Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A moment of silence for our fallen comrades

The hardest part of last night for me was watching so many quality MPs go down in defeat. All too often, the individual casualties of a blood bath like this are overlooked, and aren't given a proper farewell. So let me take a minute to thank a few of my favourites for making a difference.

Gone is Gerard Kennedy, who I had the honour of supporting for leader five years ago. One of the reasons I backed Gerard was because he was one of the few people back then who recognized the need to renew and rebuild the Liberal Party. We all recognize that now, and I can only hope Gerard will be a part of that rebuilding, even if it's not as an MP.

Gone is Ken Dryden, arguably the heart of the Liberal Party. Dryden is one of the most thoughtful politicians you'll ever meet and he believed in politics for a purpose, not just politics for the sake of politics. Dryden's vision of Canada will be missed at a time when the Liberal Party tries to come to grips with what it truly believes in.

Gone is Siobhan Coady, a rookie MP who appeared to have a bright future ahead of her. She is exactly the kind of accomplished woman we need more of in politics, and she was one of the few MPs who could ask a tough question with emotion, while still avoiding hyperbole.

Gone is Glen Pearson, one of the few MPs able to rise above the hyper partisanship that infects most who go to Ottawa. Pearson talks in sentences, not sound bytes. He was one of the few who genuinely wanted to make Parliament work, unlike the many who only talk about making Parliament work.

Gone is Ujjal Dosanjh, a quality MP. Gone is Mark Holland, a fierce fighter. Gone is Navdeep Bains, a great MP and a great person. Gone is Martha Hall Findlay, the spunky underdog of the 2006 leadership race.

There are others who I've forgotten or just didn't know as well, but who are equally deserving of praise. I thank them all for their service to the Liberal Party and to their country.

Then there are those who never got a chance to go to Ottawa. Strong candidates, like Christine Innes, who I spent much of this election trying to keep up with as she sprinted door to door to meet voters. And let's not forget all those who put their names forward to run, knowing it would take a miracle for them to win. Having volunteered on a lot of campaigns like that over the years, I fully appreciate the kind of commitment and idealism that takes.

Finally, there is the one MP who lost a lot more than his seat last night. Long time readers will know I've always had doubts about Michael Ignatieff's ability to lead the Liberal Party, and I took issue with the way he commandeered the leadership of the party.

Still, I've warmed to the man greatly over the past year, and I always did like the concept of Michael Ignatieff. If I was writing a Canadian political drama a la West Wing, I'd probably create a protagonist a lot like Michael. He is, after all, exactly what voters say they're looking for in a leader. He's intelligent. He has seen the world. He's not a career politician. It's hard not to fall in love with the concept of Michael Ignatieff.

Yesterday, we found out just how easy it is to not fall in love with the reality of Michael Ignatieff. In the real world, politics is a job like any other, and we shouldn't be surprised when the guys who have been doing it their whole lives prove to be better at it than the guy who picked it up in his late 50s. Michael Ignatieff simply was not able to connect with voters the same way Jack Layton could connect with voters.

I'll write up a proper post-mortem on what went wrong for Michael Ignatieff the party leader in the coming days but for now, a moment of silence for Michael Ignatieff the MP, who didn't deserve to lose his seat. We need accomplished individuals like him in politics, regardless of the party they run for.

A lot of good people lost their jobs last night, Michael Ignatieff among them.

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  • Accomplished individuals very seldom run for anyone else other than the Liberals...

    See current NDP or CPC caucuses for overwhelming evidence.

    By Anonymous Luke, at 6:04 p.m.  

  • Before you write your post-mortem, look at the riding results. Look at how many ridings the Liberals received less than ten percent of the vote. Less than five percent. Even less than three percent. Is there any Liberal leader or policy than can undo what Trudeau and Chretien did to the party in the west?
    Kim Campbell received about 16 percent of the vote. The Liberals just received 18.9 percent, due to many incumbents barely holding on to their seats. Can the Liberals admit what they've done wrong?

    By Anonymous Nuna D. Above, at 6:13 p.m.  

  • Good riddance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 p.m.  

