Michael Ignatieff recently filmed some relatively bland ads where he told us that Canada needs to reach out India and China and make the new green jobs of tomorrow. The ads were largely panned as too light and I speculate that they served to re-introduce the Liberal leader through a softer lens rather than allow the Tories to solely define Ignatieff as “Just Visiting”. Andrew Coyne joked that the ads looked like they were filmed in Narnia, and I was only too happy to take the meme and run with it.
Today, I’m pleased to report that Narnia has been located! The ads were shot at Cherry Beach in… wait for it… downtown Toronto. As critics rip into Michael Ignatieff for taking his advice from a tight circle of downtown Toronto Liberal advisers, as the Liberal leader appears out of touch with Quebec (let alone the rest of Canada), and as the Liberal Party is lovingly dubbed the Liberal Party of Toronto by both its detractors and realist supporters, Michael Ignatieff shoots his definition ad in downtown Toronto.
Michael Ignatieff in Narnia? Algonquin park? The hundred-acre wood?
Michael Ignatieff’s new favourite park. Cherry Beach in downtown Toronto.
Michael Ignatieff once famously said “The only thing I missed about Canada was Algonquin Park”, it appears that Ignatieff doesn’t miss it too much these days as he couldn’t be bothered to drive more than 3km from the airport, or 15 minutes from Rosedale or Yorkville.
Michael Ignatieff tells us that we need to reach out to India and China, while he himself is loathe to reach out past his Toronto bunker. Ignatieff tells us that we need to create green jobs as he lectures us from a park located on an man-made island peninsula in Toronto.
Here’s is a letter sent to the Parliamentary Press Gallery by Stephen Harper’s spokesman Dimitri Soudas,
Today the Prime Minister was in Ontario to promote Canada as an attractive place to invest and a great place to do business. The occasion was the landmark decision by Tim Hortons to reorganize as a Canadian company.
Michael Ignatieff has criticized today’s focus on the economy, claiming that the Prime Minister should be at the United Nations talking about climate change – not back home focused on the economy.
In synchronized attacks, the Liberal Party issued a press release denouncing the Tim Hortons visit, while MP Bonnie Crombie and a handful of Liberals carrying United Nations flags protested outside the PM’s announcement – essentially picketing a Canadian economic success story.
Our priority is the Canadian economy. Nothing takes precedence over the economy.
The decision to picket the Canadian homecoming of Tim Hortons is shameful: further proof that the Ignatieff Liberals care more about political games than the Canadian economy.
The Prime Minister’s speaking spot at the U.N. General Assembly (Friday, 5:00 p.m.) conflicts with attendance at the G-20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The PM is attending the G-20 summit because our priority is the economy.
The Ignatieff Liberals feel that speaking to the United Nations is more important than working on the economy with other G-20 leaders. We disagree.
Nothing is more important than the Canadian economy
By the way, the Liberal attacks conveniently omit key facts: Prime Minister Harper and other world leaders worked on climate change at a U.N. meeting last night, and today Canada’s seat in the General Assembly will deliberately be vacant during the speech by Holocaust-denier Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
(It’s also worth noting that if Michael Ignatieff had his way, this week we would be in the middle of an unnecessary, opportunistic election. So much for his concern about attendance at the U.N.)
Dimitri N. Soudas
Associate Communication Director/ Press Secretary
Directeur des Communications associé/Attaché de presse
Prime Minister’s Office
Cabinet du Premier ministre
Yesterday, the Liberals (Bonnie Crombie’s office) picketed Tim Horton’s.
Michael Ignatieff is trying to differentiate himself as an internationalist who wants to “regain Canada’s position on the world stage”.
Unfortunately for Ignatieff, while he was away Canada’s international role has matured from peacekeeper and “honest (nuanced) broker” to peacemaker and a country that is heard. We’ve earned our role and found our voice to act and speak with moral clarity, without ambiguity or hedging, on middle eastern policy particularly when it comes Israel and Iran. Canada is a country that is doing the heavy lifting and is now at the sharp end of the spear when it comes to taking a leadership role in rebuilding and securing Afghanistan. While Mr. Ignatieff insists that we need to “regain” our place on stage, he hasn’t noticed that we’ve earned our spot at the table.
Instead of making waffles with other “middle powers”, we’re grilling steaks with the US and the UK.
And while Mr. Ignatieff would have us pass the syrup and listen to some more feel good speeches at the UN, the Prime Minister is at the G-20 working for everyone that balances a chequebook in this country rather than just those that tut tut and pass the cheque.
The background from this story is that the opposition has been complaining about the nature of the government’s advertising of their “Economic Action Plan” and have described the website of the plan as overtly partisan describing “Harper’s government” and taglines allegedly promoting the longevity of the government, “we can’t stop now”.
In this frame, Mr. Cheadle determines that the Economic Action Plan website is missing 20 photos of the Prime Minister. The Action Plan website contains about 34,500 pages. And, the significance of 20 “removed” photos? According to Cheadle, this may show a reaction to criticism and an acknowledgement of a guilty “Harper government” partisan conscience.
This website here at stephentaylor.ca, and many websites created after 2003 change on a regular basis. When I write a new post on this blog, content appears on the top and then drops off the bottom and is archived. I do not remove the content, but the website changes.
But goodness, 20 photos are suddenly not visible in the same way as the day before? This must be indicative of a vast conspiratorial government cover-up.
On the main homepage of the Economic Action Plan there is a timeline of “real actions” which features a series of photos that link to news stories about the government’s economic stimulus under the plan. One presumes Cheadle is talking about this timeline slideshow because the Prime Minister is still visible in 75% of the photos under the “Action plan highlights” section which dominates the top third of the homepage. Further, photos on press releases and other pages seem to remain in place.
As for the timeline, these photos link to news releases describing the stimulus underway. This timeline updates, ahem, over time and when new content becomes available — or is highlighted — old content is archived. In fact, a Google search shows 421 news releases available on the Action Plan website. Since a showcase of 421 news releases wouldn’t in fact be a “showcase”, a select number is highlighted. The controversy here is that this timeline has changed over time. Does the showcase timeline today reflect less of Stephen Harper’s happy face? Possibly. But fret not, tomorrow we may see more of it!
And to top it all off, a late breaking update of the wire story shows us that the bureaucrats (non-political staff) at PCO deny that the PM’s pictures were removed! (The conspiracy goes deep…)
Monday evening, the same PCO spokeswoman called The Canadian Press with a single talking point that can in no way be reconciled with the altered appearance of the site:
“We have not removed any pictures of the PM,” said Myriam Massabki.
“Single talking point” and “can in no way be reconciled”? Sounds like it’s the government of Canada’s word against Bruce Cheadle, amateur web surfer. In fairness, I’m glad Cheadle updated the story to include the quote even though he shows us that he doesn’t believe a word of it.
The point? The site changed because that’s what sites do over time. Content was not removed, it is still available on the government’s server. In fact, all of the non-removed Action Plan news releases (with pictures) can be viewed here.