Michael Ignatieff

Why Stephen Harper should be afraid of Jack Layton

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

No, not because of the latest poll that has people somewhat prematurely speculating about Layton as Prime Minister.

Rather, Harper should be worried, because it turns out Jack is a better piano player than him. Now all we need is for Iggy to beat him in a hockey trivia contest, and the man’s spirit will be absolutely crushed beyond repair.

Before They Were Stars

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

From vintage voter, comes pictures of our current leaders in their youth. Their hair and glasses were all bigger, though some things never change – even a young Steve Harper had issues with “reality”.






So What?

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

Michael Ignatieff’s “rise up” speech, which has been generating a fair amount of online buzz this weekend.

Ten dollars says Ignatieff shouting “rise up” will be coming soon to a Tory attack, after a narrator asks “what does Ignatieff say about raising taxes?”.

The Humanization of Michael Ignatieff

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

Last election, the Tory strategy was to show the softer side of Steve – Harper was Mr. Sweater Vest at campaign rallies and on TV.

This time, the tactic has changed – everywhere you go, Harper is in a suit. The man was even wearing dress pants for his pick-up game of street hockey. After all, these are serious times and nothing risks the economic recovery more than indulging in casual wear.

On the flip side, the Liberals have gone all out to humanize Michael Ignatieff. See Mike eat a hot dog. See Mike wear a tool belt. Tonight, the media are invited to watch Mike watching American Idol.

Ad Watch: Ignatieff Gets Personal

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

A series of new Liberal ads have hit the airwaves.

In the first, Ignatieff talks a bit about his past, and ties it in to the Liberals’ just launched pension policy:

Then, Ignatieff responds to the Tory attack ads…just 2 short years after they first aired:

Finally, my favourite of the three, and the one I’ll ask you to grade. Of everything we’ve seen from the Liberal platform so far, Family Care is my favourite plank. It’s easy to understand and it connects to voters at the personal level – after all, who doesn’t have an aging or sick relative?

And, like the policy, this ad connects at the personal level, with Ignatieff talking about his mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s. For a guy who has been portrayed as an alien in Tory attack ads, this will do a lot to humanize him. It shows the Liberals value family and it shows Ignatieff values family.



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And if you didn’t get a chance to grade the latest round of NDP commercials, just click here.

Fifth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

For a brief history of Stampede fashion, you can read the 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 round-ups.

You never quite now what you’ll get at the Stampede. The boy from Calgary became a national laughing stock when he mistook the Stampede for a Village People convention in 2005. And the geeky Liberal pushing the carbon tax was named “best dressed” by both this blog and CP in 2008.

Of course, 6 months later Dion had been pushed out as Liberal leader, and 6 months after leathervestgate, Harper was Prime Minister. So it’s best not to read too much into this (unlike, say, a broken down bus which we all KNOW is directly linked to electoral fortunes).

Federal Politicians

Once again, we have a surprise winner this year in the “best dressed” category. Why, it’s none other than Mr. Ivory Tower Michael Ignatieff. The urban legend in Calgary is that no one had ever been able to find a cowboy hat big enough to fit Ignatieff’s head, but for the first time in five years he has moseyed into town in full gear, hat included, and he doesn’t look the least bit out of place.

Wait, I thought he said he liked the smell of barns! Flip flop!

Layton and Harper have been to enough stampedes that we know what to expect from them. Layton always winds up looking surprisingly at ease for a mustached Toronto socialist. And Harper? Well, since leather vest gate, he always plays it safe and gets a C+/B- grade. The man never looks comfortable, but at least he doesn’t embarrass himself.

You know, despite all the talk of Harper playing chess, I’ve always thought his tactics were more of the “detonator” variety. Kelowna Accord? KABOOM! Census? KABOOM! Promises not to appoint senators? KABOOM!

But if Harper and Layton have become too predictable, let’s all raise a glass of sillabub to toast Elizabeth May. Worst dressed in 2008. Best dressed in 2009. And this year? I’ll reserve judgement until I can find a picture of her before she tumbled into the tie dye trough.


And, in the interests of by partisanship, a special shout out to stampede superstar Jim Prentice – yeah, he’s got a bad record as environment minister, but he rides a horse in the parade every year and looks like he could handle himself in the rodeo.

