Well, it looks like Michael Ignatieff’s not quite done with the Liberal Party of Canada just yet. He’s put out a platitudinal essay in today’s Globe and Mail. And a careful reading shows just exactly how he managed to wreck the party’s popularity without realizing it.
I call it “platitudinal” because that’s what it’s full of: lots of lovely sounding words in the diagnosis, but offering very little by way of solution. Consider this:
Leaving aside the fact that the NDP doesn’t feel it needs a deal and the fact that many Liberals would leave the party if a deal were done, Liberals have better things to do than arrange their own funeral. . . . The NDP are not liberals in a hurry, and we are not a party of the left. We are a free enterprise party, and they are big-government social democrats. We have done good things for Canadians when we worked together in the past, and we can do so again, but we should do so maintaining our separate identities.
Which is just so many words of saying the Waffle doesn’t believe a merger would work. (Note that even though it’s “merger” and not “coalition,” we have to wonder whether such a thought was in the Waffle’s mind when he signed onto that 2008 “coalition pact.”)
You also have to wonder about this type:
To win, we will have to take the economy away from Mr. Harper. We used to own it as an issue. He has moved into our house; we will have to evict him.
The problem with this is that he writes as if the PM — who has a right to claim some knowledge of how the Canadian economy works, being an economist himself and having led the country for many years with this issue as a strength — is some thief who stole Liberal turf that rightly belongs to them. It’s that Liberal arrogance, the idea of entitlement to power, that’s risen up in the passage, and he doesn’t seem to realize it. With that sort of attitude, is it any wonder that he lost the election?
Of course, you know what the Liberals should be worried about? It’s in the last paragraph:
We truly have the fight of our lives on our hands. We’ve allowed our enemies to caricature us. We’re not and never have been the party of big government. We’re not and never have been a party of paternalist snobs. We don’t believe this is a liberal country, just waiting to take us back, any more than we believe it is a conservative country, out of our reach forever. We believe what Wilfrid Laurier believed – and he was in opposition for most of his career – that politics is about earning trust, by offering Canadians a vision of Canada that appeals to their hopes, not their fears, that summons up the best in their natures, not the worst. Most of all, we Liberals have to regain trust in ourselves and in the brave new generation who have joined up for the fight and who want to win.
Yes, it’s a pep rally speech, but note the use of the “we.” There’s a little, subliminal hint there, a bit of the old Joe Clark perhaps, that Mr. Ignatieff not only still considers himself a big-L Liberal, but he may be thinking about running for them again, perhaps in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, perhaps in another Toronto riding.
And if Mr. Ignatieff is thinking that … well, how do people feel about Michael Ignatieff, Liberal Leader Redux?