Tuesday, June 16, 2009

(Video) More media from Michael, and outside the Ottawa bubble

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:

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Anonymous said...

Good observations. That was my impression as well, and I've observed it before with US politicians.

The media that covers national news, regardless of persuasion, like to claim they are different than the politicos they cover. But they clearly like the drama, and they really just don't get subtlety. They want the bluster, and anything less to them appears soft.

I was fortunate to see Ignatieff appearances yesterday prior to reading anything or hearing anything about it. I was also fortunate to hear my politically interested (but not obsesses) neighbor comment on it . . . he found Ignatieff reasonable and clear.

Then I read the "reviews," which were oh so disappointed.

Walks With Coffee said...

Good post, when back in BC for the election (whenever), look me up in Victoria.

Cheers, Eugene Parks

wilson said...

Flash back to January 2009,
Harper is basically bent over for the coalition,
yet no demand for an amendment on EI reform,
even tho EVERY opp party/Liblogs are screaming for it.
Let's assume your guy asked, and Harper said no,
(but still got his budget passed).

Flash forward June 2009,
why demand EI reform now,
at a time when there is no chance of getting it?
That time was January 2009.

Either your guy walks down that hill, or he plays chicken with the Bloc & Dippers in a bid to go into an election.
Harper won't be blamed, he has said publicly for 6 months, including yesterday, NO to EI 360.

Jeff said...

Let's assume your guy asked, and Harper said no,
(but still got his budget passed)

Why should/would I want to assume that?

Look, either Harper gives him something good and he takes it and votes confidence, he gives him something crap and he takes it and votes confidence or rejects it and votes non-confidence, or he gives nothing and he votes non-confidence or he turtles.

I have no idea which way it will go, but I have seen nothing yet to support your backdown hypothesis. It may end up accurate, it may not. We don't know yet.

Why demand EI reform now, and not in January? I'm speculating, but here's a few possibilities. Maybe in Jan they didn't want to be tied too closely to the budget because Harper could have said yes, they wanted to let the Cons sink or swim on their own. Why ask now? Maybe they feel confident he won't say yes now, so its cover for an election call. Maybe they feel the need for reform is more pressing now given the economy, so going out on that limb is worth the risk it wasn't in January.Maybe some combination of all of the above.

ridenrain said...

Iggy's requests are too small and weak to be effective considering he already put them on probation. More than ever, Canadians are rejecting another election and without a smoking gun to wave to the angry population, he's just going to look like he's getting in the way of recovery.

Jon Pertwee said...

huh? "without a smoking gun to wave to the angry population" Do you want Harper to run around waving a smoking gun? Who did he shoot?

Such illusions.