Michael Ignatieff calls for new discussion on marriage

Former Liberal Party leader Michael Ignatieff has signed onto the Institute for American Values “Call for a New Conversation on Marriage”. The socially conservative American organization has published this “appeal from Seventy-Four American Leaders” on their website.

The document calls for a new dialog on the preservation of marriage, a refocusing of the american debate on marriage to one of economic impact and away from one focused on the culture war of gay marriage.

The signatories focus on what they perceived to be current problems of the current American dialog on marriage:

1. The current conversation is almost entirely a culture war over gay marriage, pitting traditionalists opposed to gay rights against gay rights leaders and their allies.
 
2. The current conversation treats marriage decline as primarily a problem of the poor and minorities.
 
3. The current conversation on heterosexual marriage focuses largely on the young, especially on teenagers at risk of getting pregnant and on parents of young children.
 
4. The current conversation on middle-class marriage is largely therapeutic and psychological, focusing on gender roles and on “soul mate” issues.

This position is seen as an about-face for the organization and its founder David Blankenhorn, who was a prominent figure in the American fight against same-sex marriage.

A Call for a New Conversation on Marriage: An Appeal from Seventy-Four American Leaders

Liberals vs. Liberals

Today, the Prime Minister stated that more Canadians are working today than before the global economic crisis hit.

Dalton McGuinty’s Chief of Staff on Twitter:

Did you know Ontario has recovered 96% of the jobs lost during the recession? It’s true, and shows the plan is working.

From Global Toronto:

The NDP would scrap $850 million a year in planned corporate tax cuts of $1.4 billion this year and $1.8 billion next year to offset the lost HST revenue, said Leader Andrea Horwath.

“The HST is simply a shifting of tax burden off the corporate sector onto the backs of individuals,” she said.

“We would claw back the corporate tax cuts the government has implemented and cancel the future ones.”

Scrapping such a big slice of corporate tax cuts would hurt the fragile economic recovery by raising taxes on the struggling forestry and automotive sectors, warned Finance Minister Dwight Duncan.

“It is about the most short-sighted, dumb public policy pronouncement one can envision,” said Duncan.

Dwight Duncan is the Ontario Finance Minister.

Meanwhile Michael Ignatieff suggests freezing corporate tax cuts. And Scott Brison is none too pleased about the Conservative record and believes that the federal Liberals can do better.

UPDATE: David Akin asks the question,

Alright, I admit it. When a journalist asked Liberal Finance Critic Scott Brison a devastatingly worded question there was no way to answer safely, I smiled.

Here’s the question put by Sun Media’s David Akin:

“The Liberal finance minister in Ontario was asked this week about corporate tax cuts, his program. The NDP there would like tax cuts to be cancelled and his response was, and I’m quoting now, ‘It is about the most short-sighted, dumb public policy pronouncement one can envision to cancel corporate tax cuts,’ and I wondered if he knows something you don’t.”

Frankly, any honest reporter would admit there is great pleasure in seeing a politician squirm because of your question. Upon hearing the question, Brison did squirm. Then his response went from refusing comment to repeating his line that the previous Liberal government in Ottawa cut corporate taxes when the government was in surplus and he called on the current Conservative crowd to adopt that same policy and cancel the cuts scheduled to go into effect next year. All in all, Brison made the best of a situation he couldn’t win. When your provincial cousins call your policy “short-sighted” and “dumb” what possible response can you give? Something tells me there were probably some interesting calls between Parliament Hill and Queen’s Park not long after Brison’s news conference.

Tony Genco: Michael Ignatieff’s second, third, or tenth choice?

From Jordi Morgan’s Maritime Morning show on Rogers News Talk Radio in the Maritimes,

Michael Ignatieff initially courted Julian Fantino before being turned down by the former OPP commissioner now running for the Conservative Party in Vaughan. Mr. Ignatieff continues in the interview to say that the Liberals spoke to many people to run for them in Vaughan. Why did he have to settle for former Liberal staffer, Tony Genco? If Vaughan has been a Liberal seat for over 20 years, why did Ignatieff have any trouble filling the candidacy?

Jane Taber reports,

Stephen Harper’s star candidate, Julian Fantino, was asked by Michael Ignatieff to run for the Liberals in Vaughan – but turned him down, according to the Conservatives.

