Michael Ignatieff

10 Years of Blogging

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 8 Comments
Happy Trails

Happy Trails

Back when I first sat down to rant about politics on May 15th 2004, I never expected I’d still be doing this over 3,000 posts later. The blog has outlasted 3 Liberal leaders, been through 4 federal elections, and documented my involvement on a handful of losing leadership campaigns. During that time, Bart Ramson turned into Dan Arnold, I moved to Edmonton, finished school, and became a “Toronto Grit”. Shortly thereafter, Naheed Nenshi became mayor of Calgary and Rob Ford became mayor of Toronto. Go figure.

Nenshi and Ford have provided me with bountiful amounts of blogging material, but they have not been alone. There was the Michael Ignatieff experiment, on which so much virtual ink was spilled. There was the coalition crisis, which gripped the nation. There was the rise of the Wildrose Party, which led to the rarest of things – an exciting Alberta election. There was the orange wave. And, through it all, there was still time to poke fun at Politicians in Cowboy hatsand leather vests.

Another source for much blog content has been Justin Trudeau, but he is also the reason content has been, and will continue to be, scarce here. I’ve recently started working for the Liberal Party which, needless to say, limits what I’m able to write about. And really, what’s the point of blogging if I don’t have Rob Anders to kick around anymore.

You may still find the occasional retrospective or Pierre Poilievre rant, but this site will be taking a breather from deeper political analysis, at least until after the next election.

So a big thank you to everyone for reading over the years. I’ve always been in awe of the high caliber of discussion in the comments section of this site, and have appreciated the e-mails. As vain as it is to count clicks, the fact that I knew people were reading certainly motivated me to keep at it for a decade. So, to everyone, thank you.

I leave you with a list of 10 of my favourite posts from over the years. These aren’t necessarily the most viewed or the best posts – just 10 that I had a lot of fun writing.

1. Follow the Leader: I only include this post as a humbling reminder about how unpredictable politics can be, and how wrong I’ve been on many occasions. Just one year before Paul Martin’s resignation I provided odds on 13 possible Liberal leadership contenders without listing Stephane Dion, Bob Rae, or Gerard Kennedy. I do mention Michael Ignatieff, but only in what may have been the most awesomely off-the-mark sentence in the history of this blog – and I quote – “This week, we saw Peter C. Newman toot Michael Ignatieff’s name which is interesting because that’s about as serious a suggestion as Justin Trudeau”. Heh.

2. Greatest Prime Minister: In a March Madness style contest, blog readers voted for Wilfrid Laurier as Canada’s Greatest Prime Minister. This begat a series of other contests including “Best Premier”, “Best Prime Minister We Never Had”, “Biggest Election”, and, coming this summer, “Best Minister of Natural Resources”.

3. The Race for Stornoway: 2006 was really the heyday for political blogging. From the “Draft Paul Hellyer” movement, to candidate interviews, to the blogging room at the convention itself, blogging was as close to “cool” as it would ever be.

4. A Beginner’s Guide to Alberta Politics: For some reason, I seemed to blog a lot more about Alberta politics after I left Alberta.

5. Christmas LettersElizabeth May, Jack Layton, Michael Ignatieff, Stephen Harper. People, myself included, take politics way too seriously sometimes. So it’s good to have some fun with it.

PS. Ed Broadbent.

6. Leadership Power Rankings (here, here, and here). The wonderful thing about politics is how unpredictable, complicated, and human it is. That’s why I love the challenge of trying to quantify it.

7. Moments of Decade: Hopefully I’m blogging again by 2020, because this is an exercise I’d dearly love to repeat. Readers nominated and voted on the top political moments of the decade, with the Alliance-PC merger topping the list. It wasn’t as exciting as the coalition crisis or the Belinda Stronach Chuck Cadman confidence vote insanity, but it set the stage for the rise of Stephen Harper.