  • "He is, after all, exactly what voters say they're looking for in a leader. He's intelligent. He has seen the world. He's not a career politician."

    What people say they want and what they actually want is almost always quite different. I refer to every girl whom I had a crush on in high school and/or university that said they wanted a nice guy with a sense of humour!

    By Anonymous hazzard, at 6:45 p.m.  

  • I am glad you have done this quick run down. I too have been distraught all day thinking of the great MPs that I've met and worked with over the past two years that lost their seats last night. Its a hard pill to swallow.

    A few I'll mention

    Pablo Rodriguez-my favorite MP just for personal reasons, was able to do a tour with him here in Alberta and he was a great open, honest and humorous individual.

    Mike Savage- also had a great experience with him here in Alberta a great man, who had a great East coast charm to him.

    Sukh and Ujjal, Navdeep, Martha Hall!, Mario Silva.

    What a hard result. But I guess its finally time to deal with ourselves. But like a Phoenix we will return, we will return.

    By Blogger Corina Ganton, at 7:00 p.m.  

  • Nicely written CG. Much better than my send-off for Paul Martin.


    P.S. Why couldn't Goodale, Rae and Trudeau have gone instead? At least we still have Dion and Garneau.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 7:05 p.m.  

  • The political subsidy will be gone, the Liberal party is finished. I'd very much like to see how they are going to pay long past leadership debts now, let alone the new ones they will have to incur.

    A bankrupt Liberal party - in ideas and financially. I'm loving every minute of it. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving bunch.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:28 p.m.  

  • Last I saw, Garneau was defeated. Was that an error?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:32 p.m.  

  • Last minute miracle.

    He gave a concession speech when there were 10 ballot boxes to be counted.... and the last 10 gave him enough to win.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 7:37 p.m.  

  • thanks - that's amazing!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:31 p.m.  

  • LPC won 4/92 seats in Western Canada,
    plus lost Yukon and Labrador.

    Figure out what happened yet?
    hint* distance from the center of the universe.

    By Blogger wilson, at 8:41 p.m.  

  • Whatever happened to renewing Liberals in 308 ridings? I remember when the idea caught hold and then can't remember anything afterwards. The last entry on http://liberal308.wordpress.com/ is May 2009. I think Liberals have to win in the West (and yes, in Alberta) to consider renewal.

    By Blogger mezba, at 8:56 p.m.  

  • Kudos to you for not mentioning Joe Volpe. I know *some* people will miss him...


    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 9:19 p.m.  

  • "Luke said...

    Accomplished individuals very seldom run for anyone else other than the Liberals..."

    Back when the Liberals were the natural governing party, that was true. Hey, who wants to give up a successful career to sit on the opposition benches when you can run for the Grits and become a cabinet minister. But, now... well, that dynamic has changed, hasn't it?

    Look at some of the people in the government benches. The Liberals tried to recruit Chris Alexander - he went with the Tories. The Ontario Liberals tried to recruit Julian Fantino - he joined the federal Tories. (And it's not just the Tories - there were rumours that the federal Liberals, and Tories, tried to recruit Thomas Mulclair, a former Quebec Liberal). The classes of 2008 and 2011 contain a number of Tory MPs (and future cabinet ministers) who are high achieving Canadians (think Peter Peneshue, Leona Aglukkaq, Peter Kent, or Kellie Leitch). These are the sorts of candidates who are high achieving candidates and who, 15 years ago, would have been star candidates for the Liberals.

    Before writing off the front benches of the Tories and the NDP as a collection of morons,you might want to ask yourself why it is that their front benches spent last night celebrating massive victories for their respective parties - while CG is lamenting the defeat of the Liberal front bench and the worst performance in the history of the Liberal party.

    By Blogger Carl, at 9:24 p.m.  

  • Ignatieff was a true gentleman. Harper disgusted me by, his low blow he struck by, insulting Ignatieff's family. Ignatieff did not stoop to Harper's level, to retaliate. I did not vote for Ignatieff. I am sorry now, that I didn't. He was a very honest man. That we very seldom see in, corrupt Canada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:38 p.m.  