Now, on the eve of Monday’s vote, the former Toronto police chief and OPP commissioner is being subjected to what the Conservatives consider character assassination by the Liberals.

And so the Tories are fighting back. They are charging hypocrisy and are breaking their silence on a secret they’ve kept since the beginning of the by-election campaign.

“We were aware from the beginning of the campaign that Mr. Ignatieff asked him to run for the Liberals,” Conservative Party spokesman Fred DeLorey said. “We had no intention of making it public – but to see the Liberals actually attack his character and integrity, a man who has committed his career to public service and fighting crime, is just too much.

UPDATE: Greg Rickford’s SO-31 in the House today,

Peek-a-boo politics

The Liberals are complaining that Julian Fantino, the Conservative by-election candidate for Vaughan is playing “Peek-a-boo politics” by skipping all-candidates debate. For Liberals, they hope, this plays into a bit of a weak narrative of a secretive and scripted government that doesn’t want to engage “real Canadians”.

“This type of ‘peek-a-boo’ politics is straight out of the Harper playbook where scripted, invite-only photo-ops keep candidates safely out of reach of real people with real questions.”

All-candidates debates, while they sound great in principle, have very little value to the candidates themselves, especially if they represent mainline parties. If you’ve ever been to one of these events you know that each candidate brings their staff and volunteers and cheers and jeers and “engagement” with the “voting public” comes in the form of planted question after planted question. All-candidates debates sound good on paper, but in practice they’ve become farcical. All-candidates debates are more accurately described as “all-decided”.

In fact, when we used to train campaign managers (of all stripes) at the Manning Centre, we advised that all-candidates debates should actually be avoided if possible. Why? Because more accessible (leaning or undecided) voters are met at the door or on the telephone. A candidate’s time is much better invested knocking on doors or by doing telephone canvassing. All-candidates debates turn into a competition for fevered applause versus exaggerated boos for all candidates. The media is disappointed when a candidate is a no-show, of course, because these “debates” are a lazier opportunity for “getting the pulse” of the “electorate”. In fact, we used to advise candidates show to as few as possible in order to check the box for the media.

The Liberals should also be careful with the “Peek-a-boo” label as they’ve been guilty of their own charge in the past,

From a Globe and Mail report during the Liberal leadership race of 2008,

The weekend brouhaha at a meeting of Liberals from Ontario made it clear that Mr. Ignatieff is viewed as the leading contender, and that Mr. Rae’s first goal is to ensure his opponent does not quietly coast through the race.

On Sunday, Mr. Rae boycotted a leadership “forum” where candidates were to take questions from riding presidents and other party officials, after Mr. Ignatieff refused calls from his two rivals to open the session to reporters and cameras.

Mr. Rae accused Mr. Ignatieff of preparing a “peekaboo” campaign.

“There is a fray: It’s called a leadership race. And you can’t very well stay above it. If you want to stay above it, you’re not going to be in it,” Mr. Rae said outside the meeting at a Mississauga hotel.

“The Liberal Party is a political party. It’s not a private club.”

Liberals are still obsessed about the old game

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.

Previous: Winnipeg Free Press gets it wrong on Vic Toews

Calgary Grit responds!

Calgary Grit has responded to my earlier post on Tony Genco with his own rebuttal of my points.

Here are Dan’s points:

1. Julian Fantino also doesn’t mention Stephen Harper in his lit, therefore Taylor’s earlier point is moot. Here is a Fantino lit piece that prominently features Stephen Harper. Dan may respond with Genco lit that boosts Ignatieff.

2. Ken Dryden was President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hashtaggate indeed! I dunno about you Dan, but when 99 out of 100 Canadians think Ken Dryden, they think Montreal Canadiens. The other Canadian? When he thinks of Dryden, he thinks of the most dynamic political personality since Pierre Trudeau! When Canadians subscribe their loyalties to hockey clubs, it’s not generally rooted in the administration of the team. But perhaps I don’t fully understand the Liberal way of thinking. My hockey heroes are on the ice (good lads that work hard and play by the rules)

3. Nice numbers, check out my numbers! Let’s talk about numbers! The article that Dan cites has a photo caption that suggest 1000 in attendance. The actual author of the piece, however, wrote the following,

The hundreds of those in attendance, of which a significant number were seniors, snacked on roast beef sandwiches while the politicians spoke.