8. On October 6th vote for proper scaling of the Y-Axis. Vote Liberal. Tim Hudak math burn!

9. What’s the Matter with Calgary? Having lived in both Calgary and Toronto, I’ve always been absolutely fascinated by the Nenshi-Ford dichotomy. Elected a week apart, these men are opposites with so much in common, who both shattered their cities’ stereotypes. When I first moved to Toronto, a lot of lefties would shake their head and “tsk tsk” when I said I was from Calgary. Not any more.

10. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Census (But Were Afraid to Ask): I’ve never been of the opinion that Stephen Harper is a monster who has destroyed Canada beyond recognition. Even on issues where we disagree – the gun registry, climate change, Quebec as a nation – I understand where he’s coming from. However, of everything Harper has done, his decision to scrap the long form census remains the thing that boils my blood. Here was the party who sends Happy Hanukkah cards to swing voters calling the census too “intrusive”. It wasn’t an assault on the welfare state or big government, it was an assault on reason. It showed that Harper offered nothing more than government by truthiness.

And that, is why I’ll be taking a break from blogging for the next bit to help defeat him.

Bart’s Books: The Michael Ignatieff Experiment

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Book Reviews | 3 Comments


“I had made myself into a politician, and I didn’t much like what I was becoming.”

On my Christmas reading list this year was Michael Ignatieff’s latest book, Fire and Ashes, which takes the reader from the moment “the men in black” recruited him to come back to Canada, to his historic defeat on May 2, 2011. So for Michael Ignatieff buffs curious about his adventures overseas or how often Bob Rae did the dishes when they were roommates, you’re out of luck. What the book does offer is a tidy summary of “the Michael Ignatieff experiment“, from the perspective of the test subject.

Because, after reading the book, you really get the sense that’s what Michael Ignatieff’s time in politics was – a large scale ill-fated experiment. Ignatieff admits he was taken aback when three politicos from Canada visited him at Harvard in 2004 and asked him if he’d like to be Prime Minister, calling it “an astonishing proposition”.

As Ignatieff grapples with the decision, we get the first bit of foreshadowing that there’s there’s going to be a lot more about failure than success in this book. While Ignatieff says he admired the way Trudeau (the elder) “knew exactly why he was going into politics and who he was doing it for”, not once does Ignatieff consider what he’d hope to accomplish as Prime Minister. Indeed, the first hint there are even issues Ignatieff cares about doesn’t come until page 64, when he discovers the challenges of life in rural Canada.

Once he decides he wants to be Prime Minister, Ignatieff goes at it full throttle, pushing aside doubts about his own abilities. When beginning his leadership bid in 2006, barely a few weeks into his political career, Ignatieff says he “felt like a trainee skier starting a descent at the top of a black diamond run”. While it’s refreshing to see a politician admit their worries and fears, it says a lot about Ignatieff that he felt he could teach himself how to ski on the way down the hill.

So the book is largely about him learning to slalom at 50 miles an hour. Early on, Michael discovers that quotes can be taken out of context. Then he learns that national unity is kind of a big deal, and that terms like “war crimes” shouldn’t be tossed around cavalierly. In the 2008 election, he learns that voters don’t like new taxes. A year later, he learns that minority governments lead to “permanent campaigns”. His entire political career comes across as a journey of self-discovery, largely explaining why the man never looked completely comfortable doing what he was doing.

It’s not exactly a bombshell revelation that Michael Ignatieff was in over his head, but what I found most interesting about the book was seeing how Ignatieff responded by essentially trying to become a generic cardboard cut-out politician. Consider this excerpt, where he talks about what he “learned” during the 2006 leadership race:

“I had to unlearn being clever, being rhetorical, being fluent, and start appreciating how much depends on making a connection, any connection, with the people listening to you.”

Though I’ve never been a fan, I’ve always felt Michael Ignatieff oozed of potential. He’s intelligent, thoughtful, and, when he’s not spewing out talking points he doesn’t believe in, quite likable. Even charming. However, rather than playing to his strengths as the anti-politician, he set out to turn himself into Bob Rae – without realizing it took Bob Rae god-given talents and a lifetime to hone them, before he become Bob Rae.