  • I think the Liberals' mistake is that they think Canadians actually care about things like openness in government, evidence-based policy-making, ethics and the environment.

    For what I can tell, as long as you're not getting kickbacks, all that matters is the economy (outside Quebec) and a petty desire for one's region to be courted. Harper knew this all along, and that's why he has a majority.

    In short, the Liberals met their demise because they assumed that Canadians are better people than they actually are.

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 9:49 p.m.  

  • "In short, the Liberals met their demise because they assumed that Canadians are better people than they actually are."

    Attitudes like THIS are why you lost.

    beer & popcorn, anyone?

    By Blogger Candace, at 9:54 p.m.  

  • Fuck you NDP all the way 4034701341

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:25 p.m.  

  • Get real, Candace, you think the Tories didn't figure Canadians for a bunch of fools that can be had with some attack ads, regional pandering and a few little tax credits here and there?

    The Tories did. And that's why they won. Kudos to them.

    For the record, I'm not a member of the Liberal Party. Just a distraught citizen.

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 10:26 p.m.  

  • Election Watcher,

    Jobs and the economy. That was the Conservative platform and the NDP platform.

    Those dirty Tories. That was the Liberal platform (and you're still nattering on in the same vein).

    Guess who won? Guess who lost.

    By Blogger Brian Henry, at 10:39 p.m.  

  • Brian: Exactly. Canadians don't care about what the Tories do as long as they're perceived as the best for the economy. Even if Harper is quickly diminishing the quality of our democracy. Liberals need to understand that. We totally agree.

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 10:50 p.m.  

  • For all those who say the Liberal party needs to rebuild in the west... how? Just what can the Liberal party do to win in the west (outside of Vancouver)?

    I am seriously asking this question.

    By Blogger A.L., at 11:05 p.m.  

  • @ A.L. - never mind outside of Vancouver, how about inside of Vancouver? Centre will be gone once Fry retires, and Quadra wasn't excatly a cakewalk.

    I'm not a card-carrying Liberal, but I will miss three of the people on CG's list:

    1) Gerard Kennedy - the only leadership candidate in 2006 who seemed to 'get' the fact that the Liberal party needs to become competitive in all regions again. I wish he had run in the West in 2008 and knocked out a Tory, rather than retreating into Fortress Toronto and running against another good, progressive MP in Peggy Nash.

    2) Ken Dryden - I saw his speech to his supporters at the 2006 convention when he released his delegates. He spoke with a passion and humanity that we don't see very often in our politicians - if he'd shown a bit more of that during the leadership race he might have done better.

    3) Glen Pearson - always struck me as just a fundamentally decent guy who had no interest in political grandstanding and partisan cheap shots, and who genuinely wanted to make a difference in people's lives.

    Can't say I'll really miss the others.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:15 p.m.  

  • A.L.: The Liberals can't do it on their own. They need some help, like a really nasty recession in Canada (perhaps caused by the bursting of our own housing bubble) or a large enough Conservative scandal to capture people's attention. For the sake of the country, I really hope it's the latter, and not the former.

    At this point, though, Quebec might be more promising. If voters there decide the NDP isn't it after all, they will look for a new home. This is assuming Harper isn't too careless and Quebec is still part of Canada in 2015. Although who knows, maybe the Tories want to get rid of Quebec, as it would then be majorities as far as the eye can see...

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 11:40 p.m.  

  • My take off on this election is that Stephan Harper will be the last Prime Minister of Canada. Here are my reasons. Quebecers bought a pig in a poke when they thought they would give Canada one last chance with a federal party. The NDP is utterly powerless against a fascist like Harper. And so Layton is doomed to fail, which will simply PROVE to Quebecers that Layton is RIGHT when he said that Ottawa is broken and does not work. With the Bloc out of the way, there is absolutely nothing stopping a defeat of Jean Charest as the Liberal Premier, and a victory for the PQ. That in turn will lead very directly to a renewed referendum, and this time without the need for a tricky question, the issue will be very clear that voting for independence is the ONLY way out of the Harper Dictatorship.

