Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The reviews are in

Frances Russell tears into Michael Ignatieff for his regressive instincts, and points out that the Libs figure to have nothing but trouble pretending to offer an alternative to the Cons because of them:
(Ignatieff is) losing because his default instinct is always right-wing.

He showcases himself as the inheritor not just of the Liberalism of Trudeau, but of Lester B. Pearson, the prime minister who created Canada's social safety net with nation-building programs such as medicare, the Canada Assistance Plan and the Canada Pension Plan. And he has even floated his own nation-building ideas: an east-west power grid; a national oil pipeline to service Quebec and the Maritimes; national child care and early learning; free university education for everyone with the marks.

But they are never fleshed out past the headline and often vanish completely. And when he is confronted with real challenges or opportunities to support or advance bedrock Liberal principles and policies, Ignatieff invariably drops the ball. When Quebec's 2010 budget announced plans to impose a universal health tax and floated the idea of user fees, Ignatieff not only wasn't critical, he wrongly claimed both conformed to the Canada Health Act.
"'I don't recall one instance this weekend when someone said, here's the problem, the solution is a big expensive government program. Didn't hear it. Didn't hear it,'" Adams reports Ignatieff said (after his thinkers' conference). "He obviously hadn't been listening," Adams writes. "Moreover, even those social policy objectives Ignatieff did enumerate turned out to be subject to a higher priority: eliminating the deficit. By making the deficit his overriding priority, he made jobs, education, health care, day care, pensions, and so on, secondary: a wish list for another day."

And there was more. Ignatieff insisted no new spending would occur unless funds were specifically identified, ensuring the deficit would not rise, Adams says. The Liberal leader also told delegates: "We are not a big government party; we are the party of the network." Adams believes this means the Liberals will just convene federal-provincial conferences and hope the provinces can work things out.

Ignatieff's leadership has "demagnetized" the Liberal party, Adams warns. It no longer can rally the anti-Harper vote. "Most Canadians who give up on the Tories go right past the Liberals to the NDP, the Bloc (Québécois) or, in particular, to the Greens," he concludes.

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