Michael Ignatieff goes on tour

They’re calling in the “bus drive in the snow”.

Michael Ignatieff’s first stop: Carlingwood Mall. Perhaps the sleepiest mall in Ottawa.

There were some protesters outside (University of Ottawa and Carleton students):

Inside, Michael Ignatieff said that he was going to retire John Baird, who Ignatieff labeled the “snarling face” of Stephen Harper’s government. Ignatieff went on to say that Canadians have a choice between the red door and the blue door and that his bus tour may go on for ten more days or “even longer” (hinting at a coming election)

This Liberal rhetoric projects in the same direction, if not the same tone as that of the Liberal Party over the past 1.5 years. Ignatieff famously declared then that “Mr. Harper, your time is up!” indicating that his party would no longer support the Conservative government after a weak summer and climbdown over EI reform (“blue ribbon committee” anyone?) The bold tone of Ignatieff’s statement sent reporters into a tizzy declaring that an election was imminent. Canadians ended up punishing the Liberals as they reflected reservations (rightly or wrongly) of Ignatieff’s perceived newfound hunger for power at any cost. In my opinion, he was just trying to pass the bag to Layton’s NDP because the Liberal leader was tired of carrying it.

Lately, Ignatieff’s actions have followed a similar tack which some senior Conservatives describe as “flailing”. Indeed, Mr. Ignatieff is flailing if only to flail for enough breathing room to establish his party as the one that opposes the government in the House of Commons. Prior to the Christmas break, Ignatieff said that Liberals were ready for election at any time and he voiced a bellicose, reputation-staking tone on Calgary Centre North as a byelection to win (the riding is a safe seat for the Conservatives). Is this an opposition leader seeking an election or one trying to put the onus of supporting the upcoming budget on the NDP? I believe it is the latter and I’ll be watching for a kernel (on pensions?) that the government offers the NDP in exchange for Layton’s support. This certainly isn’t about an election as the Liberals have suffered in the polls and Canadians are still focused upon the economic recovery — an issue on which the voters place their trust in Stephen Harper.

Ignatieff’s false electioneering is a move to give way to Jack Layton so that the Liberal leader can safely oppose the government. This latest Liberal tour is a bus drive in the snow, so that Ignatieff can avoid the walk for the time being.