Ignatieff the tall poppy?

Michael Ignatieff’s year in Canadian politics has been marked by ups and downs. He walked into the Liberal leadership earlier last year acclaimed as the new leader of that party after the failed attempt by Stephane Dion. In order to differentiate himself as a different kind of leader — one that could stand tall — he sought to wrestle a concession from the Conservative government on EI reform in May. Indeed, what has plagued the previous two leaders, first Martin and then Dion, was the lack of firm roots in the ground. The Liberal crop blew about as the party that defines itself as the broader middle, and one that tries to be everything to everyone, was finding itself without a firm foothold. Martin tried to branch out in all directions while Dion let the budding weeds of the Conservative party grow throughout the parliamentary plot.

However, under Ignatieff, the Liberals have not fared too much better and any planting has soon after been uprooted. On EI, for example, the ultimatum given was then rescinded — a concession for a “blue ribbon” panel to study the policy, insincerely under the watch of the Conservative Party’s Pierre Poilievre and the Liberal’s Marlene Jennings. And then inthe fall, Ignatieff must have too believed that it was a firm and definitive stand that the party lacked in supply. Ignatieff made another bold pronouncement, this time that the Liberals would no longer support the government. He hoped to give the Grits new growth, but at the same he marked the party for a brutal harvesting.

Canadians, both in the media and those that follow politics to a lesser degree, apply the tall poppy syndrome to those that would deal in our trust in our democracy. When Michael Ignatieff famously told Stephen Harper that “[his] time was up”, this focused attention squarely upon Ignatieff. The questions shifted from Stephen Harper to Michael Ignatieff.

Why do you say his time is up?
Why are you seeking an election?
Why are you seeking an election now?
What is your plan, Mr. Ignatieff?

And as the tall poppy syndrome goes for Canadians, suddenly we saw an opposition leader that we hardly knew ready to take down the government, for no real comprehensible reason. The Conservative narrative built around Ignatieff was that he was “just visiting” and that “he’s only in it for himself”. Ignatieff found that while he may have been trying to shift focus off of himself and onto the other parties supporting the government in the House, he found that now he was getting too much sunlight. Subsequently, Ignatieff’s poll numbers were pecked at and the Conservatives got new space to grow while journalists started to mention “majority”.

And then Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. For what seemed like a routine parliamentary procedure for anyone who, well, knows parliamentary procedure, the media-driven perception was that Mr. Harper was tempting the Tall Poppy prejudice of Canadians. Whereas Mr. Ignatieff sought power for no discernible reason, rightly or wrongly the prorogation of parliament was perceived by many observers as an arrogance of power. The narrative worked, the sunlight became too intense and the Prime Minister’s poll numbers wilted. This time, Stephen Harper’s poppies got a trim from the Canadian public.

Perhaps this is to be the lesson learned about Canadian politics in the past 16 months. The first example of slicing our politics back down to size during this period was the coalition attempt by the Liberals and NDP supported by the Bloc Quebecois in December of 2008. Just seven weeks after an election that had returned a Prime Minister to power, the opposition sought to reverse the perceived order that had come from ballots. This time, the arrogance and ambition of power befell the opposition. While many Canadians saw the Bloc’s involvement in brokering a government as poison, many others were appalled by the perceived unfairness of the move. The opposition tried to stand too tall and were trimmed.

Now, as Michael Ignatieff faces poll numbers on par with Stephen Harper, will he be tempted by power? How will he manage the perceptions of the Canadian electorate? Will a defeat of the government now be perceived to be opportunism?

Anyone that seeks power to govern possesses a certain arrogance and anyone that attains power possesses the strategic skill. Therefore, in Canadian politics, arrogance and crass raw political strategy must be seen to be the character of one’s opponent. When government falls to trigger an election, Ignatieff and Harper will do their best to let the other poppy be boastful and stand too tall.

Comments

comments

  • Gayle

    Your claim that “hate” is not in your vocabulary rings hollow when all the other words in your vocabulary cleary demonstrate you hate the liberals.

    If only merely saying something magically made it come true…

  • Gayle

    Actually, as Harper has demonstrated over the past four years, Adscam did not change the political culture at all.

    In any event, the issue here is that only things that change your life count. If they did not change your life you have to shut up about them.

    Just ask Liz.

  • east of eden

    Uh oh. Gayle is into name-calling and we all know what that means.

  • east of eden

    Ah, sockpuppet speaking point number 127. First of all, I don't believe you have income trusts, Parnel but aside from that, it was not money stolen out of pockets directly. However, after going all ballistic over it, the LPC promised to eliminate…er…restore…er…wait a minute – slightly reduce the tax. Funny how your beloved LPC didn't promise to turn the situation around. Funny, is it not? Maybe our government needed the money to repay the unpaid LPC elections loans (extended again) or the EI money stolen from the fund, or to give money to our Health Care system which was broken by Martin.

  • Gayle

    Really? Conbots is a “name”?

    You are pretty thin skinned.

  • east of eden

    Now Gayle, stop putting words in my mouth. I said that, TO ME, the deficit is meaningless and that TO ME, the debt is meaningful. I did not say what existed or not. I merely said what was meaningful and meaningless to me. Do not read into something that which is not there. Nice try, though. Besides, I don't debate with you – I already tried that, remember? So, there is no argument to go south or any other direction.

  • east of eden

    I don't know anybody named Harpo.

  • batb

    Okay, parnel, you lose the argument: “Harper might as well be Stalin …”

    As for avoiding democracy, you don't think moving public monies around and placing them in not-able-to-be-audited accounts, using taxpayers' money for their own political gain, bid-rigging, political interference, fraud, thievery, and thuggery have the effect of avoiding democracy on the part of the LPC?

    I figure that the problem is that the LPC and their cheerleaders, which would include you, have been so immersed in a culture of corruption that they don't know good government when they experience it. Seeing as their only goal is power at all costs, they have no ability to discern good from bad governance when they're out of power.

    Too bad. So sad.

  • batb

    I don't hate Liberals. I know a lot of Liberals.

    I hate a lot of the things they do.

    I've discovered that lefties can't distinguish between hating what people/parties do and hating people/parties.

    For Liberals, to hate a person's politics is to hate the person. It's the same thing.

    But, that's not how I operate.

    I wouldn't expect you to understand this, however.

  • bocanut

    “Thanks for proving you have no idea what you are talking about…yet again.”

    Do you still agree with your mother about the Conservatives possibly causing your father's cancer?

  • Gayle

    I undertand it. I just don't believe you.

  • bluetech

    “sigh”..? That's Gayle method. heh.

    kenn2 you claim the CPC is using the military as pawns. Can you back that up ?
    Of couse the media ignored the way Ignatief and McCallum insulted our military. I guess they get the thumbs up from the Libs and the likes of you.

  • kenn2

    Nice troll.

    I discussed that back in early January's prorogue thread if you're genuinely interested.

  • batb

    So?

    As G*d is my witness …

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    I am trying to understand how his numbers are significantly better than in 2009 when the media were celebrating his honeymoon. The NDP have recovered for the most part in every region. The Liberals were ahead by a few points for several months and within 5-7 points for the rest. We had a double digit increase take hold for 4 weeks after his declaration of “Your time is up”.
    This time he should NOT declare it ahead and just pull the plug. The coalition deal does not expire and is still valid.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Sorry kenn2 same people from pro-coalition movement. Too many NDP organizers and partisan playing a chief part is staging this tiny protest. Less than 20k bothered to show up.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    A small number of MP have lost access to their regular massage on the hill. The nerve of the government to delay 22 sitting days! The horror!

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Run and hide? Sounds too familiar.
    The CPC have been in power since 2006 and the opposition have NEVER moved a motion of non-confidence. They have talked about it and we all know how that turned out for Dion. In November 2009 voters had four by elections and sent back two more CPC to Ottawa. The brilliant voters decided the Liberals are still not fit to govern and sent ZERO. The NDP and Bloc both won a seat!

  • kenn2

    Heh. Must have been the right 20k people to have affected the polls that much.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    What polls? I keep looking at the Liberal only have 77 seats. The CPC have 145. Remind me again what polls are you referring too?

