Politicians give no quarter when it comes to advancing their party's interests over that of an opposition party. Politics being what it is, we don't often see political parties in common agreement over anything, even if their platforms are eerily similar. Partisanship comes to the fore as it will, even if there are no profound ideological variances. The party currently enjoying the ascendancy will do its utmost to ensure that its major opposition has no advantages if they can do anything about it.
So here's the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper unleashing campaign advertisements that consign the leader of the opposition, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff to the role of 'foreign interloper' in the Canadian democratic process. Nasty, nasty. Not at all gentlemanly, not even dreadfully civil. The "politics of personal attack", according to a cool and composed Michael Ignatieff who tells a Liberal rally that "They've been attacking me recently for being out of the country". Yes, they most certainly have.
"Out of the country" in this instance refers to 34 years of living and earning a living outside Canada. Obviously, Mr. Ignatieff preferred to live that considerable length of time in England and the United States to pursue his interests there rather than in Canada. Might that impute a disinterest in Canada on the part of Mr. Ignatieff? Fair to say. And are 'personal attacks' the monopoly of the Conservatives? Haven't the Liberals always attempted to paint Stephen Harper as a dark presence whose ideological conservatism would bring the country to wrack and ruin? That's not personal?
But, according to a very righteous Mr. Ignatieff, "We don't do that kind of politics in the Liberal party". Could've fooled me. And that's precisely what the Liberals are on about; fooling the electorate. "It doesn't matter about me, I can take anything they throw at me, anything at all. I'm standing up not for myself, but everybody who understands one thing about this country - we have one kind of citizen, only one kind, and Stephen Harper doesn't get to decide who's a good citizen and who isn't." Right on.
The electorate does. And though the electorate has an unfortunate tendency to forget past misdemeanors, the fairly recent past under the Liberals did not give the voters much satisfaction in trust and reliance on their type of governance. As for Mr. Ignatieff bravely claiming' it doesn't matter about me', why nonsense, it's all about 'me'. And if the Conservatives really wanted to get down and dirty they could talk about the lack of 'family values' demonstrable in Mr. Ignatieff's personal life, but they haven't. They have standards of decency too.
The Conservative advertisements are amusing, actually. And in fact, they're simply reminding the electorate of the truth of the matter; that the leader of the official opposition, champing at the bit to return the Liberals to power and their current leader to the executive position he feels he should occupy is more than a trifle hypocritical. His deep and abiding love for and interest in Canada was nowhere to be seen throughout the course of most of his adult life. To challenge that reality Mr. Ignatieff produced a family history the clear purpose of which was to counterbalance the perception that he was more American than Canadian.
After all, while living in the United States Mr. Ignatieff had no hesitation in referring to himself time and again as an American. Not a Canadian who happened to be living in the United States, but a 'we' American with fully vested interests in whatever happened in the United States. While living as an American he was in agreement with the Bush administration's professed need to invade Iraq, and he mused as well on the needfulness under certain circumstances to apply some modes of what might be construed as torture in interrogating jihadists bent on wreaking havoc in 'his' country.
Moreover, even high-ranking Liberals who were themselves vying for the Liberal leadership pointed out during the original leadership campaign less than three years earlier, that Mr. Ignatieff was extremely un-Canadian in his familiarity with, and commitment to the country. Not at all, they said, leadership material. How could someone aspire to become the country's prime minister under those circumstances? Or, as one of his rivals pointed out reasonably, "...someone should only seek to lead this country if he has "Canada in his bones"." Writing that one's ancestors had 'Canada in their bones' just doesn't cut it.
As for Mr. Ignatieff pointing out the current government's failings exemplified by the fact that "There's enough on the record that we can attack. Record unemployment, record bankruptcies, record deficit, that should give us enough. I feel very strongly that that's what Canadians want. (The Conservatives have) been in power since January 2006; this is a record open for examination." Yes, it most certainly is, and the prime minister gets high praise for the manner in which he has led the country, abandoning ideology for decency and commitment to salving old wounds among other positives.
He has expressed his regret to various communities; our Aboriginal communities, over past misfortunes with residential schools; the Chinese-Canadian community for Canada's imposition of a loathsome 'head tax'; the Indo-Canadian community for the incident revolving about the Komagata Maru refused entry to Canada. He has officially welcomed and given full recognition to the Dalai Lama, has recognized the suffering of Ukraine, the genocidal tragedy of the Holocaust, and given official recognition of the Armenian Massacre.
This government has remained a loyal ally to Israel, while still supporting Palestinian sovereignty. The Harper government placed the Tamil Tigers on Canada's terror list, alongside Hamas and Hezbollah. Mr. Harper has formed a working relationship with the new American president. This government has demonstrated the intestinal fortitude to make tough decisions, such as absenting itself from official attendance at Durban II, and it has comported itself in the United Nations in a manner quite unlike the obsequious attitudes of previous Liberal governments, to discomfiting ethical situations.
This government has sought to bring Canadians together, bargaining in good faith with the provinces. While no government comes close to perfect, and none is capable of satisfying all the country's interests, to lay out an agenda of blame on this government for the current global economic disaster is disingenuous at best, a bit of charlatanism thrown in for good measure. The current government is doing precisely what the Liberals would be doing, (we hope) were it they in power at this time, struggling to bring the country out of economic doldrums.
The Liberals, in a crass attempt to keep the Conservatives and Stephen Harper from ascending to government warned the electorate through their straight-up advertisements that bringing the Conservatives to power would ensure there would be "soldiers, with guns. In our cities. In Canada". Mr. Ignatieff, who do you think you're fooling?
Labels: Canada, Crisis Politics, Government of Canada