I don’t know if the Michael Ignatieff experiment was ever going to be successful, but it wasn’t going to work by turning Ignatieff into a conventional politician.

A copy of this book was provided by Random House for review.

Iggy Returns

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Book Reviews, Federal Politics | 16 Comments

le_timhortonsEverywhere you go these days, there’s Michael Ignatieff. I’ve even seen him walking around Yorkville twice within the past month.

For those who miss seeing Ignatieff’s face on every third commercial, you can read some juicy nuggets from his new book here, an excerpt on how he handled defeat here, and an interview with Aaron Wherry here. I’m not convinced he’ll outsell Harper’s hockey book, but the man can still generate buzz.

Even though Ignatieff is out of the game and has had two years for sober second thoughts, he still comes across as very much the same man he always was. A great writer. A thoughtful intellectual. Politically naive. Honest. Insightful and even brilliant at times. Stubborn at others.

And incredibly frustrating.

Reading through the last round of excerpts and transcripts, it’s clear that Ignatieff refuses to accept any of the blame for what went wrong, though he’s quick to criticize others. In his interview with Aaron Wherry, he says it’s “unbecoming and naive” to complain, then blames the Tory attacks for his undoing. In one breath he claims to take full responsibility for the party’s defeat, with the next he states “I’m not taking the wrap for the party I inherited. I’m just not.”. He says he could have beaten Stephen Harper, but when asked if there’s anything he would have done differently, his only response is that he should have won the leadership in 2006.

So in the end, all signs point to this memoir being vintage Ignatieff. Like Ignatieff’s political career, this book had the potential to be different from standard political memoirs thanks to the author’s unique background and perspective. And while the finished product shows us fleeting glimpses of that potential, it largely conforms into the trite finger pointing you’d expect from any defeated politician.

That was always Ignatieff’s problem. He ran as a regular politician, when he was anything but regular. And he did it against two very talented career politicians. Given that, it should be no surprise Ignatieff’s politicial career ended the way it did – even though he still seems perplexed by the whole experience.

Justin Trudeau: Too Sexy For His Shirt, Too Sexy For Canada?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Ads | 32 Comments

The only thing more predictable than Justin Trudeau’s win in the Liberal leadership race was that it would be followed by Conservative attack ads. For those curious what the sequel to “Not a Leader” and “Just Visiting” would look like, the wait is over:

It should come as no surprise that the ad is repugnant, immature, and, as Stephane Dion would say – “completely unfair”. The central quote about Quebecers being better than everyone else is literally from a different century, and in the full interview, a 20-something Justin appears to be paraphrasing his father’s philosophy on why Quebecers don’t need special status.

We’ve come to expect out of context quotes from the Conservatives, but what is surprising is this level of slopiness. The companion ad uses the “just a teacher” attack, which merely gives Trudeau an opening to springboard onto his “what does Mr. Harper have against teachers” soapbox which he used to great effect last weekend. Oh, and that fake striptease footage that dominates the commercials? That came from a Canadian Liver Foundation fundraiser, where Justin’s little turn on the catwalk raised $1,900 to fight liver disease. Oops.

It’s safe to say the reaction to these ads will be overwhelmingly negative. But I’d remind people there was a chorus of criticism about the Dion and Ignatieff ads – they distorted the truth, they were “too mean” for Canada, they were sure to backfire. Some polls even showed Not A Leader landing with a thud among those who saw it. But those ads worked – even if no one wanted to admit they worked.

So it would be foolish for the Liberal Party to dismiss this latest assault with a wave and a laugh, or to assume the whole country has been innoculated against them by Trudeaumania. I suspect the core message – that Trudeau isn’t mature enough to be Prime Minister – will resonate with many Canadians. As Tom Flanagan would say, “it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to be plausible” – and no matter how ugly the packaging is, the message inside these ads is definitely plausible.

At every Liberal Party event I’ve been to over the past two years, someone has gotten up and said “we can’t let ourselves be defined by Conservative attack ads again”. Of course, Liberals said the same thing after the 2008 election, then snickered at the Just Visiting ads, confident they would backfire, given that Michael Ignatieff was far more popular and a far better politician than Stephane Dion. I don’t care how charismatic Trudeau is, he needs to hit back, and he needs to hit back immediately.