Prentice has a wide range out outfits and he makes them all work. And the ladies can’t get enough of Jim’s talk of voluntary 40 year emission reduction targets.

Provincial Politicians

Ed Stelmach disappoints every year at the Stampede. In 2007, he had us all smacking our heads on the ground when he called it “the Alberta Stampede“. The last two years, he has celebrated the Alberta Stampede by wearing a suit jacket over top of his cowboy duds. A major no-no.

And this year, it’s more of the same. On the weekend, he went with a rather unflattering vest that Ed’s mom appears to have sewn his name into, and on Tuesday he dusted off the suit for the third straight year.


But despite my criticism of Stelmach, I’m going to give his Finance Minister the title of “Worst Dressed” this year. I’m hesitant to do this based on a profile picture, but I can’t imagine anything going on below the shoulders that could salvage this outfit.

Once again, Ted is just trying to hard. When he ran for leadership, he drafted a catchy little country music jingle. He holds “golf and gun” fundraisers. But, really, he’s just a university professor from the big city trying to pass himself off as a good ‘ol country boy. And, in this case, it shows.

Which brings us to David Swann who is an academic from the big city and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. In fact, he rode his bicycle in the Stampede parade this year.

But you know what? Even though Swann looks completely out of place every year, he puts on the hat, the boots, and the belt buckle. He hosts one of the largest stampede breakfasts in Calgary. And he always looks like he’s having a great time. That’s something Albertans can respect.

Municipal Politicians

This is Dave Bronconnier’s last stampede as mayor and I’ll give the man props, he has always dressed, looked, and acted just like the Mayor of Calgary should during stampede. Hell, the man even rides a horse for crying out loud.

Christmas Letters: Michael Ignatief

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour | Leave a comment

Yesterday I posted an exclusive copy of Stephen Harper’s Christmas letter. Today, a draft of Michael Ignatieff’s, obtained from my OLO contacts. I publish it here so that those of you not on Michael’s Christmas card list can get a look.


Salutations my Canadian friends,

Isaiah Berlin once proclaimed “philosophers are adults who persist in asking childish questions” – over the past year, I have found that the same could be said about politicians in question period. There, now that I have successfully lightened the mood with a joke, allow me to recap 2009 as is custom to do in these letters.

In May I was named Liberal Party leader, following in the footsteps of many great men, and my predecessor Stephane Dion. I owe a special thanks to my good friend Bob and (NOTE: Can someone in the Liberal research bureau please find the name of the other chap in that race and insert here) for stepping aside.

I immediately placed the Prime Minister on probation, then on double probation. I flirted briefly with the idea of upping this to triple probation, but after wafer-gate and the Iqauluit typo, I felt the time was right to strike. As Machiavelli said “It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver”, so I concocted a clever plan, whereby I would reveal a bold policy vision to Canadians, letting voters know where I stand involving special committees, EI reports, and opposition days. Alas, I was foiled by Jack Layton! Foiled by Jack Layton – what an ignominious fate, would you not agree?

On a personal note, I’ve enjoyed spending time eating my double-double at Tim Hortons, as I watch the Canadians and Maple Leaves duel it out for hockey supremacy, eh?

In conclusion, let me leave you and your family with a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Michael Ignatieff – “Patriotism is a strong nationalistic feeling for a country whose borders and whose legitimacy and whose ethnic composition is taken for granted”.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings, Joyeux Noel, Sincerely yours,

Michael Ignatieff

Fourth Annual Politicians in Cowboy Hats

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

2008
2007
2006

There were no see-my-vest incidents this year but, thanks to a few news stories, a few e-mails, and Jim Prentice’s facebook page, I’m able to present the fourth annual Stampede Fashion Round-Up.

First up, the federal party leaders:


Elizabeth May, quite fairly, won “worst dressed” last year, but the experts turned it around and named her “best dressed” this time around.

Looking at the comparison below, she has obviously improved, but I think it’s probably a case of low expectations and a better picture being used this year, so I’m not quite prepared to crown her as the champ.


So while May earns a solid runner-up ribbon, I’m going to go with Jack Layton as my choice for “best dressed” among the party leaders. For a mustached socialist from Toronto, he pulls off western surprisingly well.


