Thursday, July 20, 2006

Cone of Silence - Day 9

Warren has his National Post article about the positions of various Liberal Leadership contenders on the current Middle East conflict up on his site.

He has quotes from seven of the candidates and it makes for an interesting read. He also has a couple old Ignatieff statements, provided by his staff. I don't mean to dwell on Ignatieff's silence, but even a few of his supporters are saying it's time for Michael to weigh in on the topic.

Perhaps he was out of the country for a bit and I suppose that's fair since even politicians can use a vacation every now and then (some more than others). However, looking at Iggy's schedule, he was in BC yesterday and even if his European vacation is running longer than planned, (Update: I can't read. My bad. Iggy's still in Europe.) I presume there's a telephone, fax machine, or carrier pigeon nearby. This is a man who has studied the Middle East for decades and is certainly well aware of the situation there; I'm sure he could have formulated a well reasoned statement in a limited amount of time.

For those who say that it's not the role of opposition MPs to comment, the fact is that Ignatieff, along with ten other Liberals, are being veted and scrutinized for the role they would do as opposition leader and Prime Minister. Surely their opinion in the Middle East is relevant because it does seem that the Prime Minister of Canada will be dealing with Middle East conflict for the next, oh I don't know, ten thousand years. It's also important to judge how they can handle an immediate conflict which requires a quick response.

UPDATE: Carolyn Bennett did make a lengthy statement yesterday, which I missed. And Maurizio has a statement on his website. And Hedy has a statement on her website.

So that's 10.

UPDATE: The rumour is that Michael is dealing with some family issues in Europe. I still think he should have released a statement but this does explain the silence a little bit more. I look forward to hearing what he has to say on this when he returns to Canada.


  • Well done CG,

    I'm ashamed that Iggy has not said anything about this issue. I think it's very important to sound off on what candidates think because as you point out, they could be sitting in the decision chair one day.

    Brison, who I normally can't stand, has shown he has very smart foreign policy views and I am pleased with what several of the other candidates said in Kinsella's piece, except for Martha who really reamed into Israel itsems.

    Anywho, great post.

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 4:07 p.m.  

  • Perhaps you could infer his position from earlier writings, as Kinsella did. I realise this is a lot of work, but the fact that his opinions have been laid bare over the years means that he doesn't have to make something up now like, say, Gerard Kennedy.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 4:46 p.m.  

  • Also, he was not in BC yesterday, as a proper reading of that campaign entry would suggest.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 4:46 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:02 p.m.  

  • I'm not sure I understand this rush of the other leaders to come up with their views on this (in some cases taking a week to think about it for the first time apparently) just because a journalist has said 'let's see you jump for me'.

    Kinsella actually wrote a good column and he had a larger point as well.

    But as others have said on other sites, Bill Graham is the Leader of the Party right now and he or maybe the foreign affairs critic should be the only ones rushing out in front of the cameras to make statements for the party. If 11 candidates jump up every time then we really will have no unity and therefore no effectiveness in Parliament.

    Especially if the man is dealing with a personal issue as some have suggested.

    Also interesting that there is no expressed "shame" or "silence is deafening" or "cone of silence - day 9" comments for the others who have not jumped at Kinsella's command, notably almost half of the field of candidates.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:05 p.m.  

  • Peter:

    7/19 "Michael Ignatieff Returning to British Columbia for second July visit"

    That was his schedule for yesterday. Presumably by the end of the day he was in BC. At the very least, he's in BC today.

    And while Kinsella infered his position, his position was that "when a democracy is attacked, it should defend itself". That would be infered as a 100% pro-Israel position. Given how complicated the current situation is, I think it would be extremelly unfair to base his opinion on this conflict from past writings. It's a very complex situation and I'm sure Ignatieff will have a very well reasoned responsed based on the current outlook.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:05 p.m.  

  • CG:

    Go ahead and click on the link which will tell you that he is going to BC at the end of the month. The press release was issued yesterday, which is why it has yesterday's date on it.

    Some of us don't think it's complicated or too complex, by the way, to stand four square behind a democracy when it is being attacked by a terrorist organization within a failed state.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 5:16 p.m.  

  • "2006.07.19

    On the heels of a very successful first leg of his British Columbia Summer tour, Michael Ignatieff's BC Campaign team is pleased to confirm Michael will be returning for a second July visit later this month. Details will be announced in the coming days."

    I echo Mr. Loewen in saying that a proper reading of the article shows that Iggy was not in BC yesterday; rather, he will be visiting the province in the upcoming two weeks. The date of July 19th only refers to the date the article was posted.

