Monday, January 26, 2009

Critiquing the new Liberal critic line-up

Busyness with other pursuits, as well as the day job, has slowed my blogging of late but with the Parliamentary circus now back under the big top I do want to try to do a little catching-up, beginning with the new Liberal critic lineup, Michael Ignatieff edition that was unveiled last week.

On the positive side, good to see Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc in the roles they wanted; clearly the silly rumours that the two leadership rivals would be sidelined were merely a figment of someone’s overactive imagination. Looking at the other choices, John McCallum is the most knowledgeable choice for finance, if not overly charismatic. Marc Garneau is interesting in Industry, Science & Technology and I like David McGuinty on the environmental file.

I also liked the idea of a leaner, meaner line-up. I wasn’t a fan of Stephane Dion’s give a job to everyone in caucus approach, although I fully understand the motivation and necessity behind it. But while a leaner line-up by necessity means leaving some people out, I do question both some of the people left out, and some of those left in.

Starting with the latter, Joe Volpe? Really? With all the talent, veteran and fresh, in the GTA he gets a spot? Why not Bonnie Crombie, Rob Oliphant or Navdeep Bains?

And like a bad penny, Denis Coderre is back as defence critic. I’m not at all happy about that, for reasons articulated previously. If Michael feels the need to reward loyalty, fine, I can respect that. But Coderre has been an embarrassment in defence; give him any other portfolio. Perhaps this was his price for deigning to serve his party as Quebec lieutenant.

Then there are those who have been left out, such as Ujjal Dosanjh, Irwin Cottler, Justin Trudeau and, most glaringly, Stephane Dion. All I can say is I sincerely hope their exclusion was by their choice, and that they were offered positions. Because all of them should have been in there. Perhaps they don’t plan to run again, as has been speculated, with the exception, of course of Trudeau, who perhaps wants to begin his career with a little less profile. I’d still have pushed Dosanjh, Cottler and Dion to serve, however.

And looking at BC, if I was picking two MPs from the province for critic spots, one of them would have gone to Joyce Murray.

So, mixed thoughts, but we’ll get a chance starting tomorrow to see how the new line-up performs. How long we’ll get to watch them, well, that remains to be seen.

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Steve V said...


As I understand it, Dion's omission was his own choice, just to clarify.

Volpe is a head scratcher, and Coderre is a weak choice for sure. Other than that, a pretty strong team.

Jeff said...

Steve, I'm sure it would have had to have been Stephane's choice, if onyl because a) Michael ain't dumb, and b) if he had been snubbed, we'd have heard about it by now. Still, I'd have pushed hard for Stephane to reconsider. Hopefully Michael did push, and not just in a pro forma way.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to know why you feel that Trudeau should have been given a portfolio.

Jeff said...

I think he has a contribution to made and is a future leader (small l, not necessarily big L) of this party. I think the fact he's in demand by the party to both fundraise and campaign means we feel he has a contribution to make. There are other rookies on the list. I can understand if he wants to begin his parliamentary career with a lower profile, given the unique expectations he faces -- and that's not a bad strategy for him. But I wouldn't have time for someone making the lightweight argument, that he doesn't have a contribution to make on policy, when every riding wants him for events.

The Rat said...

Maybe you could read it as a shift to the right. Ujjal and Murray, as well as the whacky Hedy "crosses burning" Fry were all well on the left side of the spectrum. As is Trudeau. I know Coderre doesn't fit but he's from Quebec and has experience. It might even explain Volpe.

RuralSandi said...

Rat - you don't get to make a choice here - you are a CPC troll. Your opinion doesn't count in the least.

Ever thought that perhaps the demonizing of Dion by Harper and the constant pressure about it has made Dion want to lie low for a while? Give the guy a break.

Trudeau needs to get experience and be his own man - otherwise he'll never, ever shake the views of people saying he got there and got positions because of his dad - give the guy time. Like he did by going through the whole nomination and election on his own merits.

