Monday, December 18, 2006

Like the speed of light, my dislike of Michael Ignatieff is a constant

You won't be surprised to hear that I'm disappointed in Stephane Dion. He's named Michael Ignatieff Deputy Leader, and most everyone in the Liberal Blogs is acclaiming this a wonderful move - with a few notable exceptions.

Most Liberals seem to be applauding this because it shows party unity, or something. Essentially, the argument seems to be that Ignatieff deserved this post for losing.

Let's think this through, though. Quite apart from the number of other well-qualified MPs who could serve, Ignatieff is the one sore thumb. He was a walking, talking disaster during the leadership race, and he's mused publicly more than once about leaving the Commons if his career doesn't take the course he wants. You may dismiss those musings, but they did happen. (Remember "depends who's leader"?)

Is he necessary for the Liberal Party? I would say absolutely not. I honestly can't think of a single bloc of voters that Iggy brings to the table that Dion can't get another way. Quebec is already back in play (thank you, national media, for being wrong again) and Dion's playing it cool with Afghanistan. If anything, Iggy's a liability. He's got zero ability at message discipline, even when it's his own career on the line. Do Liberals want to gamble on what he's going to say - as their deputy leader, remember - during the next election? Remember, Harper lost in 2004 because his caucus wouldn't stay muzzled. Don't think it can't happen to you.

And the issue of party unity is misunderstood. If Ignatieff and his followers are unwilling to work in a Liberal Party led by Dion without having his ego stroked, than he doesn't belong in the caucus, much less the Deputy Leader position. Meanwhile, if he is willing to work in the Party led by Dion without reservation, than this trifle is unnecessary. In fact, rewarding a dissident party member with a position of prominence can lead to disaster - as the Liberal Party of Canada should know, if they've read any history of the Chretien-Martin wars.

Now, with all of this said, I'm going to adopt a wait-and-see approach on this one, because frankly "Deputy Leader of the Official Opposition" is not what you, I, or the kid who serves me coffee at Tim Hortons would call a position of power and influence. Hell, even for the actual Government Deputy Leaders aren't wildly important. So if this is where Ignatieff's career goes to die, I'll be happy.

Obviously, I'm a confirmed NDP voter and blogger, so you don't need to take my advice Grits. But a basic knowledge of your own history would be a good start.

(And why not a dame, huh?)


James said...

I'm sure they do.

A bigger question is why a committed NDPer cares?

wilson61 said...

What a nice Christmas gift for the NDP! Iggy, the #2 man.
So who is going to call the shots, Dion or Iggy?

Werner Patels said...

All I can say is: disaster! Ignatieff is unfit for any political position in any party.

Canadians had better pray he never becomes prime minister.

john said...

James: This NDPer cares simply because I'm terrified of a Liberal govt with Ignatieff in a position of power. Not, you know, an unlikely event.

Technetium said...

"I honestly can't think of a single bloc of voters that Iggy brings to the table"

I was really dissapointed in his leadership campaign. I was reading his book Virtual War (on the bombing of Kosovo) during it and was very impressed - I will definitely be reading more of his books. I was looking forward to an Iggy vs Harper election, where I would feel comfortable voting for either.

Then he imploded (Qana, Nation, Constitution etc.). Talk about a dissapointment.

So... I mostly agree with your statement above, because I might be the closest thing to a voter who might have been woo'd by him, and that chance is 0. =)

But this should be good for the NDP.

Fag Fucker said...

I dunno, I think it was probably a good move. As noted in the G&M today, Dion is following in Trudeau's footsteps by making his leadership rivals his lieutenants. Rae, Kennedy and Hall-Findly are all expected to get prominent positions too. If he didn't do this he'd probably have to spend 6 months pulling the party together. Dion simply doesn't have six months for unity distractions. The Libs need to be ready to go in case of a spring election.

And offering these positions does do a lot for party unity. It's about way more than just the individual candidates. Ignatieff was backed by a lot of powerful people who believe he deserves to be taken seriously. By making Ignatieff happy, you make them happy. Ditto for the other candidates.

Speaking of the other candidates, some have very strong positives (esp. Kennedy & H-F). Dion would want to make them a big part of his team in any event. Elevating the other leadership candidates and not Ignatieff would be seen as a big snub.

In terms of whether this will help or hurt the Libs electoral fortunes; I agree the Iggy can be a mess, but as you noted deputy leader is not that big a deal. Further, his shortcomings may be balanced by his appeal west of Ontario. If I remember correctly, he did pretty well in the delegate selections. I think Dion is going to need all the help he can get out there.

Finally, Iggy's a big draw on the speaking tour. The Libs desperately need to improve their fundraising capabilities.