Michael Ignatieff, please read (if you haven't already) and learn from this column. I used to complain about Chantal Hebert's hate-on for Stephane Dion when he was leader. I was unable to admit that she was correct in her analysis of that great man's poor leadership qualities because I was too busy drinking the Dion koolaid (and wanted to stay loyal). The voters made clear my mistake (and those of other Liberals) last October.
Since then, I've developed a great respect for Hebert's thoughtful opinions. And on Ignatieff today, she is completely right, including her remedy, shared by many observers, for Ignatieff's current problems: Iggy needs to articulate a compelling narrative to Canadians, not only for an election campaign but for his own leadership.
Until Ignatieff does this, he's doomed to fail as Liberal leader. If we go into an election campaign and Ignatieff hasn't figured out a way to win over the hearts and minds of Canadians, he will lose to Harper, whether it be 2009 or 2010.
As we know, Ignatieff has little government/political experience. But such a lack of experience isn't a recipe for failure as long as he can communicate passionately to voters who he is and why he wants to lead us. Barack Obama's success is testament to that fact. What Obama lacked in actual experience, he made up for in perceived capability. In a year when voters wanted change, he inspired and he won big.
Ignatieff will have to do the same with his own unique, inspiring message that sums up his leadership and where he wants to take the country. And it better be meaty, yet simple enough to capture hearts and minds. Voters aren't yet tired of Harper, so in lieu of an inspiring alternative they simply can't resist, they'll keep Harper. I'm sure if we had an election this fall, Harper would've won. He might've even squeaked out a majority and Ignatieff's leadership would likely be finished. Now that Ignatieff has a bit more time, I hope he does his home work and comes up with that narrative asap!
How's this for a narrative?
Ignatieff is true to his own principles: he's a smart liberal who's learned to reconcile and maintain his own values in the face of the harsh realities of this world. We don't have to give up our values as Canadians to succeed in this world. Ignatieff's tough. He straddles the political divide between left and right, always prepared to do what's right for Canadians.