Further, from the comments section of the same article,

vaughanelection November 5, 2010 at 6:56 PM #

Hi Ron
Great question! People came and went throughout the night, so maybe numbers were different at different times. But I called Supreme Banquet Hall. The gal on the phone says the room could fit between 500 and 600 max., depending on how it was set up (but she wasn’t working last night).
So maybe we low-balled. But as the gal on the phone said “Oh, people always exaggerate that.”
Hope that helps.
-ad

The amazing and ever-resourceful Pundit’s Guide, however, noticed the discrepancy first,

Still in Vaughan, there were competing crowd counts for the Ignatieff-Genco rally on Thursday night. Vaughan Today: 250. Liberal.ca: 1,200. Young Liberal Joseph Uranowski on Twitter: >800. The Supreme Banquet Hall apparently rates the room for 500-600, depending how it’s set up.

Anyway you slice it, the Liberals are inflating their numbers. Though slicing and inflating aren’t generally wise to do together.

Back to you Dan!

Omar Khadr questions for Jack Layton, Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff

Mr. Layton, now that Omar Khadr is a convicted and sentenced murderer, do you believe that a future Canadian government will owe an official apology to him? And since you’re running to be Prime Minister, will you take the initiative to do so should you lead a future government?

Mr. Harper, your government acted in concert with opposition parties to expedite legislative reform on pardons earlier this year. Given Khadr’s sentence and reported plea deal, what is your government going to do on judicial reform to delay his repatriation? What was your government’s role (if any) in the plea negotiation? If the government had a role, what were its objectives and how probable was an alternative less desirable outcome?

Mr. Ignatieff, which is the travesty of justice in your view? The detention, trial, conviction and incarceration of Omar Khadr? Or that Omar Khadr will only serve what is projected by some to be two years of a 40 year sentence for murder that was handed down by a jury in a US military tribunal today?

UPDATE: The NDP’s justice critic Joe Comartin is on the record regarding his party’s position (pre-conviction and sentencing),

“The thing they should do is (give him) a whole chunk of money, much as they had to (with) Maher Arar, because there is nobody who believes Omar Khadr has any chance of being acquitted in a military tribunal and he will probably be sentenced to a lengthy period of time inprison in the U.S.,” he said. “They could compensate him for all those years that he is going to lose.”

Michael Ignatieff silent on Nobel Prize Committee’s “Megaphone Diplomacy” with China

Jailed Chinese pro-democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. Xiaobo was arrested in 2008 for being an author of “Charter 08″, a manifesto demanding greater free speech, improved human rights, and open and free elections in China. His award is a statement for those seeking democratic reform in the world’s most populous nation and is a positive impetus for liberty in the world.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the following statement regarding Xiaobo’s prize,

“Our government has expressed concerns in the past about his imprisonment…

I would hope the fact that he is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner would cause our friends in the Chinese government to look seriously at that issue of his release from prison.

But, as I say, I think more than anything, we’re delighted for him and send him our congratulations.”

In the past, the Prime Minister’s vocal criticism of China over its human rights record has been a point of conflict between Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and Harper.

Ignatieff, during a tour to China earlier this year criticized the Prime Minister,

[A Chinese student] said Ignatieff properly praised China for pulling so many people out of poverty with the success of its economic engine, but he had avoided saying anything substantial about human rights challenges, “the fact, for example, that there are many activists currently imprisoned for no apparent reason. He just avoided that.”

In an interview, Ignatieff said he didn’t believe in “megaphone” diplomacy — a reference to Prime Minister Harper’s early, high-profile, public criticisms of China on human rights.

The Nobel Prize Committee released this statement regarding its awarding of the 2010 Peace Prize to Xiaobo,

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2010
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2010 to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Norwegian Nobel Committee has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace. Such rights are a prerequisite for the “fraternity between nations” of which Alfred Nobel wrote in his will.

Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal. The country now has the world’s second largest economy; hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Scope for political participation has also broadened.

China’s new status must entail increased responsibility. China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights. Article 35 of China’s constitution lays down that “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”. In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China’s citizens.

For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China. He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008. The following year, Liu was sentenced to eleven years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for “inciting subversion of state power”. Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own constitution and fundamental human rights.

The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China.

Michael Ignatieff released a statement congratulating Barack Obama on his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize the day it was announced that the US president had won it. However, it’s Monday, and Ignatieff has yet to weigh in on the Nobel Committee’s bold statement that may promote positive change and more freedom in China.