Ignatieff Speaks -- Five Days After the Prorogue

Our esteemed Official Opposition leader Michael Ignatieff descended from the clouds and wrote his reply to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's phoned-in prorogue. Only 5 days late, two days longer than it took Barack Obama to respond to the airline security threat. Vacation is all, you know.

He starts off quoting Churchill. It's not a good omen when a man of ideas like him doesn't have an original one in the first two paragraphs. However he is right when he writes, "A minority Parliament can be messy but it can work if the Prime Minister wants it too."
The fact that this was done in the media "black hole," just hours
before New Year's Eve, says a good deal about Mr. Harper's motivations.
(Michael Ignatieff, The Toronto Star, 5 January 2010)
Astute observation -- many of us on Twitter were wondering where the heck the media were in reporting on the prorogue -- but he neglects to say that it was also his own "black hole." Harper has done this sort of thing before, yet Ignatieff was caught in absentia. It's as if he had not studied Harper's tactics and did not have a plan ready to implement as soon as Harper acted in one of his predictable ways. And it's not like proroguing Parliament came out of the blue -- Twitter had been twittering about it for some time. And so while Bob Rae came out tweeting, and only Gilles Duceppe of all politicians had a cogent reply to Harper's move, Ignatieff was off snoozing, vacationing, lying on a beach, zipping down a slope, whatever he was doing which was anything but keeping a beady eye on Harper with a countermove ready to activate at the first sign of proroguing. Actually, he wasn't very effective earlier when people were musing about a possible prorogue, otherwise Harper would not have gone prorogue. Harper is clearly unafraid of the big bad wolf who huffs and puffs. Why would he be since the wolf has given him plenty of time to build a solid, non-transparent house.
Even more troubling, this shutting down of Parliament is not a rash or
impetuous act. It is part of a consistent pattern of behaviour on the
part of Mr. Harper's government.
(Michael Ignatieff, The Toronto Star, 5 January 2010)
Ignatieff acknowledges that the second prorogue in two years was predictable. So again why did he not have a tactic ready to counteract Harper's prorogue attempt? For a man so well educated, he doesn't seem to have even looked into our past, our Canadian past, for what other Parliamentarians did or how other Westminster-style Parliaments worked when such shenanigans took place. But then he still doesn't seem to get how coalitions are a perfectly legitimate Canadian form of government.

Ignatieff goes on to list how Harper has worked to make government processes more opaque and to reduce government accountability, in direct contradiction to his original campaign platform. But Ignatieff's solution to this is talk. But it doesn't seem he wants to talk to the other MPs in meetings, inside or outside the House of Commons, to continue the business of Parliament as they ought. Nope. He wants to talk to Canadians in public events between the three coasts (I wonder if he'll stray up to Nunavut or Whitehorse?), yet he hasn't joined the vibrant conversation on Twitter and Facebook. They're still going strong; he can jump in anytime with more than just a pointer to his op-ed piece. And he doesn't say how the Liberals will hold "the government to account on the Afghan detainee issue", perhaps through all that talking in universities and sexy town hall meetings.

He ends by saying that he doesn't want to have another election. Gee, talk about giving Harper a heads up on Liberal strategy and letting him know Ignatieff is still not ready to campaign, either because of lack of a policy platform or bucks or perhaps both. He is listening, he says -- sounds like Frasier -- but clearly not well enough. What Canadians are saying is that they want the Opposition to respond differently. Less filibustering and more action. Less being caught out in the cold when Harper does the predictable and more of smart countermoves to prevent Harper from obfuscating the truth and trashing vital Bills. Less huffing and puffing and more leadership. That's what Canadians really yearn for: excellent leadership.


Anthony said…
I'd be happy with "benevolent leadership" nevermind excellent leadership.

Another excellent post Shireen. It baffles me why the Opposition parties aren't listening to this groundswell of political resentment.

Ignatieff doesn't need to go to town halls and listen. He should know already what people think. He should be DOING not LISTENING. He should be ACTING not REACTING.

It's clear that the "academic" brand that the Cons gave Ignatieff really wasn't that far off the mark.

The next election (April, whenever) will come too early and the Liberals still won't have their act together. The NDP won't be able to get a majority. We'll be left in the same quagmire we're in now, with an autocrat as our Prime Minister.

The centre-left political machine needs to wake up, smell the coffee, and do something serious about fixing how our country is being run.
Thanks Anthony!

It baffles me too, especially as whoever my MP is, they're usually more responsive than my MPP or councillor when I e-mail them -- in the past mind you. I think Bob Rae gets it, only because when he became Premier of Ontario he replied to my letter (unlike my MPP). So a politician who did that way back when is still likely to be responsive now.

I agree with you about the academic brand and being left in the same quagmire. The only solution I can see is to convince the electorate to vote the NDP in to power. I figure that's the only way to shake up the Cons-Libs. They're too much the complacent cats of power.
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