I understand that with Coderre's appointment - he's had a warning.

I may be wrong - but if memory serves me - wasn't Volpe cleared of all those accusations? Interesting, Volpe was certainly not a friend of Iggys'....hmmm...

Jeff said...

Rat, I'm not sure how far on the left I'd peg Murray, she was a BC Liberal cabinet minister don't forget, and they're not exactly a socialist collective. Nor would I consider Sukh Daliwhal necessarily right-wing. And Volpe, I really don't know who he is. I think, unsurprisingly, if the critic lineup is about a shift anywhere its about a shift towards supporters of Michael. Which is to be expected.

Sandi, my issues with Volpe revolve more around personality and style, to put it delicately.

Barcs said...

You can call me a troll too sandi, but I think Rat has a point about the swing Iggy brought to the party as opposed to Dion.

In fact you probably will call me a troll too (despite us both posting actual opinions and evidence not one line hate messages). But that is prolly ok. Because you are the tolerant one who isn't a name-calling mean rightwinger... right?

As for Dion, I haven't seen too many leaders resign the leadership of the party and then elect to join cabinet as a critic/minister. Prime ministers least of all. But I can't think of a leader that has done it. Something about stepping aside to let others have a go actually means stepping right out so as not to create a struggle within loyalties to the new and old leaders.

I don't mind Coderre so much, and he does have some experience to bring to the job.

Garneau, good, Findlay good, Brison good, LeBlanc good, McTeague good. Kennedy I am glad to see there.

I dunno about volpe... and I can't seem to remember in the leadership race who he supported when he dropped out... was it Iggy or Dion?

Like you I wish Murray would have gotten something. another glaring omission might be Wayne Easter. I thought Dryden might get a position, and I am quite surprised that Oliphant didn't.

And most importantly: no Dosanjh, no Goodale, no Fry,...... Now if we can only get you to dump McCallum (and Ruby Dhalla) I can sleep easy at night. ( I know McCallum has hte credentials, he just grates on my nerves everytime I hear him talk he sounds like...ugghhh)

Jeff said...


Goodale is House Leader, a key job in a minority parliament. Wayne Easter is agriculture critic. And Ken Dryden is heading some taskforce or committee or something I think...ahh, here it is: National Outreach Advisor, Working Families & Poverty Special Liason, National Fundraising. Now that's a mouthful.

I haven't seen too many leaders resign the leadership of the party and then elect to join cabinet as a critic/minister. Prime ministers least of all. But I can't think of a leader that has done it.

No need to go too far back in history: Stockwell Day.

Barcs said...

Whoops.. musta missed the ag critic.. thanks :)

Good to know Dryden is in a working position too, and one that he is committed to... Even tho it does need some sort of acronym to make it shorter than a novel :)

And Goodale... still can't find the name in the release you linked to...eyes must be going. So I'll have to take your word for it..... Ruin my whole day :(

Barcs said...

Looked up Stockwell Day too. You are right he was given a critic post by Harper as a concession for Harper's win.

I guess I must be getting old if I can't remember events only a few years ago :(

And I must offer you a tsk tsk for suggesting that Dion should follow in the footsteps of a Canadian alliance leader. :p

Jeff said...

Goodale wasn't in the linked release, it was announced a day earlier:

January 21, 2009
Liberal Leader announces parliamentary appointments

OTTAWA — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff today announced the re-appointments of the House and Senate leadership and whip positions for the upcoming session of Parliament.

The Honourable Ralph Goodale will continue to be House Leader for the Official Opposition and the Honourable Marlene Jennings will remain Deputy House Leader.

Liberal MP for Cape Breton-Canso Rodger Cuzner will also stay on as the Liberal Whip in the House of Commons and Liberal MP for Hull-Aylmer Marcel Proulx will be Deputy Whip.

Senator Jim Cowan will stay as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate. Senator Claudette Tardif will continue her role as Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, and Senator Jim Munson will remain as Senate Whip.