That said, I think lowering himself to Harper’s level, with a series of negative attack ads of his own, would be nearly as damaging as not responding. The challenge isn’t for Trudeau to define Harper, it’s to define himself – and by joining Harper in the mud, he’d dull the shine on his message of hope and optimism.

Rather, the Liberals need to open up the “leader defense fund” and get something on the air as soon as possible, where Trudeau talks directly to Canadians and addresses the ads – but then pivots to the positive. Have Justin remind Canadians the reason he’s in politics is to move beyond the nastiness that Stephen Harper revels in. Use the ads as a platform to share his vision, and talk about the future he wants for his children.

The Tory ads are clumsy and mean spirited, but we’ve seen clumsy and mean spirited work before. If Trudeau punches back quickly with a positive message then maybe, just maybe, these ads will serve as the foil he needs to prove he practices the type of optimistic politics Canadians long for.

Rae’s Day

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Federal Politics | 1 Comment

LPC Convention 020

Every political commentator loves to say “timing is everything in politics”, and every Canadian political commentator loves to say that Bob Rae never had good timing. He had the misfortune of becoming Premier before he was ready to govern, and had the misfortune of governing during a recession. His “second career” is often portrayed as a string of disappointments. He fell short in ’06. Two years later, he was forced out of the leadership race by his old roommate after a series of bizarre events. When he thought about running for leader again, the Justin Trudeau phenomenon was standing in his way.

Rae echoed this sentiment in his farewell speech Saturday, ruefully admitting: “I always wanted to be leader of the Liberal Party in the worst way. And it looks like I got my wish.” But if recent history is any indication, it could have gone a lot worse.

Rae has been praised far and wide over the past two weeks, for his steady leadership during a turbulent period. Even the Sun has had nice things to say about him. Compare that to the treatment of his predecessors who are still punchlines on 22 Minutes and Twitter. At the Dion tribute in 2009, half the delegates walked out early to visit hospitality suites. Ignatieff’s tribute in 2012 was met with only polite applause, mostly out of a sense of pity.

Rae got to lead nearly as long as Dion or Ignatieff, and he will be remembered as the man who kept the Liberal Party relevant during its darkest hour. He can now transition to the role of respected elder statesman, and will always be welcome to stop by and play the piano at fundraisers. That may not have been the outcome he hoped for, but it sure beats being known as the guy who lost – or the guy who tore the party apart by running for leader after promising not to.

No doubt, Rae is confident the Liberals would have performed better under his leadership. That may be true, but anything less than victory would have been seen as a failure, and it seems unlikely he could have dethroned Harper in an election fought squarely over the economy.

When Rae did win, in 1990, he left reviled, with his name a dirty word. That alone should be evidence enough that, sometimes, you’re better off not winning. Now, two decades later, Rae exits the stage his reputation restored, primarily because he didn’t win.

In some respects, his timing was perfect.

Canada’s Greatest Losers

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, History | 7 Comments

Liberals elected this loser at their 1919 leadership convention

Last week, Martha Hall Findlay and Karen McCrimmon declared their candidacies for the Liberal leadership race. This week, George Takach has taken the plunge. I’ve posted one blog interview with David Merner, and will have others with David Bertschi and Alex Burton next week. Deborah Coyne, meanwhile, has already released more fresh ideas than we’ve seen from Stephen Harper during his entire tenure as Prime Minister.

These are seven very different candidates with seven very different messages, but the one thing they share in common is that none of them hold a seat in the House of Commons. This has prompted Warren Kinsella (and others) to gently suggest they do us all a favour and drop out, before they jump in. As the saying goes, if you can’t win your own riding, you can’t win the country.

Now, Warren is free to support whomever he chooses using whatever criteria he chooses. And as far as criteria go, electoral track record is a pretty important one to consider. I know I’d have a difficult time supporting anyone who has never held elected office. That said, it’s likely worth looking at a few “losers” from history, before we automatically disqualify every “loser” from consideration.