    And it will happen with breath taking speed because the Bloc will be able to simply say, "We told you so twenty years ago, now do you believe us?"

    And with Quebec independence will turn Canada into a North American Pakistan, which itself will then further facture in the East like Bangladesh to become the poorest nation in Asia.

    Ontario will NEVER fall in line behind the Calgary Oil Barons who take their marching orders from Houston, and they will likewise seek their independence, and return to Upper Canada and Lower Canada vis a vis Quebec.

    That leaves western Canada to be turned into an American protectorate like Puerto Rico, where the money can flow out of the country, but Canadians living here will not have the vote on their own affairs.

    What a sad end to a great country.

    If you do not believe that this scenario is likely, just watch how Harper and his professor Ted Morton start to alienate Quebecers in order to get the resources of Western Canada without paying for it.

    But this is not the first time in history that a "leader" gained power without winning a democratic decision from the majority of people. The author of Mein Kampf produced the road map on how to achieve this sort of result.

    Look for Harper to build concentration camps and watch him turn the CBC into a Propaganda Ministry where geologists in Calgary will have to swear under oath that the Earth is 5,000 years old in order to keep their jobs.

    It was no different for Geologists in Joseph Stalin's time.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:21 a.m.  

  • OMG Joe Green with all your fears and conspiracy theories how the hell do you get up each day? To quote Seinfeld, "shouldn't you be on a ledge somewhere"?

    Throwing around words like dictator and fascist, and then referencing Mein Kampf is totally insane and just stupid. I really hope you're remembering to take your meds. You sound way more dangerous than the person you are describing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:09 a.m.  

  • Go and look up the dictionary meaning of the term "fascist". Its a highly centralized form of government with very few people making all the decisions.

    My reference to dictator is also from the dictionary. Its a form of government where the leader can force the resignation of the entire leadership of the RCMP.

    As for my reference to Mein Kampf, the reference is to the use of propaganda and the Big Lie. The statement that the F35 would only cost $75 million is a "Big Lie" intended to mislead and deceive.

    As an aside, if you read about the history of the Third Reich, you will know that Hitler rose to power because the Conservatives thought they could control him. They were wrong, just like Mr. MacKay was wrong in betraying the Progressive Conservatives in his midst.

    One last point, why are you afraid to actually address the points raised in my post about the future course of Quebec separtism that has been unleashed by this election???

    Are you afraid, or do you simply lack the ability to imagine a future consequence of a lot of carelessness on the part of Canadian voters???

    By Blogger Unknown, at 2:27 a.m.  

  • Many were happy and relieved to see the defeat of the pompous Mark Holland. If only Bob Rae and Justin Trudeau had lost. In the West, the name "Trudeau" is still poison. That was the start of the long decline of the Liberal brand: Pierre Trudeau. First he antagonized the West, then kissed off Quebec when patriating the Constitution. There is more to Canada than Toronto and Montreal.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:15 a.m.  

  • Anon 3:15 AM: "There is more to Canada than Toronto and Montreal."

    Yeah, there's downtown Vancouver and rural Newfoundland too!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:23 a.m.  

  • The attack ads were disgusting and unconscionable but Ignatieff, though intelligent and decent, would never appeal to many Canadians. In my opinion Gerard Kennedy played a major role in the erosion of the Liberal party. When he lost the leadership race he threw his considerable support behind Dion, who clearly was destined to fail, in hopes that he would win the leadership on the next go-round. As we know, his plans were foiled but much damage was done.

    By Blogger The Nag, at 7:45 a.m.  

  • What a load of crap to blame Kennedy for where the Liberal Party is now!

    He was one of the few people willing to put in the time to truly re-build the Party, when the back room boys just wanted power.

    Who would have been a better choice: Rae, Dion, Ignatieff?????
    All were problematic.

    Maybe, the Liberals should have chosen Kennedy in the first place!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 a.m.  

  • Actually, it’s a total waste of time for the current Liberal MPs to even attend Parliament. They will not be listened to at all by anyone there.

