In Canadian politics, there’s inside the Queensway (not Kady’s blog) and there’s the rest of Canada. Inside Ottawa, the reviews of Michael Ignatieff’s performance yesterday are mixed. But it’s not inside Ottawa that matters, it’s the rest of Canada. And that’s who the Liberals are speaking to.
Inside Ottawa, the media pundits in particular like tough-talking politicians. They want bluster and threats. Give in, or else! My way or the highway! Election, rawwrrrrr! They like confrontation. It makes for fun (and easy to produce) stories. Much easier than writing on issues.
The Liberals, though, decided to go another way yesterday, because what plays inside the Queensway isn’t what plays in the rest of Canada, where most Canadians live. Canadians want our parliamentarians to at least take a shot at making this parliament work, and that's what we've been doing since the budget.
So, the Liberals said these are our four concerns. We need answers in these areas. If we like the answers, we can consider not voting the government down. But you need to work with us. We’re not going to draw lines in the sand. We want to hear your proposals first, and we’ll see if we can come to common ground.
The Conservative response has been a bit scattered. It ranges from “no way, Jose” to “we don’t know what he wants” to “we’ve already told him all that.” I think Harper hit on all three in his presser, along with designated spokesthingy Tony Clement. It was rather amusing, really.
We’re staying reasonable, though. Harper knows what we’ve asked for, and he knows Friday is the deadline. If he comes with workable proposals on, say, EI, we’re open to extending that timetable by having Parliament sit longer so reforms can be passed now, not this fall. Ignatieff and Harper are going to meet today, and we’re staying cautiously optimistic.
Now, the politico in me would have loved to see Ignatieff engage in some of that tough talk. Throw down the gauntlet. Myself, I’m ready for an election. Bring it on.
But I can give this approach a chance, because I believe it’s a balancing of my desire to see us standing-up with the desire of Canadians for cooperation. We’ve made reasonable requests, and as long as we’re prepared to pull the plug if they’re not met, we can do so with a clean conscious, having made an honest effort to make this parliament work.
I thought Roy MacGregor, a voice from outside the Ottawa bubble, had it well:
And yet Michael Ignatieff came across pretty well for once.
Perhaps not satisfactory to those wet-your-pants Ottawa media who need their daily cup of crises, but good enough for those of us who would reach for pitchforks if they called an election at a time like this.
Here’s Michael interviewed by Peter Mansbridge last night on CBC’s The National:
And here he is this morning on CBC Newsworld:
Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers