The Winnipeg Free Press published this piece on their website today,
(see update below…)
The Liberal leader was in Winnipeg on the weekend campaigning for Winnipeg North candidate Kevin Lamoureux when he accused the Conservatives of fighting dirty by running a Filipino candidate in the riding.
Voters, he said, deserved “a straight-up fight” and not “a bunch of games.” He was apparently referring to speculation that the Tories were trying to weaken Mr. Lamoureux’s support by running Filipino Julie Javier in a riding that traditionally supports the New Democratic Party and which has a high number of Filipino residents.
Once again, does anyone know what Mr. Ignatieff is talking about? Is he really suggesting that the Conservatives should have fielded a non-Filipino candidate to make it a fair fight for the Liberal contender? Is it his view that Ms. Javier is a fake candidate who has cynically offered her name to spoil Liberal ambitions and ensure an NDP victory?
Mr. Ignatieff’s comments were an insult to voters in general and Filipinos in particular. To be fair, it doesn’t look like he anticipated the question, but the leader of an institution like the Liberal Party of Canada should be smarter on his feet. In the big leagues, you’re only allowed so many stupid mistakes.
Let’s play the Liberal game for a moment and check some of the boxes of identity politics…
A Conservative Prime Minister stopped blocking the right of women to vote in 1919. Conservatives had the female cabinet minister in 1957.
Lincoln Alexander was the first black MP in 1968, he was a Conservative. He was also the first black cabinet minister and served in a Conservative cabinet.
Other Canadian firsts achieved by Conservatives? Conservatives elected the first Chinese Canadian MP, first Japanese Canadian MP, first Muslim Canadian MP, and the first Hindu Canadian MP.
The best part? This “game” is less and less relevant in this day in age. Canadians elect members that represent them, but perhaps not in the way that Liberals have yet realized.
Julie Javier, the Conservatives hope, will be representative of Winnipeg North. Not by her identity as per the Liberal “game”; if she is ultimately successful she will more importantly represent the values of the voters of Winnipeg North.
While Conservatives can go toe-to-toe with the Liberals whenever they bring out the identity politics playbook, Conservatives win on what really matters in this day and age: the values a candidate brings to the forum.
If you need any more proof of this, look to Jason Kenney’s work over the past number of years. And his critic in Liberal caucus? A fellow whose father defined many rules of the old game, Justin Trudeau.
UPDATE: The Winnipeg Free Press misses the mark, big time. Here’s the transcript of the actual exchange between the press and Ignatieff,
Media question: The race in Winnipeg North, there’s been some speculation that the Tories are running Julie Javier… because might siphon off Kevin Lamoureux’s strong Filipino vote allowing the NDP to win, what do you think of that speculation?
Michael Ignatieff: Let’s not insult the voters of Winnipeg North, let’s give them a real choice – the right choice is Kevin Lamoureux. Let’s have a straight-up fight. Let’s not have any political games here. Let’s give the voters of Winnipeg North a clear choice. Kevin Lamoureux has 20 years of public experience… Kevin Lamoureux is the kind of guy who goes down to McDonald’s and holds clinics to help citizens with their problems and he’s doing it for 20 years. He’s the kind of guy Winnipeg North needs in the House of Commons and everything else is a bunch of games and we’re not here to play games, we’re here to win.
Ignatieff talks a good talk about getting away from identity politics, asks for a fight on quality of the candidates and suggests that the press is trying to frame the fight inappropriately. This is a good sign. As for the Winnipeg Free Press? Terrible. Opinion of an exchange is healthy, but do make sure that it has foundation in fact.
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