Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What does Ignatieff mean for Canadian Politics?

The Liberals have now crowned Ignatieff as their leader, what will this mean for Canada?

There is a good interview by Terry Glavin with him from 2006. There is also this Anne Kingston piece from Maclean's in 2006.

The NDP and Liberals will be completely out of sync with each other because of foreign policy. An Ignatieff lead Liberal party will be supportive of using Canadian troops like they have been in Afghanistan. He has signed the Euston Manifesto - a strong interventionist statement for human rights. As much as people may hate to hear this, something that is supportive of the sort of foriegn policy practiced by Clinton and then furthered by Bush. He believes the global left should be supportive of the use of force to change things, that the era of Peacekeeping is gone.

Ignatieff is also a supporter of more global free trade and see it as force for reducing global poverty. He sees the biggest improvement in human rights coming from 500 000 000 Chinese being lifted out of absolute poverty in the last 15 years.

He is clearly in favour of free markets but believes in the role of the state to provide for the people. Economically I do not see much common ground between him and the federal NDP on this issue.

The idea of a coalition is dead with Ignatieff as leader and this is a good thing for the Liberals and governance in Canada. It may mean the end of Jack Layton as leader of the NDP.

Can he manage a political party? That to me is the $64 000 question. To come so late in life to politics and then seek the top job in a political party in turmoil and decline takes a lot of hubris. Jean Chretien succeeded because he is a skilled player of the game of politics. Paul Martin was born into the game but could not succeed. I would say the odds are against Ignatieff succeeding.

He has a party that needs to be rebuild from the ground up and he has become leader without any input from the members. He needs to build a coalition of supporters together that will reflect his vision for Canada. He also has to figure out how the party will raise the money it needs to seriously run an election.

My final thought, politics is a blood sport - can his ego handle what is coming?


Terry Glavin said...

Further to your point about Ignatieff and the NDP:

". . . you also have to remember that the most bitter fights in modern politics are actually between liberals and anybody to the left."

- M.Ignatieff, 2006.


Anonymous said...

Unless there is a sharp shift in the electorate to the right, and this isn't in evidence, having the left of the spectrum to themselves is good for the NDP electorally. In terms of organization, such as money, seats, stable leadership, they are probably in their best position compaired to the liberals in decades and this limits the effect of "unite the left" appeals from the Liberals.

Iggy's election or non-election as Liberal leader is probably the best news the NDP could have gotten and gives them their once every two decades opening, on schedule, to try to supplant the Liberals as Canada's main left wing party. Its possible to envision a situation a few elections from now when the Liberals are the third party, competitive in the Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver areas, and some Atlantic ridings, and elsewhere its a straight CPC - NDP or CPC - Bloc fight. The NDP would then be in the position the Conservatives were six years ago, the obvious alternative but still very weak in some parts of the country.

This could be avoided if Iggy displays unexpectedly strong leadership skills, but the situation for the NDP is better than if they were propping up an unweildy and unpopular coalition. The other Liberal leadership contenders were less likely to cede so much ground on the left.