In this picture, Harper tells a local farmer about anti-Stampede comments Michael Ignatieff had made earlier in the day. Harper would later return and clarify that it was actually PETA which had made the comments.

Ever since leather vest-gate, Harper has put in solid, but not spectacular, performances. This year is no different – he seems to have settled on the checkered shirt and dark cowboy hat as his go-to outfit.


So Harper went with the red shirt, and the rookie Ignatieff went blue. While Ignatieff didn’t embarrass himself, he played it safe, and deserves a 4th place finish. I know Ignatieff’s an academic and a bit out of his element, but if Stephane Dion can pull off a cowboy hat, anyone can.


A surprise appearance by Gilles Duceppe! He does go with a hat, so I may have to slot him in ahead of Iggy in the rankings.


Calgary Mayor Dave Bronconnier poses with Lisa Raitt. Raitt sported a black cowboy hat until she misplaced it by the pancake tray.


This brings us to Stampede superstar Jim Prentice. Sure, past environment ministers have turned in their SUVs for hybrids, but Prentice one-ups them by going horse back.


Prentice poses with the Tory caucus.


Like Prentice, Harry Chase is a Stampede superstar…the man is a cowboy, and could stare down Wyatt Earp. However, I must once again point out that the “Harry Chase MLA” apron is absolutely ridiculous.

While Chase always looks the part, provincial politicians often struggle at the Stampede. Ed Stelmach and David Swann are both nice people but both were clearly outdone by a bunch of city-slickers from Ottawa. I mean, for crying out loud, the tree-hugging Green Party leader had a better Stampede outfit than Alberta’s Premier and leader of the opposition!

Man of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, LPC Leadership 2006, Person of the Year | Leave a comment

Time doesn’t have a copyright on it so, for the third straight year, I’m ready to crown my Person of the Year. Last year, Belinda took the honour for her waltz across the floor which grabbed headlines and changed history. In 2004, I went with Ralph Klein for his re-election and interference in the federal vote. And while Stephen Harper is the obvious choice this year, I think picking the PM is a big cop out (although not as lame as picking “You”, I guess) so this year’s Calgary Grit Person of the Year is…

Michael Ignatieff

A year ago, Michael Ignatieff was fighting for a seat in Etobicoke Lakeshore, admit virulent criticism that he was anti-Ukrainian and supported torture. It was as messy a run for office as you’ll ever see in a safe Toronto seat (which, for the Liberals, are most Toronto seats). A year later, he came within a few gaffes of winning leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada and, despite his loss, he drove much of the political agenda in 2006 and is now Deputy Leader of the LPC. Not bad for a rookie.

As the frontrunner, Ignatieff grabbed most of the headlines in the year long Liberal leadership race and, as Dion said in his acceptance speech, took the lumps because of it. Everytime he sneezed, his critics said it was proof his immune system couldn’t handle the top job and his supporters said it was a sign he wasn’t a typical politician and that the sniffles were why they loved him. His stand on Afghanistan may have been the reason Harper called a snap vote on extending the mission and he led the debate throughout the entire leadership race (often arguing both sides, as one scribe wryly commented).

But despite what many Liberals say, the Liberal Party is not Canada and to be man of the year, there needs to be some meaningful and lasting contribution to the country. Ignatieff did just that during the Quebec nation fiasco this fall. While Ignatieff’s ownership of the nation motion was proportional to the motion’s popularity for much of the year, it’s hard to deny that he got the ball rolling on it. No policy this year was more controversial and none has the potential to have a larger long term impact on the very nature of our country. Those who support the motion feel it will squash separatism while those who opposed it (such as myself), feel it’s a very dangerous step towards the edge of the cliff. Time will tell, but for better or worse, Ignatieff’s role in this debate made him influential in 2006.

Michael Ignatieff is not a politician but that’s what made him a gift to blogging in 2006. Big ideas, big gaffes, and a polarizing figure – the holy trinity of blog material. One presumes Iggy will continue to provide good fodder in 2007.