John Diefenbaker: This guy could put together losing campaigns more consistently than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before being elected, he lost twice federally, twice provincially, and once for Mayor. Despite being a five-time loser, the Tories went with Dief in ’56, and he rewarded them with the largest majority in Canadian history.

Mackenzie King: Even though he lost his seat in both the 1911 and 1917 elections, the Liberals put their faith in King at Canada’s first leadership convention in 1919. King would go on to become the longest serving PM in Commonwealth history…losing his own seat twice more along the way.

Jack Layton: Jack beat out three candidates with seats at the 2003 NDP leadership convention, even though he’d never been elected to any position higher than Councillor. He’d lost in his bid for Mayor, finished fourth in the 1993 federal election, and lost by over 7,000 votes in the 1997 federal election. Despite this track record of defeat, the Dippers went with Jack and he rewarded them by becoming the NDP’s most successful leader ever.

Brian Mulroney: Brian hadn’t even won a City Council election when he became PC leader, and had lost in his previous leadership bid. In his first ever election, he won over 200 seats.

Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, John Turner: Although they had perfect records in their own ridings, all three lost a leadership race before becoming Liberal leader. Losers.

Stephen Harper: Harper did not hold a seat when he ran for Canadian Alliance leadership in 2002. At that time, he had a rather uninspiring “1 win and 1 loss” record when it came to local elections – and remember, that’s a .500 record from a Calgary conservative.

Those are just a few of the many losers who won their party leaderships. Indeed, the only examples from the past 30 years of national parties electing “winners” who had never lost their riding or a leadership race are Stephane Dion, Audrey McLaughlin, Stockwell Day, and Peter MacKay. MacKay killed his party, and the other three almost did.

That’s not to say that all “winners” become “losers”, but you need to go all the way back to Justin Trudeau’s father in 1968 to find a successful leader who had a perfect electoral record when he first took over his party’s leadership. And while I don’t want to dismiss Pierre Trudeau’s accomplishments, I suspect most barnyard animals could have held Mount Royal for the Liberals in 1965.

The above examples come from federal politics, but we see it everywhere. Just eight years before becoming President, Barack Obama lost a primary race for a congressional seat by a 2:1 margin. Alison Redford couldn’t even beat Rob Anders in a nomination meeting.

So while I wouldn’t dismiss a candidate’s electoral record (or lack thereof), it’s important to remember that a lot of winners have quickly turned into losers, and a lot of losers have gone on to have very successful careers.

Election Post Mortem: The Liberals

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

In the 2004 election, the Liberal Party lost 37 seats. Liberals blamed this on Adscam, and they blamed it on Dalton McGuinty. This was considered a bad result, but the good news was voters had gotten it out of their system and, regardless, they’d never make Stephen Harper Prime Minister so there was a little to worry about. Consider it a speed bump on the road to 200 seats.

In the 2006 election, the Liberal Party lost 32 seats. Again, Adscam got much of the blame, as did the RCMP, the gaffe-plagued campaign and, depending on your faction, one of the previous two Liberal Prime Ministers. This was considered a bad result, but a new leader and a few months of Reform-Alliance government would lead voters right back into the arms of the Liberal Party.

In the 2008 election, the Liberal Party lost 36 seats. This time, it was really all Stephane Dion’s fault – him and that darn Green Shift! This was considered a bad result, but we’d all learned from the mistake in Montreal, so we’d just name Michael Ignatieff leader and take back government. The sooner the better – after all, leadership races can be messy and, as we’d seen, party members couldn’t be trusted with an important decision like picking a leader.

In the 2011 election, the Liberal Party lost 33 seats. The good news is that (I hope) everyone now recognizes there’s a problem here. A problem that runs deeper than leadership.

