The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tory attack ads

Am I to understand that, after countless days pouring over every scrap of footage Michael Ignatieff has ever released in 35 years of working outside Canada, the best the Conservatives could come up with was a clear stutter in the moment Ignatieff realises, while talking, that "it is your country just as much as ..." needs to be followed by something of equal weight?

Don't get me wrong. I do think Ignatieff's time away from Canada is a major issue. I definitely don't think Ignatieff is another Trudeau, either in dedication or in substance. In fact, Ignatieff fits perfectly into the old Progressive Conservative mold: and what does that say about today's Liberals?

I received a rather interesting mailing today, one of many pseudo-campaign materials masquerading as informative government mailings. The claims in the latest one include "cutting taxes for all Canadians" (debatable, but the GST is most visible) and "investing in your priorities" (almost none of mine, thank you), and most interestingly, that:
WE PREPARED in good times by: ... Paying down debt
Wait a second. Was it not the Liberal Paul Martin who did that, first under Jean Chr├ętien and then, briefly, in his own government? Every single Conservative budget in the past 20 years has done the opposite, including Stephen Harper's latest.

Just how short is my memory expected to be?


At Sat May 23, 10:44:00 PM, Blogger susan said...

I don't see how Ignatieff could be considered any less than Trudeau in "dedication or substance". First of all, it requires a considerable amount of guts to do what he's doing. Courage. And dedication to Canada. As for substance . . . excuse me? Where is there any lack of substance? He has done at least as much as Trudeau did - although he didn't travel the world in quite the same way.
I think personally that he has more substance than Trudeau, and possibly he will be more in tune with average Canadians than Trudeau was. I think he is more pragmatic, and possibly, he's more responsible. Hard to say -- and it remains to be seen. I would say though that Trudeau would approve.

At Sun May 24, 07:01:00 AM, Blogger Tenebris said...

I don't know. To me, Ignatieff's written works seem unimaginative, even derivative: popular mostly because they reflect a significant percentage of popular opinion. I have never yet noticed a spark of true passion in him -- and I did, in Preston Manning, so it is not simply a matter of either party or policy. Put it this way: Ignatieff's work has been driven by a pre-existing political polemic, while Trudeau, like Manning, created a new vision for Canada.

Not surprisingly, both Trudeau's and Manning's visions are completely antithetical to the roadmap Ignatieff draws from, for completely different reasons. I obviously can't speak for Trudeau, to say whether he would have approved of the new path, although we do know that he fought elements of it tooth and nail at the time, in the name of social justice. I have noticed that Justin's comments have fallen considerably short of full approval.

(Then again, times have changed -- quite sharply, this year. I do find it ironic that in the shadow of NAFTA and globalisation, a recent word of the year is locovore. Perhaps next year's will be some variant of thrift.)

"Courage" is a word that is thrown around quite handily these days. Let's consider for a moment what it really means.

A new vision is a courageous thing. Vision is to pave the road ahead rather than keep circling on the familiar roundabout: to be a leader of Canadians, not a follower of Canadians. Vision requires a willingness to accept at least some risk, both of the politician and the voter, something rarely wanted in a here-and-now that fears any risk to personal well-being. Vision demands passion.

Those with vision are rarely seen as being in touch with Canadians. Conversely, those who lack it are often seen as in touch with Canadians, but will soon begin to compromise principle in the name of expediency and poll numbers. If they do it skillfully enough, it might even go unnoticed. (Remember what happened to Harper's fifth platform point?)

Without vision, where is the courage?

Forgive me, but I fail to see just what Ignatieff has written or done that requires any real courage at all. Even in the purely political sense, it was Dion who introduced the Green Shift, elements of which Harper is now taking credit for. It was Dion who engineered the alliance that forced Harper to amend the January budget: only to have Ignatieff take exactly the same road with it that Dion had been hammered so hard for taking before. Dion took all the risks and took the fall; while Ignatieff moved into position to take the credit.

Nothing in any of that speaks of Ignatieff courage to me: quite the opposite.

But that is the beauty that is Canada: we can respect each other's different views and work together using the best from each. Perhaps that is the best possible example of what it means to be an average Canadian.


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