Has Mr. Ignatieff become Ms. Campbell
It dawned on me just today. The front-runner of the Liberal leadership contest is displaying some traits that we haven’t seen out of Ottawa since Kim Campbell temporarily took the country by storm in 1993.
Ms. Campbell will forever be remembered for declaring on the steps of Rideau Hall that an election campaign is, in essence, not the time to talk about fundamental policy reform (it was time to take up with a new Russian boyfriend in the back of the campaign bus, however). Had this been an academic panel at UBC, Ms. Campbell might not have raised any eyebrows within the press corps. But it was the first press conference of the ’93 campaign and the PC’s and Liberals were essentially tied in the polls at 36%. As a result of her performance, and latent hangover from former P.M. Mulroney’s major reform initiatives, the government party of the day went on the win just 2 seats.
Her gaffs, and the impact they had on her earlier momentum, apparently haven’t been studied by Michael Ignatieff, M.P. Her ’93 leadership campaign tagline was: “Doing politics differently”. That she did. Not talking about serious issues during a campaign was certainly “doing politics differently”. And it failed miserably.
And this is the link. Some might say that Mr. Ignatieff is waxing about Middle East issues as though he’s still a tenured professor and impervious to his own statements and writings; the same Mensa trap that swallowed Ms. Campbell. He appears to be brilliant, and the only putative heir to the Trudeau mantle within the Liberal Party, but his campaign team must wonder if he suffers from political tourettes. It is more than a bit ironic that a fellow whose claim to fame is that he has been outside Canada for 30 years learning about the nuances of geopolitics, is forced to travel to Israel during the final days of a leadership campaign to hear — first hand — why the Israel government feels its prosection of the military effort against the Hamas terrorists was justified. I’d be happy to save him the effort of the long flight and show him where this information resides on the internet, but I suspect that isn’t really the point of the trip.
The most troubling about all of this is that the Party that brought us the Foreign Investment Review Act, isn’t talking more about where Accelio, Airborne Entertainment, ALI, ATI, Basis100, Corel, Cybermation, Dofasco, Fairmont Hotels, Falconbridge, Geac, Inco, Intrawest, John Labatt Ltd., Masonite, MIL-Davie, Molson Breweries, Newbridge, Pixstream, Sleeman Breweries, Tarragon Oil & Gas, Vincor and Westcoast Energy (to name a few) have gone. Our country’s small, good and great companies are being acquired faster than new ones can be grown in their place.
Let’s spend more time on that topic, and the tax and investment incentive policies that might help change the trend, and just a little less on these geopolitical litmus test issues.