For this reason, I won’t bother dissecting the Liberal campaign in too much detail. After all, it actually wasn’t a bad campaign. The tour ran smoothly. There we no major gaffes or misspeaks. There were big crowds. The platform was fine. The ads were fine. Yeah, the debates were a bit of a disaster, and the leader couldn’t connect with voters, but do people honestly think there is anything the Liberals could have done differently? Sure, a different leader might have held on to second place or might have kept Harper to a minority, but if the end goal is forming government, it’s clear major changes are needed.

So what happens now?

The first thing Liberals need to do is put 2015 out of mind. That’s a long ways away and given the tectonic shifts we saw in the political landscape over the past four weeks, it’s foolish to predict with certainty what we’ll be up against in four years. Maybe Harper will be hugely unpopular after a decade in power. Maybe Maxime Bernier will be the Tory leader. Maybe Jack Layton’s Quebec caucus will be his undoing. Maybe a Mulcair-led NDP will be flying high in the polls (I’ll believe that when I see it). Maybe the Bloc will be back. Maybe the Greens will be polling in the high 20s.

There’s no way for us to know what the future holds, so the Liberals need to look inwards and get their own act together before worrying about who they’re running against.

In my mind, everything should be on the table, and party members should be the ones to decide after careful and thoughtful debate. I personally think merging with the NDP is a foolish idea, but some Liberals think it makes sense and they deserve to be heard. Let’s figure that out and then move on together.

I’m sure my idea of who the next leader should be is different from what a lot of other Liberals will want, so let’s vote on a leader and then move on together. Unless of course Frank McKenna is interested, in which case, we can just skip the vote. (I kid, I kid…)

Personally, I’d like to see the Liberals take a strong stand against the soft-nationalist policies of the Bloc NDP, but a lot of Liberals will disagree, wanting to win back Quebec. Let’s figure out where we stand and then move on together.

Some will want to move left. Some will want to move right. Some will say we should trash good policy in favour of populist trinkets. The debate needs to be had, and the membership needs to be involved in that debate.

Not just for show, but for real. Ever since I’ve been involved (and I’m sure before then), the party has let the membership talk and then ignored what they had to say. There’s a 14-step policy process, where policies suggested by individual Liberals can climb all the way to the floor at a national convention where, if enough Liberals support them, they may one day be filed away in a binder in the PMO OLO LO.

The Party set up a Change Commission and a Renewal Committee a few years ago. Both did a lot of good work. Both produced reports. The hell if I know what happened after that.

Now, I have a lot of ideas. Most are probably stupid. I’m not going to rehash them all now, because I’d basically be retyping the blog post I wrote after the last election. Or the election before that. Sadly, little has changed in 5 years.

What I will say now, is that the party needs to figure out answers to the following six questions:

1. What do we stand for?

2. Why should Canadians vote Liberal? (this answer cannot contain the words “NDP” or “Conservative Party” in it)

3. How do we communicate the above to voters?

4. Who exactly should we be convincing to vote for us? (I’d call this “who makes up the Liberal coalition”, if not for the obvious attack ad it would lead to)

5. How do we engage our membership?

6. How do we raise enough money to live in the post-subsidy world?

The good news is we have two years to answer these questions, then another two years to put it into practice.

I have a lot to say about this and, judging from the e-mails, blog posts, and Facebook notes I’ve seen flying in the past 48 hours, a lot of Liberals do too.

So here’s what I’m willing to do. Send me your ideas of what you think the Liberal Party needs to do moving forward, and I’ll post them here. Even if I think something’s a dumb idea, I’ll post it, because I’m not the arbiter of what’s a good idea and what’s a bad idea.

There’s definitely a lot of work to do. We need to recognize there’s a chance the Liberal Party may very well fade away into oblivion. There’s also a chance we could be in power within an election or two. As we’ve all learned over the past month, politics is unpredictable and making bold predictions with certainty is a good way to look awfully silly.

The next four years may very well be the most important in the history of the Liberal Party, so let’s get to work.

Je m’excuse

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If there’s one thing these election results have shown, it’s that we all owe Stephane Dion a big apology. For the past 3 years, he has been the punchline of every political joke. He has been ridiculed, and treated as if he were the biggest failure in the history of Canadian politics.

