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Liberal Party of Canada, Leader, Michael Ignatieff

Win one for the Iggster

By Arthur Weinreb

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

By the time next weekend ends, the Liberal Party of Canada will have chosen a new leader. For those who dream of the Natural Governing Party being permanently relegated to the fringes of Canadian politics or more realistically want to see Stephen Harper and the Conservatives return with a majority, there can only be one choice for Liberal leader – Michael Ignatieff.

Contrary to what some Canadians think, Bob Rae would be a more formidable leader of the opposition than Ignatieff could ever be. Rae has emerged as somewhat of a statesman since he was thrown out of the Ontario premier's office in 1995. And the opposition can only effectively rehash Ontario in the early 1990s for so long. Focusing on Ontario will only invite attention to the Mike Harris government that is still widely unpopular in the province and where three of his cabinet ministers (Jim Flaherty, Tony Clement and John Baird) now hold powerful positions in the cabinet of Stephen Harper.

Ignatieff on the other hand, would be easy pickings; just look at one of his latest pronouncements. The Conservatives recently proposed that those who seek bail after having been charged with a gun crime be subject to a reverse onus. They must remain in custody until trial unless they can show that they should be released on bail. This move was applauded by politicians of all stripes including Ontario's Liberal premier and Toronto's NDP mayor. Iggy on the other hand criticized it, saying that it goes against the presumption of innocence. Presumption of innocence? At bail hearings ALL accused are presumed to be innocent. Then Ignatieff commented that the courts might rule that the provision is unconstitutional. Iggy must have been sick (and of course, out of the country) the day that the Supreme Court ruled that the reverse onus provisions, if used sparingly, were constitutional. That's the main reason they still exist. Let's face it, Iggy who found Israel guilty of war crimes because he said so is hardly an expert when it comes to the presumption of innocence.

When Michael Ignatieff first surfaced as a potential leadership candidate at the party's last leadership convention he was seen as the heir apparent to Pierre Trudeau. He's no Pierre Trudeau. We all remember when Trudeau uttered a profanity in the House of Commons and then stood up, shrugged his shoulders and asked what the big deal was over the fact that he said "fuddle duddle”. No one with even one foot in reality can picture Professor Ignatieff handling the matter that way. Despite his academic brilliance he's simply not quick enough to properly handle such situations. His flip-flopping about what happened in Qana is a clear example of this. Black becomes white and everyone else is just too stupid to see it.

Ignatieff burst on the scene as the next Pierre Trudeau and quickly morphed into the next Paul Martin. But where Paul Martin dithered, Ignatieff is decisive in a Kerryesque way (Qana) or else makes pronouncements that have no correlation with the real world (proposed bail amendments). And it is an extra plus for non-Liberals that Ignatieff bears a slight resemblance to the Republican Party's dream Democratic Party presidential candidate for 2008 – John Kerry.

The Liberal Party of Canada that was once the party of Sir Wilfrid Laurier and Pierre Trudeau is now the party of Paul Martin and Belinda Stronach. The election of Michael Ignatieff as Liberal leader will keep this new tradition going. For those Canadians who do not endorse the Liberal Party's philosophy (whatever that actually is) will have a lot of fun with Iggy at the helm.

And an Ignatieff-led Liberal Party will be the best case scenario for Stephen Harper and his Conservatives to form a majority government.

So to all you Liberal delegates out there – go to Montreal and win one for the Iggster.