The return of the right-wing liberals

Charlie Smith of has an absolutely fantastic piece on Michael Ignatieff.  This piece is definitely worth the read for any progressive who still foolishly thinks that the Liberals under Ignatieff have more in common with the NDP, Bloc and Greens than they do with the radical right wing Tories of Stephen Harper.


Triumph of business Liberals: Michael Ignatieff will lead the party

“I believe I have the judgement, the character, the values and the experience to lead at a very difficult time in the life of our country.”

This is what Bob Rae says on the front page of his Web site for his now-defunct Liberal leadership campaign.

I’m left wondering if Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals’ chosen successor to Stephane Dion, has the judgement, character, values, and experience to lead Canada at a particularly difficult time in its history.

Let’s look at the record.

When it comes to judgement, Ignatieff supported the Bush administration’s attack on Iraq even though there was no United Nations approval.

As far as his character goes, some Canadians were no doubt very troubled by a lengthy profile of Ignatieff written in 2006 by the Globe and Mail’s Michael Valpy. There were shocking revelations about how Ignatieff treated his younger brother while both attented the elite Upper Canada College as teenagers.

Ignatieff’s ruthlessness, which was on display in the Valpy profile, suggests that Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally has some competition in this department.

As for Ignatieff’s values, I’ve been bothered by his rather one-sided view of the war in the Balkans in 1999. It’s a viewpoint he seems to share with the CBC’s Carole Off but which has been challenged by retired Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, former B.C. NDP candidate Rollie Keith, University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus Edward Herman, and Osgoode Hall law professor Michael Mandel.

Honest commentators who can look back with the benefit of hindsight know that the Serbs slaughtered Bosnian Muslims at Srebernica in 1995.

But they also know that the creation of Kosovo was based on fraudulent claims of genocide perpetrated by the Kosovo Liberation Army four years later. Ignatieff helped build his reputation as a human-rights advocate in part on the basis of these now-discredited claims.

Unfortunately, the Canadian media are too ignorant about this issue to call him on this point.

As for experience, Ignatieff was out of the country for 29 years, which leaves me wondering if he’s ready to serve on the average city council in this country, let alone occupy 24 Sussex Drive as the prime minister.

This week’s coronation of Ignatieff is a triumph of business Liberals like John Manley who always wanted Canada to be on friendlier terms with the United States.

I’m guessing that those in Vancouver who will applaud Ignatieff’s rise to federal Liberal leader are likely some of same people who apologized to former U.S. ambassador Paul Celucci in writing for Canada’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing in Iraq.

Don’t be surprised if some on the left wing of the Liberal party decide that now is the time to rip up their membership cards and join the NDP.

5 Responses to “The return of the right-wing liberals”

  1. 1 Stephen K 10 December, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Sorry, (and I’m to the left of the left wing of the Liberal Party), but I’m not convinced. While Ignatieff is certainly not as progressive as I would like, he would have to pretty far right-wing to come close to Harper. I like Charlie, I read him every week, but there’s nothing in his piece that convinces me he’s closer to Harper on a broad range of issues.

  2. 2 Jennifer Smith 11 December, 2008 at 12:26 am

    I’m no fan of Ignatieff’s either, but I find it odd that an entire article purporting to accuse the man of being a ‘business Liberal’ doesn’t cite a single example of his views on economic matters. All I read from this is that he’s a war hawk – and even that is based on stuff he said years ago.

    I’m actually starting to wonder if I’ve judged the man too harshly.

  3. 3 martinp 12 December, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    The simple problem is that its difficult to ‘judge’ him at all except for the pieces mentioned here. As for economic matters, that’s not particularly relevant as its never been the PM making economic decisions-at least not for the past twenty years.

    The main issue here is that the guy is a complete media fabrication. In the past politicians at the very least had to either spend years building a career, or at least have money. This guy literally came out of nowhere and became a media darling. There are tons of liberals around who have really spent decades ‘in the trenches’. Yes, they are plush trenches, but its not like this guy was working in a steel mill.

    As for this particular case, I can’t help but think the Bob Rae really is an NDP at heart,because he really couldn’t do the NDP a better favour than drop out and hand the kingship to this guy. Nobody in their right mind with ANY kind of so called ‘left’ tendencies could possibly think he has anything in common with them (conservatives at least in the past were also ‘progressive’ and many still are)

    If you want a war hawk, you’ve already got one as PM. If you thought the conservatives had a field day with Stephane Dion, how about a ‘nominated’ leader that wasn’t even voted in by his own party, who went to private schools, spent most of his career in the US at Haaavaard, and has about as much a connection with the ‘average canadian’ as Prince Charles.

    Hell, I’d RATHER have Harper as Prime Minister! I’ll bet Stephane Dion has never been so popular!

  4. 4 Ken Furber 16 December, 2008 at 11:03 am

    “I’m guessing that those in Vancouver who will applaud Ignatieff’s rise to federal Liberal leader are likely some of same people who apologized to former U.S. ambassador Paul Celucci in writing for Canada’s refusal to join the coalition of the willing in Iraq.
    Don’t be surprised if some on the left wing of the Liberal party decide that now is the time to rip up their membership cards and join the NDP.”

    Actually I’d bet neither of the above statements are true. Look at the last 25-30 years of Canadian political history. When the Liberals falter the voters split to the left and right and the NDP and Conservatives flourish. Like him or loath him, I’m betting Iggy will unite the Liberal Party members who are growing tired of eating Harper’s shit. Eventually it had to happen and finally for them they have likely got the man they wanted in Dec. 2006 and would have got if it hadn’t been for the Dion decision. The Liberals just want power again. And they’ll get it with Iggy. Then the left and right of that party will fight to see who climbs to the top of that pile. And yes while Iggy is a right winger, he doesn’t come close to Mr. H. Don’t believe me, watch and see what he does with a majority.

  5. 5 Nick J Boragina 20 December, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I’ve quit the tories and joined Iggy’s Liberal Party. I consider myself a moderate center-right person, and that’s where today’s Liberal party is.

    The truth is that the Liberals have not been “progressive” since Trudeau. Turner, Chretien, Martin, even Dion. None of them were nearly as left-wing as Trudeau. People need to stop pretending that today’s Liberal party is the “Party of Trudeau” Times change. Trudeau was an NDPer in his youth and he will always be an NDPer when it comes to policy. The Liberal Party is not the NDP. Anyone who wants to vote for the NDP should indeed, vote for the NDP.

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