    Before I forget the ZERO for Four Polls in November 2009?

  • kenn2

    Any poll. From December to February, the CPC shed 15 points, to end up tied with the Liberals in popular support. Nice going, Mr H…

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    You mean unofficial Polls. Gotcha! I enjoy having Liberals refer to specific Polls demanding they mean something and than deny official Polls where voters actually have to do something.
    Like the Facebook Group. Click the mouse and than show up with a pre-printed sign. How does it feel being unable to transfer any gains in official Polls to the actual seats?

  • kenn2

    Ask me that question in about 9 to 18 months. Might be longer if the CPC have to hold a leadership convention first.

  • Gayle

    The point is, if you want someone to accept you do not hate the liberals, you probably should not act like you hate the liberals.

    That is all.

  • Gayle

    Ha ha ha.

    Nice try.

  • batb

    Discernment, my dear friend, discernment.

    As I pointed out earlier, l/Liberals seem entirely incapable of distinguishing between dislike and distaste of someone's point of view and dislike of the person expressing that point of view, and there's not much I can do about that.

    The ball's in your court, Gayle.

  • Gayle

    I am perfectly capable of understanding that someone who decides to characterize an entire group of people, labelling them as either “lefties” or “lieberals”, as having particular disagreeable character traits, is a bigot, and bigotry is based in hatred.

    Do have a nice day though.

  • Gayle

    You know who else thinks they mean something? Stephen Harper.

    Hence the “Lets go to the US and Chat About Hockey” super tour 2010.

    I thought he was supposed to be recalibrating???

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Sadly Gayle you don't like our democracy and how it works. The current political parties are spliting the votes and give the current gov't a clear majority with winning 57% of the seats outside Quebec.
    Your frustration and inability to grow beyond a 20k national protest after a heavy rotation by the national media and the NDP organizers has only made you MORE bitter and angry.

    I am not here to defend your disgust for our democracy in Canada. The Liberals since 2000 have been unable to exploit the same system for their majority.

    A large number of us understand as an activist in favour of wealth distribution for social engineering you feel entitled to your idealogy.

    Just one minor problem. You need votes. Best of luck. Go Facebook revolution!

  • Liz J

    Looks like the topic of this thread has been taken off course by the usual subjects, even mentioning Mulroney's “deficit” without mentioning it was Mulroney's fiscal policies that eliminated the Trudeau deficit.
    For anyone who wants to wax historically:

    Under Trudeau the National debt grew from $11.3 billion in 1968 to $128 billion by 1984.

    1987-93 Mulroney recorded surpluses.

    Mulroney also gave us NAFTA and the GST, both of which the Liberals promised to get rid of. They didn't of course.

    Trudeau created great divisions/solitudes, the West could go to Hell, he didn't need it. Multiculturalism and special interest groups were high on his extreme Left agenda which we are still dealing with today.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    I ran into a few apologist for OMAR and they were provided with another teaching moment. History and facts are rarely kind to the Liberal Party. Voters did not make a mistake in refusing to extend their majority past 2000. The question remains how much will be left if they can't retake their lost seats from the NDP in Ontario. The West has provided the LPC with 7/92 seats only. Ontario needs to step up and finish the job by eliminating another 10-15 seats.

  • batb

    EXCUSE ME. Have I fallen down some kind of rabbit hole?

    It's usual for someone, when speaking politically, to talk about political parties as a group; it's expedient to not have to name every single Liberal when making a political argument. It also happens to be the case that much of Liberal philosophy, belief, and practice I strongly disagree with and what is wrong with that? Do we not have freedom of thought and expression here in Canada? Cannot someone object to the Liberal$' political activities without being charged with “hate”? To be charged with hate speech is a very serious matter here in Canada, especially given our kangaroo courts in the form of the CHRCs.

    I categorically deny that I have ever spoken about the Liberal$, a party whose policies I strongly oppose, in a hateful way. BTW, Gayle, I have never referred to them as lieberals; my terms of choice are Librano$ and Liberal$, the dollar sign signifying the millions the Liberal$ stole from the Canadian taxpayers through Adscam — you know? the monies Chretien referred to as “what's a few million?”

