Wednesday, December 10, 2008

We're coming for you, Steve

I do feel a little cheated with the early end to this leadership race (didn't even get a Michael button, although I did get two snazzy Dominic ones), but while the process wasn’t ideal, I think the fact we’re now able to unite behind Michael Ignatieff as our (interim for now) Liberal leader is actually a blessing, and it’s an opportunity for the Liberal Party – if we seize it.

And it’s really an opportunity we have Stephen Harper to thank for. He united the right, he united the left, and now he has united the Liberal Party all together behind Michael Ignatieff to stand-up forcefully to the Conservative bullying, and quite possibly send his government packing next month. So thanks for that Steve. You rock, man.

A sincere thank-you though to Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae. I’ve already spoken of my respect and admiration for Dominic. And Bob really impressed me, and I think a lot of Liberals, with his selfless acts of yesterday. The odds may have been long for him but you never give up hope – look at Stephane’s improbable win in 2006 – so for him to put aside his own ambitions, and probably his last chance at the leadership, for the greater good of the party and the country was a truly noble act that I think gained him a lot of respect within the Liberal Party, including with some that maybe weren’t so sure about Bob.

I have some policy disagreements with Bob, but I got to see him a few times during the election campaign when he came out to B.C. to stump for our candidates and do a few Team BC press conferences. Getting a chance to watch him work a room or the media, I have to say he’s the most skilled and natural politician I’ve ever met. The man can campaign like no-one’s business. I think he and Michael will complement one another spectacularly, and I’m really impressed with the strength of our front-bench. Particularly compared to the lack of depth across the way.

While I’d have liked a full race, there’s actually a number of positives to this scenario. If it continued, this thing could have started to get really nasty; now the wounds will be easier to heal. Not that much money has been spent yet, so debt should be very minimal and we can now focus on party fundraising. We have a leader for the long-term ready to challenge, and potentially replace, Stephen Harper.

And we can now put the focus on the more important issue facing the Liberal Party: party reform and renewal. I’ve said all along that leadership wasn’t the main problem with our party. Was Stephane a factor in the last result? Undeniably. But the problems go much deeper, and they predate Stephane, Paul and Jean. I’ve written at length already about the reforms I would like to see, and I’ll continue to push them in the months ahead.

As Jason writes today, there is now a real and meaningful opportunity to use the Vancouver convention to deliver real and substantial party reform. And as a positive, I suspect it will be a little easier now to secure a delegate spot. So, if you want constitutional reform, if you want (weighted) one-member, one vote, then it’s not enough to just moan about the need for change. Push for it. Advocate it. Get specific: what change, how and why? And, most importantly, run to be a delegate and then come to convention in Vancouver so we can VOTE for it, and really make it happen.

We have a lot of work to do, but now we’re all able to come together and get down to the challenge. And we’re able to train our guns where they really belong: Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

And don’t kid yourself if you don’t think they’re concerned. Look at Tim Powers, already furiously trying to raise expectations (and rather transparently and ineptly, at that). They were counting on us staying divided and fighting amongst ourselves for many more months. No longer. Let’s show them what a united Liberal Party is made of. As Michael said a little while ago: no more sitting on our hands.

We’re coming for you, Steve.

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WesternGrit said...

Hey Jeff, I'll trade you an Iggy pin for a "Dominator"... Not kidding. I have a box full of "Iggy-mobilia".

I am not, however, parting with the flashing Ignatieff pin, or the Worhol-esque t-shirts...

Prairie Kid said...

What had Liberal get their knickers in a knot was that Steven Harper wasn't reaching out to the other parties. No conciliation it was said.

Have you heard the crap coming out of Ignatieff's mouth? It sounds as if he doesn't want anything to do with Harper and has already made up his mind about the budget.

What a way to reach out to the opposition.

sjw said...

I am anxiously awaiting your Ignatieff news conference vid! I unfortunately didn't get to see it this afternoon.

Mike said...

Ignatieff did well today definitely.

The only thing I don't like is he, and we, keep saying "Stephen Harper has lost the confidence of the House", well since when do you get to keep governing after you've lost the confidence of the House?

If we mean what we say why does he get a choice to continue to govern after he's lost the confidence?

I realize public perceptions in all would not be great if we took the NDP position and said "let's not even look at the budget", but if Harper's lost the confidence of the House why should he get another chance?

It just seems a bit contradictory is all.

My preference is just to see Harper brought down and replaced, but obviously we need to get the public on side with that view.

Gauntlet said...


That's an interesting point. I hadn't thought of it that way. I think most people take it to mean that the confidence has been lost, but might be regained before there was an actual vote.


Minor quibble. There's a difference between Stephane Dion hoping against hope when there are seven (eight?) candidates and he's in fourth place and the third-place candidate likes him, and Bob Rae hoping against hope when there are two candidates and he's in last position.

Not to take anything away from Rae. He did the right thing, and it was a classy move. But he said it himself in his withdrawal speech. "I can count."

wilson said...

Iggy reaches out to Western Canada

"frankly...forgive and forget"

Wow, just get over it Western Canada!
That's gonna work.

Pearce Richards said...

Jeff, I know the frustration you feel at the spin happening about Ignatieff... Check out my blog for an interesting trivia game.

Can you tell the difference between Republican quotes about Obama and Conservative quotes about Ignatieff?

ottlib said...

For all intents and purposes the Liberals have been mired in a leadership race since the last election so it is about time they have finally resolved it. At least Liberals better hope it has been resolved.

I guess we will see over the next little while.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I just have two single Doms. Don't worry, he'll be back. I do have a Michael pin from 06, but it doesn't flash.

pk, i see you're operating from the wrong set of CPC talking points. The negative stuff right now is just for internal CPC fundraising. The public line for you guys right now is that you welcome Ignatieff's openness to work with the government, because you're hoping if you stay nice stuff about him it will push the NDP out of coalition. Get on message!

sjw, alas for some reason I got every hour of newsworld recorded today except 3-4. Very annoying. He's done some media today though that will be up soon.

Mike, perhaps he doesn't mean confidence in the technical vote type-way, but confidence we don't trust you anymore. Maybe he can earn our confidence back. I don't have much confidence in that though...

jason, yes it's a longer shot, but miracles happen, or atleast, when you're a candidate, sometimes you need to believe they can.

ah wilson, yes, that's exactly what he said.

Jennifer Smith said...

That is officially my Favourite Blog Headline of the Day.

I'm no big fan of Iggy's, but I must admit I am getting a certain sense of satisfaction watching the little wet spot appear on the front of Steve's pants.