundreds of Iggy supporters sitting out the last two years in the party. Present company included.

I think this is one of the reasons why a lot of people are crying "kool-aid", BCiT. It was the worst-kept secret in the western world that Ignatieff's people were organizing behind Dion's back and undermining his leadership at every opportunity. So to see Dion supports go "well, let bygones be bygones, I'm gonna support the guy who put the Liberals in this position" seems a tad...confusing.

Plus, how much has really changed?

His position on Iraq hasn't changed that much, except that he admits he was wrong (for all the "right" reasons) while attacking those who were right (for all the "wrong" reasons.) His position on torture has never evolved from "I find it distasteful, but boy howdy is it effective!" He still clearly wants to drag the party to the right. And he's pushing the "Quebec is a nation" line harder than ever.

Other than somehow not making disparaging remarks about the Lebanese and ticking off Ukranians, the only apparent difference between 2006 and 2008 is that in 2006 he hadn't engaged in a two year campaign to undermine his own party for his personal benefit!

(Or so it appears.)

So, yes, there's a big problem here. It looks like you're supporting Brutus after that whole "et tu" unpleasantry, and it sounds like it's because you're a bit concerned about the state of your own back.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Yes Demosthenes, that's exactly what I'm telling you. You vastly overestimate my importance, and influence. I've had one conversation with Mi, and it was during the last leadership race. With about 10 other bloggers. Did I receive an e-mail or two from organizers for various camps inquiring my feelings. Sure. And the first one wasn't from Mi's people, btw.

I have no desire to repeat these things ad infinitum, or disparage other leadership candidates, so I'll just say this: people supportive of EVERY leadership candidate currently in this race, likely w/o the permission of their future candidate, were organizing for a potential leadership race before the election. EVERY once. Your attempts to imply this is someone unique to supports of Michael is silly.

Do I support such activities? No. Neither do Michael, Bob or Dominic support such activities carried out under their name, but without their OK.

I like people in all camps. I've had issues with people in all camps. Am I not going to support a candidate I like because I may think one or two of their organizers are dicks? No. I think that would be stupid. I'm a Liberal, and if we have to pick a new leader, I'm going to support the person I feel is the best choice. And that person is Michael Ignatieff.

As for your tired recitation of anti-Ignatieff talking points distorting past positions, you're changing no one's mind and you're just embarrassing yourself. People know better.