    Liberals should start by boycotting a Parliament that is not legitimate. Most people who voted did NOT vote for this result. In my view, the Liberals should keep pounding on that one single nail and keep driving home that point over and over again. The Party should develop its own web based media capacity, and it should not even grant Harper the legitimacy by attending Parliament.

    If Liberals spent the next four years rebuilding the Party in Quebec and Ontario and the Maritimes, we would all be better off then trying to reason with a control freak.

    Finally, there is every possible chance that Quebec is going to call a referendum and finalize their departure from Canada. That is what the Liberal Party should actually be focused on trying to prevent.

    I’m not at all confident at this late stage that we can actually prevent this from happening, but helping Jean Charest defeat the separatists is probably the single most important job that the Liberal Party of Canada actually faces today.

    That is why Justin Trudeau is probably the best positioned to actually lead this fight to save Canada. The Liberals are going to have to somehow convince Quebecers that if they stay, there will be a massive overhaul in Ottawa to prevent such highly polarized results that gets nothing done for Quebec or the rest of the Country.

    For the Liberals to be debating in Parliament is rather like trying to tell Benito Mussolini that his brand of corporate fascism is not a good idea. These neocons are right wing fanatics that do not wish to debate anything.

    So I say the Liberal MPs should spend their time in Quebec trying to shore up the Premier there to prevent a Separatist Referendum, because this time even a clear question will win, given what Harper is doing to Quebec and the rest of Canada.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:12 a.m.  

  • One last detail. Why should the Liberals attend a Parliament that is led by a PM that has been found in Contempt of Parliament???

    Liberals should embrace a functioning and simplified form of proportional representation, prove that it will work in preventing the kind of undemocratic result that has taken place last Monday, and the Party should not stop until it has accomplished this task. The NDP supports proportional representation, but they will not be listened to any more than the Liberals will be listened to.

    This attack on the fascists should be paralleled with an attack on their effort to cripple opposition parties as further evidence of Harper's essential undemocratic nature.

    Concentration of force is a principle of war, and that is what we actually face for the next four or five years.

    I am not even confident that Harper will allow an election in four or five years time. Fascists are not democratic.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 11:26 a.m.  

  • you can thank Dalton McGuinty for the collapse of the Libs in ON. & by no way was this an endorsement for Harper, it was completely the opposite. It was a protest by the people of ON on McGuinty's policies.

    & by the way, why do you cocksuckers always vote CON in AB. I hope the tarsands poison every single one of you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • Gee, Anonymous, as an Albertan NDP supporter why don't you go screw yourself?

    Alberta's been historically treated like trash by the Libs and NDP over decades, and many Albertans feel that the Conservatives are representative of not only their views but their national interest.

    Do I agree with them? Obviously not. There's definitely a portion of voters who vote blue blindly, but at least there is a portion who have opinions that have at least been thought through.

    Here in the west, the NDP have quite a bit of respect as they are seen to represent a lot of values that, if money was no object, people here can totally get behind. The party is viewed as representing the positive spirit of the prairies. They are viewed, however, as being fiscally irresponsible, which is their largest barrier to popularity here.

    The Liberals, on the other hand, have an insurmountable obstacle here -- ask almost any person here, and they'll tell you that the Liberals are synonymous with support for the East as the complete exclusion of the West. They are the poster child for western alienation and everything that goes with it. No matter how good their policies are, at the moment the Liberal brand is completely worthless here. It will take generations before the NEP and everything that happened well before my time are washed away.

    Perhaps in twenty years people will be more interested in Liberals here again. In the meantime if the NDP do well the next five years, we could see some stronger breakthroughs.

    I guess my point is, is that there are reasons why people vote the way they do here and calling them "cocksuckers" only perpetuates that rift.

    By Anonymous Daniel, at 5:02 p.m.  

  • Joe: I'm from Québec. Charest is unpopular because of corruption issues. Trudeau is still a toxic name for the swing voters (nationalists ambivalent about sovereignty). Having the federal Liberals and Trudeau "help" Charest defeat the PQ is the dream of every separatist.

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 2:05 a.m.  

  • This cannot really work, I feel so.

    By Anonymous www.webhablada.es, at 3:37 a.m.  

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