    By Blogger Michelle L., at 5:29 p.m.  

  • jen & Peter; I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out.

    Regardless, I cannot immagine that Michael has gone into hiding in Europe. I assume he still communicates with his campaign team on a daily basis.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:35 p.m.  

  • Yes, and that explains the statement they issued yesterday. You know, the one which explains his position.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 5:36 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • Ignatieff is in Hungary today not BC.

    A staffer with whom I have a good relationship has confirmed that he is with his mother who is quite ill.

    I'll have more later on Cerberus.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:38 p.m.  

  • Peter; Maybe Ignatieff is behind Israel 100% and if that's his stand, then so be it.

    However, I think it's unfair to put words into his mouth based on past comments of previous conflicts.

    Because this is a new and unique situation, it would be nice to see his stand on it.

    Cerberus; There are 3 other candidates who have yet to comment: Bevilacqua, Bennett, and Fry. They should all comment. But the fact is, none of them will win the leadership and it's clearly not their area of expertise. If there was a massive controversy around a medical issue in Canada, I'd be very curious to see Bennett and Fry'd take on it, because of their experience in the field and it would be odd if they didn't comment.

    Part of being a Prime Minister is making time sensitive decisions and reading foreign conflicts quickly. For an Academic paper you can wait a year and write a full sysnopsis of what happened, but people expect their leaders to have a quick response.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:40 p.m.  

  • To paraphrase Brian Mulroney, Michael Ignatieff's silence is, "an avowal of failure." Ignatieff had an option, he could have done better. Iggy chose what to say and what not to say and he chose unwisely. He will pay politically for this. As I recall during the Afghanistan debate Ignatieff never said, "go read what I have written, its all there, you'll figure it out." This is a stupid, stupid, stupid, unnecessary blunder on his part. Is this the kind of leader he wants to be? The "read what I've written" leader!?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 5:43 p.m.  

  • reallly his mother is Canadian and doesn't live in Hungary and I heard from a staffer that his mother in law was dead.

    Everyone else is still campaigning so they aren't MIA Cerberus. Dryden was In TBAy yesterday at a BBQ.

    Something sounds fishy to me.

    By Blogger S.K., at 5:44 p.m.  

  • Ignatieff position or dithering, even non existance of a direct comment/statement on the crisis shows something very clearly.

    Ignatieff = Mr. Dithers II

    If Iggy becomes leader us Liberals will be in opposition for a while.

    By Blogger Davenport Liberal, at 5:45 p.m.  

  • Yeah how about his position on Iraq. How about we just use his old statements. Or his position on being an American. How about we just use his old statements. Or his position on Coercive Interrogation. How about we just use his old statements.

    No. This has been repeatedly attacked by his campaign as unfair, so why now should we use his old statements for anything? HMMM?

    By Blogger S.K., at 5:49 p.m.  

  • peter; They gave several old statements to Warren and he included one in an article. If they sent out a press release or posted them on their website saying "this is Michael's stand", I think that would be a perfectly acceptable course of action, especially if there are family circumstances.

    However, I think it's unfair to Ignatieff to use one old statement to extrapolate his entire position. When people have done that for things like torture, it's been brutal and misconstrued his entire position. I'd rather not see the same thing done again.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:50 p.m.  

  • Glad to see detective Shoshana smells something fishy.

    Can someone please explain to me what was unclear about Ignatieff's statements given to Kinsella? His campaign has issued opinions in the context of this conflict with the clear intention of them stating his position. This is far different from the practice of half-wits reading and misconstruing his previous writings, most often out of context.

    Incidentally, I for one don't think that the principle that a democracy can defend itself against a terrorist orgnization acting from a failed state needs to be reconsidered and nuanced each time an attack is launched.

    By Blogger Peter Loewen, at 5:51 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 6:20 p.m.  

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    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 6:21 p.m.  

  • CG: I agree with you that a past statement should not be the full and only response to a present and new situation. I also agree that there is some difference between him not responding and others.

    But, come on:
    - the Leader of the Party has spoken for the Liberals on this
    - there is no pressing need in any remote way for a statement on this issue especially when he is with a very ill mother in law
    - we have plenty of examples of what his general position is on Israel and the Middle East (which is no replacement for a position on this specific issue but does go to the heart of choosing a leader since it is their overall policy position that counts)
    - his opinion will not save a single life or make things easier over there or affect Canadians in any way

    I have to say I'm quite surprised by how callous people are being on this. And I am not one to throw negative comments at others around too lightly.