Stampede Round-Up

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, LPC Leadership 2006, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

It was a busy weekend for Calgary Liberals with a swarm of candidates descending upon the city for Stampede photo ops. Saturday morning was the annual Liberal breakfast, held this year at the Calgary Zoo. I was able to snap pictures of the seven candidates in attendance:

Gerard Kennedy likely won the cowboy competition of the Liberal leadership fashion pageant. He was the gutsiest when it came to “going western” and pulled it off the best (on both Saturday and Sunday). He seemed very relaxed when he spoke at the Liberal breakfast, keeping things light. (I have more GK pics posted on his OC)

Dion deserves full marks for effort. No one is going to ever confuse him for Clint Eastwood but, this being his fourth Stampede, he knows that you have to at least try (translation: the cowboy hat is a must). Stephane was proudly telling anyone who would listen that “I look better than Stephen Harper in my cowboy costume“. I did notice that one of the buttons on his shirt was undone when we had a sit down interview on Sunday, so my hope is he wasn’t walking around all morning like that. Of interest, on the pamphlet table his campaign included free cabbage seeds which was…odd.

Ignatieff stayed away from the cowboy hat, going with blue shirts both on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how well he could have pulled off a complete Stampede wardrobe so maybe that was a wise move. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t mention the carbon tax at all in his Saturday morning speech…

Carolyn Bennett looked a lot better on Sunday than Saturday. The Sheriff badge on Saturday made her look more like an 8 year old at Halloween than a serious politician. But she bounced back well on Sunday and was probably the best dressed of the Liberals at the Hays breakfast.

Dryden got the biggest laugh of the morning when he talked about how he’s always worried about fitting into his jeans. Strange thing is, his outfit actually looked slimming. Like Iggy and Brison, he went with the jeans and open button shirt, avoiding the hat.

Scott Brison got a good response to his speech on Saturday and scored some points by talking about going to Cowboys when in Calgary. That might explain why he didn’t feel quite up to dressing up for Sunday. His jeans and golf shirt was probably the least “Stampedy” outfit of any of the politicians at the Hays breakfast.

Hedy Fry showed up late on Saturday and, along with Dryden, was a no-show on Sunday. Her speech was pretty much “I’m a Western Liberal. You’re Western Liberals. You should vote for me.” I found it quite odd that a Vancouver MP would say “I welcome the other candidates to Calgary and the Stampede”.

As always, every single candidate sucked up to the crowd with various variations on “Calgary Liberals are the best Liberals” and “we need to elect more Liberals in Alberta”. You can read Naylor’s Take on the Stampede Breakfast here.

Sunday was the Hays breakfast and Paul Wells has a good fashion review on his site. Among the highlights of his spy’s report:

Someone is dressing the Prime Minister. […] About a zillion times better than last year’s bizarre too-tight S&M gear.

Jim Prentice wore the same damn buckskin jacket he always wears, Stampede or not, but given his portfolio, it makes sense.

As for the Liberal pretenders, Carolyn Bennett looked great and stylish in denim and suede.

Stephane Dion looked like Stephane Dion in western wear, which is not as weird as it sounds.

Michael Ignatieff looked exactly as you would expect an academic who was told to dress western to look. […] No hat, though, which I’m told he claimed was because he has an enormous head and did not want to make it more enormous.

Most shocking outfit was on Scott Brison. Normally, our Scott pulls off the downtown-hipster-late-cowboy thing well, but he didn’t even try today.

The winner by far of the fashion sweepstakes was Gerard Kennedy. You can tell when someone is really a westerner, and this guy is to the ranch born.

Since I’d talked to the Liberal contenders the day before, my two main targets for the morning were Jim Dinning and Steve Harper. Unfortunately, I missed Harper completely. It sounds like he jumped out of his limo, did some media and left fairly quickly (with so many human beings around, Steve was no doubt uncomfortable).

I did manage to track down Jim Dinning. I went up to him and said “Hello Mr. Dinning, could I have my picture taken with the next Premier of Alberta“. Jim laughed and we had our picture taken. However, as soon as the click went, he turned and walked over to a nearby business exec without saying a word to me. Considering I could very well have been a potential supporter, that rubbed me a bit the wrong way; last year, Jim Prentice was willing to chat even after he knew I was a Liberal. On the fashion front, Jim wore a white top with his own name on it.

So, all in all, a fun weekend. I interviewed Stephane Dion after the Hays breakfast and will have a recap of that later this week.


Liberal MLAs Harry Chase and Dave Taylor [left] and the third amigo, Liberal MLA David Swann [right]

Rob Anders?

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