Thursday, November 13, 2008

I support Iggy

Michael Ignatieff is set to join the Liberal leadership race this morning. So let me be one among many to announce my support for him.

I supported Stephane Dion with all my heart in 2006. I was one of the original 18% of the party that did so (although I didn't make it to the Montreal convention, I merely voted for Dion during Super-duper weekend.) At that time, both Ignatieff and Bob Rae had failed to convince me either of them were right for the party leadership. My main stumbing blocks against Iggy were his support for the Iraq war plus his relative absence from the country in his adult life. Against Rae, it was his terrible NDP past, as well as his non-existent roots in the Liberal Party.

Today, I'm glad that Ignatieff has recanted on his earlier support for the Iraq fiasco. Two years later, Ignatieff's stints abroad seem less of a liability. We will have to defend them, if he wins. We'd do well to remind Canadians that most of his time abroad was spent in Great Britain (not America), as if that might make a difference (it just might). Surely Canadians can admire a fellow countryman who achieves great things outside of the country.

But surely Ignatieff's strengths will overpower these attacks. Ignatieff is a brilliant man, he's grown into a top notch political leader since first being elected almost three years ago. He is nuanced, sophisticated, but tough. Between he, Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, there is no question in my mind that Ignatieff is the best candidate. He's as progressive as Rae on the social issues, yet can credibly speak to the majority of Canadians in the centre of the political spectrum (unlike his former university roommate.)

I was surprised to see Gerard Kennedy pull out of the race yesterday. As he failed to maintain a national team after the 2006 race, his decision yesterday seems to make sense. Although if my straw poll on the right is any indication, it seems Kennedy still had much support out there. Regardless, the race is now very focussed between three main candidates.

In 2006, many Liberals including myself thought we'd embrace something very different in Stephane Dion to send a message to the public and to the party establishment. Sadly, our error gave us the worst election result in modern Liberal history. We can't let that happen again.

Iggy seems more than ready to take on the reins of leadership. I'm deeply curious to find out where Ignatieff will take the party and, if given the chance to govern, take the country. He's been a good soldier, now it's his turn to be the leader.


On an entirely different subject, let me say what a bizarre post this is. Don't worry, I won't be inviting you to my wedding...


Skinny Dipper said...

I think Ignatieff has had a little over three years to get acclimatized to the Liberal Party and Canada. He is no longer an outsider candidate.

As for Bob Rae, even though he is technically an insider, I have never heard him state why he switched from the provincial NDP to the federal Liberal Party.

Personally, I think that the Liberal Party needs to move back to the centre of the political spectrum. That means balancing economic and social issues. Green taxes are no good; green tax breaks are good.

The question about marriage is a very good one. It puts people on the spot. Heck, anyone can support gay marriage if one does not need to deal with it in any way. You may not agree with the blogger's comments. However, let us appreciate his honesty. I remember going to Church and Wellesley with a few progressive friends of mine. One of my most socially progressive friend's body language changed when he actually entered the land of Oz for the first time. He behaved as if he wanted to escape at the first possible moment. He supported gay rights on paper. But when he actually had to talk to people who were gay, he clammed up and his eyes shifted all over the place.

If and when you ever get married, I would be happy to attend.

Matt Guerin said...

I hear you. It's one thing to support equality on paper (and I welcome it.) But yes human beings are human beings. When confronted directly with things outside our comfort zone, it takes time to get used to it. There's nothing wrong with that, it's normal. I've read Robert's additional comments on his blog and can say I find his post less strange now.

Militant Dipper said...

Queer Liberal not you too. Don't go to the dark side you're to smart for that. I think you're dismissing his little Iraq problem too easily. If he could be wrong about something as huge as Iraq what else could he be wrong about in the future? Ignatieff loves the idea of "nation building", hell he's written books about it. What little Imperial adventures would he have in store for Canadians? He is also from the Harvard/Yale school of Neo-liberal economics. The exact kind of economics that just crashed and burned on a world wide scale. He may be able to beat Harper but he also may be worse.

Matt Guerin said...

Hey militant, sorry to disappoint but I like the whole package Iggy presents. I guess I'm being more pragmatic in this leadership race, having made the mistake of "making a statement" by supporting Dion last time. I can forgive Iggy for his Iraqi mistake which was made as an academic, not a politician, whose concern was for the Kurds at the time. He's admitted his error on that one and hopefully has learned from it. Do Canadians care about that issue anymore? Well they elected Harper twice. It seems time to move on.

As for your other comments about imperialism, I think you overstate and oversimplify his positions. I think he understands the importance of liberal ideals, but also understands we live in a violent world and sometimes force is necessary. When you've published as much as he has, it's easy to pick and choose quotes to exploit and exaggerate.

And he's hardly the McCain-esque deregulator you claim him to be. But we can agree to disagree. Next to Rae and LeBlanc, he's simply the best candidate.

Militant Dipper said...

Matt you are gonna make me cry. Agree to disagree it is then. I will still probably read your stuff. I usually dig it. And I'm sure it won't take you long to recognize you have backed the wrong horse. Until then, enjoy the dark side.

Matt Guerin said...

Dear militant, so sorry to make you I hope you'll still read my stuff. We'll see how the race goes, but I really can't see myself ever endorsing Rae. I like him as a person and a politician. I'm glad he's joined the Grits late in life. But to be a credible Liberal leader, you can't have former NDP leader on your resume, in my estimation and I think in most people's as well. Even if he had a stellar economic record in government...

I like LeBlanc, but against Ignatieff it seems silly supporting him. I want somebody seasoned and ready, no more leadership experiments. I do imagine that LeBlanc is laying the groundwork for the next race between he and Justin Trudeau.