Saturday, February 28, 2009

Liberal carbon tax to file paternity suit against Ignatieff

Taking the opportunity of being in the part of the country that shut out all but seven Liberals, Michael Ignatieff told westerners yesterday that the party’s marquee carbon tax of the last election was a mistake.

Today’s Toronto Star celebrates the inevitable facing of facts with the headline “Dion's carbon tax plan was a vote loser, Ignatieff says

But hold up a second. Whose carbon tax, was that again?

While there can be no question that Stephane Dion raised the carbon tax as his own; fed it and put it through school; the father of the Liberal Party’s carbon tax is, it will be recalled, one Dr. Michael Ignatieff, BA, MA, PhD, Esq.

In the heady days of the fateful 2006 Liberal leadership race that ultimately chose Dion, it was the then-front runner Ignatieff who first suggested a carbon tax. Barely unpacked from his arrival in Canada, Professor Ignatieff proposed the Liberal Party reverse its long-standing opposition to carbon taxes in an attempt to pick what strategists knew would be a fight with Stephen Harper which would serve to lift him above the Rae-Dion-Kennedy “also-rans” and secure victory.

The Vancouver Sun announced the carbon tax's glorious birth saying:

“Canadians are ready for tough measures, including a controversial "carbon tax" to boost the cost of environmentally-unfriendly fuel, in order to deal with the escalating problem of climate change, Liberal leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff said Sunday.”

Not only did Dr. Iggy sire the carbon tax, he was even the first to hint at the unfortunate “Green Shift” name.

"I'm proposing to cut taxes on the clean fuels to create a powerful incentive in the marketplace. It's tax-shifting, not tax-increasing,"

So come on Dr. Iggy, live up to your responsibilities.

It’s easy to recognize a mistake born of bad judgment (heck, you are even developing a knack for it), but it’s another to be a dead beat dad to the albatross you brought into the world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Down on the Count: Ignatieff “naive, egotistical”: UK paper

Count on the British to be able to size up Michael Ignatieff. He has after all spent more of his recent life in their company – in their universities, in their wood-paneled social clubs, on their televisions and in their newspapers – than he has on ours.

For its part The Guardian – Britain's venerable left-leaning paper – is decidedly anti-Ignatieff, if this column in its on-line edition today offers any indication.

The column casts long doubts over Ignatieff's leadership, finding him “nowhere” on the economy, ridiculing his “conditional” support for the Conservatives' budget, and blasting him for his decidedly un-progressive decision to let the Harper government survive despite the alternative accord offered by the New Democrats.

Michael Stickings savages Ignatieff and the pervasive delusions held about him by the know-it-all establishment saying:

Ignatieff “has never seemed to be much of a Canadian, and certainly not enough of one to be our prime minister. It's not that he has spent so much of his life overseas – mostly in Britain and the US. It's that he has seemed to aspire actively to be anything but Canadian, and more specifically to be American. Which is fine, in a cosmopolitan sort of way, but he comes back to Canada with an air of condescension about him, as if he has seen the world and conquered it and has now decided, with the coaxing of a party eager for him to lead it back to the promised land, to sully himself in the world of politics supposedly on our behalf but really because he just wants to be prime minister, so great would it look on his resumé, a capstone to a long and successful career.”


But wait, there's more. As that last paragraph lets on, Stickings is a Canadian who writes for The Guardian. Not just that, he's also a Canadian who has supported the Liberal Party in the past (on his website he admits to have supported Bob Rae for leader in 2006).

That The Guardian let this column run shows that Ignatieff's international audience isn't all rosy adulation and gratitude from wide-eyed plebes. There is a real sense - from the people who know him best - that the man may be in this for the wrong reasons.

UPDATE: The comments on the column are lively and revealing that Britons are grateful to finally find their televisions Iggy-free …

“Is this the same bloke who used to ponce about on the BBC?”

“he's a dreadful old pseud. he ruined bbc arts programmes in the late 80s. we were glad to be rid of him. our gain, your loss.”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Exit Stage Right? (or Harper's walk in the slush)

There are no doubt a lot of Conservatives – as well as hapless politicos - reading Don Martin’s column today with a tanker-load of askance.

But rather than being an apple short of a fruit plate, Martin may be on to something when he predicts an early exit for Stephen Harper.

“What does all this mean? Search me. But some who orbit just outside Mr. Harper's innermost circle speculate that a Conservative party with no heir apparent could lose its leader before the next election.”

A month ago, it seemed far more likely that Harper might be forced out by a palace putsch aimed at ending Harper to sue for peace with the now-defunct Liberal-NDP coalition. But why now? Having survived the debacle of the November economic statement, and having seen to the Dion-ification of Michael Ignatieff for the foreseeable future, why would Harper walk away from the PMO?

The answer lays in the man himself.

Those familiar with the personal history of Stephen Harper will also know of his penchant for calling it quits prematurely.

Months into his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto, he dropped out to take a mail room job at Imperial Oil in Calgary. Likewise, after a falling out with Preston Manning, Harper didn’t even complete his first term as a Reform MP, resigning 1997.

The nub of it is that more than griping about marginal tax rates, Stephen Harper likes to be right. And with the economy shedding 230,000 jobs in three months, with commercial and personal bankruptcies on the rise, and with a historic trade deficit, Harper, his team and their dogmatic attachment to yesterday’s ideology look very, very wrong right now. If someone is going to have their picture next to R.B. Bennett in the next generation’s text book, better to have be a Prentice, a Baird, or better still a Charest, Harper must be thinking.

If the comedian’s adage is “always leave ‘em laughing”, Harper’s adage may well be “always leave ‘em before they forget about Brian Mulroney.”