    Besides, if it's a position you want from a leader, can you please tell me what Kennedy or Dion or anyone but Brison would do if they were PM? The rush to make policy statements out of fear of being criticized by a pundit/blogger has generated a bunch of meaningless pablum statements. Do we really know anything more about the candidates who rushed to Kinsella's press deadline?


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 6:24 p.m.  

  • Cerberus; Leaders get criticized all the time for being too slow in their response to situations. Usually making a statement won't save any lives, you're right, but it's something they need to do. I don't think anyone else rushed to make a statement - this has been going on for 9 days; I think it's reasonable to expect a comment by now. I'd also like to re-emphasize that I think Ignatieff could come up with a well reasoned written statement in an hour given his background.

    Maybe there are personal circumstances involved. But I think it's best not to spread rumours about stuff like that over the Internet and I know people on the Ignatieff campaign who are really upset with some of the rumours being writen up on blogs.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 6:33 p.m.  

  • Bah, non-sequiter Ignatieff-bashing is getting old.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 7:18 p.m.  

  • Cerberus,

    I'm not asking him to speak for Liberals. I'm asking him to speak for himself, which shouldn't really be terribly difficult given his background.

    This man can't possibly expect to govern a country when he can't issue a statement on his area of expertise after 9 days of conflict, that has engrossed the entire planet.

    Sorry, read my previous generic comment put into this context by my staff is a sorry excuse for a position and is not worthy of a leadership candidate with his expertise.

    Actually Jason, its obviously Iggy that's getting tired and showing he doesn't have the mettle for the job, which is 24/7 by the way.

    By Blogger S.K., at 7:38 p.m.  

  • "I'm not sure I understand this rush of the other leaders to come up with their views on this"

    The Leader of the Liberal Party has given public statements on this issue (although in my mind he was very wrong to suggest that Canada legitimize Hezbollah and their actions).

    But there is a fair expectation of leadership candidates to demonstrate their readiness to act as a Leader would. Yet some would seem to suggest that they'd prefer all the candidates to answer only, "I support the Party Line on this matter", and presumably select whomever looks great in front of the cameras.

    I would expect to read a fair amount of support and criticism of each candidate's position over the coming days, here and elsewhere.

    By Blogger Paul, at 7:38 p.m.  

  • I do admit that this whole issue is kind of funny. First of all it's not as if Canada has any abilty to do anything more than release a statement on the middleeast that will go ignored by the rest of the world and the countries in the region particularly because it's not as if Canada has any significant role to play in Isreal or Lebanon or Syria or Iran. It's just an empty gesture. Canada could state that we beilve Isreal needs to make more rainbows and no one would pay attention.

    Adding to the fact that a statement by the Canadain government means nothing, is the next fact that the Liberal party is not the government, nor are any of the leadership contenders the leader of the official opposition, so their statements mean less than nothing. To add a sureal touch to the whole thing we also have nobodies like Findly and Brison making statements. I'm sure everyone in the middleeast is on pins and needles waiting for Hedy Fry to save the world with a statement.

    It's hard for Canadians to admit, but decades of military cuts and cuts to the foreign service budget has made Canada as important in the middle east as Panama or some other random unimportant fringe player.

    Let's have the leadership contenders go back to making empty statements about things they can control in the country.

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 8:35 p.m.  

  • Its not funny Manitoba Liberal.

    It is of crucial importance to know what Leadership candidates think about the events in the Middle East.

    We do want one of them to be Prime MInister right?

    This is Ignatieff claim to fame after all that he is the guru of Human Rights and conflict on the planet. I guess NOT.

    By Blogger S.K., at 9:15 p.m.  

  • S.B., if writing meaningless statements is the crux of being a Liberal PM, then we will be in the opposition benches for a long long time.

    You are now a Ken Dryden supporter, having dumped Kennedy. Tell me, just what can we tell about his leadership abilities by his "yes sir, Mr. Kinsella, here's my statement, sir, Mr. Kinsella" important sounding Statement on the Middle East?

    OK, great, now we know that:

    (1) Canadians have reacted with sadness to the civilian casualties in Israel, Lebanon and Gaza and to the tragic deaths of Montreal’s El-Akhrass family.

    (2) A government should protect its citizens. [Unfortunately, he left out that minor detail about how in this context. Maybe move our troops from Afghanistan to Lebanon even though no one wants us there?]

    (3) We should help people.

    (4) We should ask the UN to help people.

    (5) We should get the G-8 to help people.

