Monday, October 12, 2009

Because There Weren't Enough Opinions Out There

I'll throw another log on to the fire. Michael Ignatieff is going through what almost all Leaders of Her Majesty's Official Opposition go through. This is both true and a truism. The problem for Ignatieff is not the current abysmal poll numbers, but the political position he's gotten himself into. It all started when he decided the only person who could be interim leader was himself. Now, I understand that hindsight is 20/20 but think this through. The 2009 budget was always going to be fairly unopposable for the Liberal Party of Canada. A stimulus was beyond necessary and the Conservatives wanted to do it. Thus, Ignatieff had to support budget. The problem was he had to support the budget while showing himself to be different than Stephane Dion. That was no mean feat. Dion had both been too weak as leader (all those abstentions added up in the public's mind) and too strong in the wake of his defeat in the 2008 election (coalitions are not a very Canadian concept). Ignatieff had to neither abstain nor threaten to defeat the government. Thus, the absurdity of putting the government "on probation." While people thought it brilliant at the time, it trapped Ignatieff politically. The Tories called his bluff. They didn't live up to the demands they didn't want to live up to and forced Ignatieff first in June and then in the fall to threaten the government with defeat less than a year after their election. At this point, there's very little room for Michael Ignatieff to back away from the edge of the cliff. The only thing stopping from falling off the edge is Jack Layton and the empty pockets of the NDP. That's not really a tenable position for a Liberal leader.

The other part of his problem is that he's just spent a significant amount of money on putting bad advertisements on the air. Adds that frankly are just cause for derision. With the self-proclaimed prince of darkness back on the scene, I have to wonder why Ignatieff didn't go negative in English. I know he went negative in French, taking the absurd step of doing it himself but 233 out of 308 ridings didn't see those ads. It will be interesting to see whether there's any follow-up to the Liberal Party's great second quarter fundraising totals. I'm skeptical. Remember how much fanfare accompanied the good news? We are now weeks past the end of the third quarter, no fanfare. It may come, I'm not holding my breath. If the party spent all of its money on bad ads, Ignatieff won't have the capital to earn himself new political capital. As I said at the outset, he could recover from this; opposition leaders have a little bit of Lazarus in them. I just wouldn't want to be in his position right now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think year over year the Liberals are in a much better position. I'm sure Ignatieff would have taken Harper down in the spring if he had the money and an election platform ready but because of the abysmal years leading up to this spring those were not available.

Fundraising news will be interesting. In early September fundraising reportedly increased after declaring non-confidence in Harper and the cons and hopefully there will be $ for further advertising (if jobs continue to struggle they should go negative in a big way on Harper and try to tie it in with the environment since it is a 'social' issue that they could definately gain ground with).

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