    Now scram.

  • Gayle

    Oh get a grip. I di dnot charge you with “hate speech”.

    I said the language you employ when referring to all liberals or “lefties” demonstrates you hate them.

    And it does.

    (for point of reference, “hate speech” is when you incite hatred, not when you express it)

  • Gayle

    Oh look. When faced with an argument you cannot address, you change the subject to talk about something completey irrelevant, complete with personal attack.

    What. A. Shock.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Dear Defunct Facebook Activist,

    Your rebuttal has nothing to do with anything I said. Keep coming to the defence of the Liberal Party and their inability to regain the confidence of voters.

    Best of luck next time.

  • Gayle

    Awww.

    CS is trying to emulate me.

    That's sweet. Pathetic, but still sweet.

    Do have a good night.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Sorry Gayle,

    Your are much too angry and bitter to be emulated. I also suspect very few of us have an interest or delusion of being invited to the 150 tinkers conference.

    Poor tragic FB activist….hopes and dreams crushed again.

  • batb

    I liked this comment. For some reason I wasn't able to register this … the joys of all this tech stuff!!!!

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Batb,
    Can you picture how frustrated she is going to be with Harper and his next election victory and watch the only NDP seat in AB get snuffed out?

    I almost feel sorry for her. (Operative word is almost)

  • batb

    LOL … almost!

  • Gayle

    Actually, you are just not smart enough to emulate me.

    But I see you are still trying. Good for you!

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    I ran into a few apologist for OMAR and they were provided with another teaching moment. History and facts are rarely kind to the Liberal Party. Voters did not make a mistake in refusing to extend their majority past 2000. The question remains how much will be left if they can't retake their lost seats from the NDP in Ontario. The West has provided the LPC with 7/92 seats only. Ontario needs to step up and finish the job by eliminating another 10-15 seats.

  • batb

    EXCUSE ME. Have I fallen down some kind of rabbit hole?

    It's usual for someone, when speaking politically, to talk about political parties as a group; it's expedient to not have to name every single Liberal when making a political argument. It also happens to be the case that much of Liberal philosophy, belief, and practice I strongly disagree with and what is wrong with that? Do we not have freedom of thought and expression here in Canada? Cannot someone object to the Liberal$' political activities without being charged with “hate”? To be charged with hate speech is a very serious matter here in Canada, especially given our kangaroo courts in the form of the CHRCs.

    I categorically deny that I have ever spoken about the Liberal$, a party whose policies I strongly oppose, in a hateful way. BTW, Gayle, I have never referred to them as lieberals; my terms of choice are Librano$ and Liberal$, the dollar sign signifying the millions the Liberal$ stole from the Canadian taxpayers through Adscam — you know? the monies Chretien referred to as “what's a few million?”

    Now scram.

  • Gayle

    Oh get a grip. I di dnot charge you with “hate speech”.

    I said the language you employ when referring to all liberals or “lefties” demonstrates you hate them.

    And it does.

    (for point of reference, “hate speech” is when you incite hatred, not when you express it)

  • Gayle

    Oh look. When faced with an argument you cannot address, you change the subject to talk about something completey irrelevant, complete with personal attack.

    What. A. Shock.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Dear Defunct Facebook Activist,

    Your rebuttal has nothing to do with anything I said. Keep coming to the defence of the Liberal Party and their inability to regain the confidence of voters.

    Best of luck next time.

  • Gayle

    Awww.

    CS is trying to emulate me.

    That's sweet. Pathetic, but still sweet.

    Do have a good night.

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Sorry Gayle,

    Your are much too angry and bitter to be emulated. I also suspect very few of us have an interest or delusion of being invited to the 150 tinkers conference.

    Poor tragic FB activist….hopes and dreams crushed again.

  • batb

    I liked this comment. For some reason I wasn't able to register this … the joys of all this tech stuff!!!!

  • http://canadiansense.blogspot.com/ Canadiansense

    Batb,
    Can you picture how frustrated she is going to be with Harper and his next election victory and watch the only NDP seat in AB get snuffed out?

    I almost feel sorry for her. (Operative word is almost)