    (6) Oh, before I forget and before someone thinks I'm "taking sides", I'm sure the Israeli government and people around the world will be comforted to know that I support Israel’s right to exist. [Question: Has any Canadian, US, UK leader anywhere anytime questioned their right to exist?]

    (7) We should all try to get along and find a lasting peace.

    (8) We, Canada, should be good neighbours.

    Um, ok. That was worth 3 minutes of my time.

    I actually like Dryden quite a lot, but I really don't like leadership that issues statements for the sake of issuing statements, especially when they have no purpose and no substance.

    Other than Brison and Rae, really, none of the other's are really any different. That's leadership? That's what you decide a leader on?

    We're in bigger trouble than I thought.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 9:34 p.m.  

  • I'm used to the kneejerk criticism from the left-wing echo chamber towards anything Stephen Harper does..

    .. It's nice to see that Liberals are as callous towards one another's leadership candidates as they are towards my party's leader. :)

    I'm very surpised that Ignatieff has not issued some sort of official statement on this.

    To adress a few points, I imagine that the reason is obvious that MI has been criticed for not speaking about this, while others such as, say, Hedy Fry, have not been.

    Ignatieff is a front-runner. He's one of maybe 3 people with a reasonable shot at winning. Hedy Fry (for example) is not.

    Now I'm no Ignatieff fan, but to be fair, I'm so surprised that he hasn't commented that at this point that I have the feeling that he might have a pretty good reason for not commenting.

    I'm going to give the guy (Ignatieff) the benefit of the doubt, for now. If, a week from now, I learn that he's been dealing with a death in the family or something.. I think that'll hold up as pretty good excuse.

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 10:10 p.m.  

  • On another note, Michael Ignatieff really needs to take that absurd BBQ picture down from his website. He's well into leather-vest or hairnet territory with that one. Who approved that?

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 10:12 p.m.  

  • We are all supposed to vote for this man because he such an uber brain on human rights and international affairs. Except, when it comes right down to it he can't state his postiton on Human Rights and international affairs unless he can take two years to formulate a thesis, write a book on the subject and then not be criticised.

    Well you know what, that ain't politics, it's academics! We all know what Iggy's real area of expertise is now. "Just because he can write a book, doesn't mean he can lead a country!", and you can quote me on that one.

    By Blogger S.K., at 10:45 p.m.  

  • Three final comments here before I move on:

    1. Harper has been criticized for his statement. So obviously giving a non-offensive statement which shows an understanding of the situation is something you expect in a leader.

    2. Given the controversial nature around a lot of Ignatieff's foreign policy positions, it would be really nice to see what exactly his views are. People say "look at the statement his staff gave Warren" but that statement is even more pro-Israel than anything Harper or Brison have said. I don't think it's fair to Ignatieff to go on that as his official position since someone as well read on the issue is him is sure to be able to add a few nuances.

    3. Hearing from the candidates is important. Firstly, because it tells us where they stand on the issues. Secondly, because it shows us what they'd say if they were PM (see point 1).

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:03 p.m.  

  • I'd say Ignatieff hasn't given a statement for the very reason alluded to by CG. In his heart of hearts, I'd say Ignatieff feels exactly the same way Harper does about the situation. Given the culture of the Arabs in the middle East, whether they are playing the victim or creating them, it is very hard to sympathize with people who lob rockets into civilian areas with the intent to kill indiscriminently. And lets face it....the only response the Liberals care to make is the one comparing Harper to Bush. Why would IGGY want to tell you he feels the same way as those two dudes. He's lose either way...if he makes an honest statement, the other leadership candidates will be comparing him to Bush....and if he lies and passes around a bunch of moral claptrap that means nothing....he will be just like the rest of the Liberals' candidates.
    He's screwed either way.

    Hungary is the safer choice.

    By Blogger James Halifax, at 11:51 p.m.  

  • And my fuller comments are now up here.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 12:34 a.m.  

  • S.B

    It is funny because Canada has next to no role to play in the middle east. We can be the biggest supporters of Isreal if we want to and it won't matter at all, or we could tweak the U.S's nose and say Isreal is acting crazy and is the agressor and it still would not matter.

    Canada is not a world power, we have no infulence in the middle east and despite myth's to the contrary, we never did outside of a few months in 1956 when the U.S allowed us mess around with our former colonial masters.

    I would rather the leadership candidates talk about issues that they might actually have some control over, instead of seeing Hedy Fry or Ken Dryden pretend to be world statesmen/woman that can solve a thosand year old fight.

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 2:49 a.m.  

  • What namely you are writing is a horrible mistake.

    By Anonymous muebles cordoba, at 4:57 a.m.  

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