And yet, as yesterday showed, the problems with the Liberal Party certainly ran deeper than Dion.

Right about now, 77 seats sure ain’t looking that bad.

A moment of silence for our fallen comrades

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

The hardest part of last night for me was watching so many quality MPs go down in defeat. All too often, the individual casualties of a blood bath like this are overlooked, and aren’t given a proper farewell. So let me take a minute to thank a few of my favourites for making a difference.

Gone is Gerard Kennedy, who I had the honour of supporting for leader five years ago. One of the reasons I backed Gerard was because he was one of the few people back then who recognized the need to renew and rebuild the Liberal Party. We all recognize that now, and I can only hope Gerard will be a part of that rebuilding, even if it’s not as an MP.

Gone is Ken Dryden, arguably the heart of the Liberal Party. Dryden is one of the most thoughtful politicians you’ll ever meet and he believed in politics for a purpose, not just politics for the sake of politics. Dryden’s vision of Canada will be missed at a time when the Liberal Party tries to come to grips with what it truly believes in.

Gone is Siobhan Coady, a rookie MP who appeared to have a bright future ahead of her. She is exactly the kind of accomplished woman we need more of in politics, and she was one of the few MPs who could ask a tough question with emotion, while still avoiding hyperbole.

Gone is Glen Pearson, one of the few MPs able to rise above the hyper partisanship that infects most who go to Ottawa. Pearson talks in sentences, not sound bytes. He was one of the few who genuinely wanted to make Parliament work, unlike the many who only talk about making Parliament work.

Gone is Ujjal Dosanjh, a quality MP. Gone is Mark Holland, a fierce fighter. Gone is Navdeep Bains, a great MP and a great person. Gone is Martha Hall Findlay, the spunky underdog of the 2006 leadership race.

There are others who I’ve forgotten or just didn’t know as well, but who are equally deserving of praise. I thank them all for their service to the Liberal Party and to their country.

Then there are those who never got a chance to go to Ottawa. Strong candidates, like Christine Innes, who I spent much of this election trying to keep up with as she sprinted door to door to meet voters. And let’s not forget all those who put their names forward to run, knowing it would take a miracle for them to win. Having volunteered on a lot of campaigns like that over the years, I fully appreciate the kind of commitment and idealism that takes.

Finally, there is the one MP who lost a lot more than his seat last night. Long time readers will know I’ve always had doubts about Michael Ignatieff’s ability to lead the Liberal Party, and I took issue with the way he commandeered the leadership of the party.

Still, I’ve warmed to the man greatly over the past year, and I always did like the concept of Michael Ignatieff. If I was writing a Canadian political drama a la West Wing, I’d probably create a protagonist a lot like Michael. He is, after all, exactly what voters say they’re looking for in a leader. He’s intelligent. He has seen the world. He’s not a career politician. It’s hard not to fall in love with the concept of Michael Ignatieff.

Yesterday, we found out just how easy it is to not fall in love with the reality of Michael Ignatieff. In the real world, politics is a job like any other, and we shouldn’t be surprised when the guys who have been doing it their whole lives prove to be better at it than the guy who picked it up in his late 50s. Michael Ignatieff simply was not able to connect with voters the same way Jack Layton could connect with voters.

I’ll write up a proper post-mortem on what went wrong for Michael Ignatieff the party leader in the coming days but for now, a moment of silence for Michael Ignatieff the MP, who didn’t deserve to lose his seat. We need accomplished individuals like him in politics, regardless of the party they run for.

A lot of good people lost their jobs last night, Michael Ignatieff among them.

Everyone’s talking about Tout Le Monde En Parle

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

With 1.5 million Quebecers watching, Michael Ignatieff put in quite the performance on Tout Le Monde En Parle yesterday. He laughed, he was relaxed, he was confident. He talked about Liberal policies, he answered tough questions. It was a tour de force. The media reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

You can watch it online here (clip 2).

I do wonder what the Quebec polls would be looking like if we’d seen that Michael Ignatieff in the debates.

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