Tuesday, April 21, 2009

True Ignatieff Love: By the numbers

Anyone contemplating rushing out to buy Michael Ignatieff’s book in hope of finding exciting, new-ish policy ideas from the new-ish Liberal leader is bound to be disappointed.

You might think a man wanting to be thought of as a prime minister-in-waiting would use his new book to promote his vision for the country he only returned to three years ago. You might think the halted Liberal leadership contest would require that. But aside from a few mentions of interprovincial trade and an east-west power grid, Ignatieff‘s book offers nothing on the scale of Jack Layton’s 2006 book Speaking out Louder -- which some considered excessively policy prescriptive.

Those who have bothered to sift through Professor Ignatieff's latest tome have offered this snap shot to give a real sense of what the 211 pages of True Patriot Love are really all about:

Total mentions of …

Issues facing Canadians
Jobs = 0
Pensions = 0
Canada Pension Plan = 1
Employment = 0
Employment insurance = 0
Climate change = 0
Environment = 0

Recent History of the Liberal Party
Bob Rae = 0
Jean Chretien = 0
Paul Martin = 0
Stéphane Dion = 0
Sponsorship = 0
Carbon tax = 0

Ignatieff and his family
The Grants (George Monro, William Lawson, etc.) = 284
His wife “Zsuzsanna” = 4
His brother “Andrew” (whose estranged relationship with Ignatieff was excruciatingly documented by Michael Valpy) = 1
Personal pronoun “I” = 164


A BCer in Toronto said...

If you're buying the book hoping for a tale of adventure and romance in the old west, you won't find that either.

The book has been in development for years. It was never going to be about policy proposals. It wasn't meant to be a leadership or political manifesto. He has never said that's what the book is about. In fact, he has many times said that's NOT what the book is about.

So your criticism is decidedly offbase. It's like me coming to your blog and complianing about the lack of Major League Baseball analysis and coverage.

Scott said...

Hey BCer, pretty defensive no?

I've had a read through the book and I have two words for you: pure drivel.

This book is an attempt to make it seem that Michael Ignatieff has something more than a tangential with Canada. This book reads like it was written by a guy who hasn't had any relationship with Canadian politics since the late sixties.

Oh wait, it was written by that guy.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Defensive, how so?

Your opinion of the quality of the book aside (I haven't read it myself), this blog post attacked the book for not talking about policy ideas. I merely pointed-out that this wasn't a book about policy ideas, so attacking it for lacking them is kind of silly.

As for your attacking him for having spend time outside the country, "pretty defensive no?"

Scott said...

The biggest criticism against Ignatieff is that he hasn't taken any substantive policy position (other than the ones he backtracks on).

So what does he do? Write a book in which he lays claim to Canadian history pre-1969, and doesn't talk about policy.

Futher, he's going to have a policy convention that isn't about policy.

So why should we vote for the guy?

Blogging Horse said...

Come on now BCer. Liberal flacks sold this book as a policy piece, which explains how headlines like "Ignatieff has 'big vision' for Canada in latest book" got written, right? http://www.nugget.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1529800

Yet there is little in it other than wheezy meanderings about a family Ignatieff has spent as much time away from as he has with.

But Scott's last is the point. Ignatieff isn't going to talk about policy in a party leadership debate. And he isn't going to talk policy at the convention. And he doesn't talk about it in his book.

So does Ignatieff not think we poor colonists deserve to know what he stands for?

A BCer in Toronto said...

Here's a link to 35 pages of policy that will be discussed at the convention that you say isn't about policy.



A BCer in Toronto said...

If you want to take what newspaper headline writers say as gospel, then I'll share a few doozies about the NDP with you. But we both know better. And here's a direct quote from the article you link, straight from the horse's mouth (no pun intended):

It's not a political manifesto, it's not my election platform," he cautions in an interview to promote his 17th book. Putting the book aside, has Ignatieff been releasing detailed policy? No. Neither has the NDP or the BQ for that matter. Frankly, I'd like to see Ignatieff filling in more of the blanks. But he's hardly being unique in playing his policy cards somewhat close to his chest before an election. Has the NDP pre-released its next campaign platform.

And as for this oft-repeated myth about not talking about policy at the policy convention, it's just that: a myth. The link above has 35 pages of policy that will be discussed at this convention. So that's a hard statement to square with reality.

Blogging Horse said...

Apologies ... "limited policy debates".


Scott said...

Hey BCer, I also heard about all the policies that got rejected from the Commissions! Isn't it great that the party gets to censor resolutions that are supposed to go to the floor?

Also, none of this will get much time, because the Convention will all be about the Great Michael.

Liberals: personality before policy.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I've been quite vocal with the concerns I've had about the Liberal policy process, Scott.

But to say policies are being censored is a gross distortion of reality. Just like it's false to say no policy was being discussed, or that Michael hasn't taken any substantive policy positions.

And every time I disprove the distortion, the distortion is glossed over and the goalposts are moved along further.

I think this started with a post about a book by Ignatieff about his family and Canadian identity that BH was upset didn't double as a manifesto of policy for Liberal opponents to disagree with. If memory serves.