Steelcitygrit [in exile]

Ruminating on all things Canadian and political.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ignatieff as Deputy Leader

Dion's naming of Michael Ignatieff as Deputy Leader was a great move, and I greet it with full approval. This is a man who garnered 45% of the vote of delegates at the convention to be leader, and more importantly, is an expert in a variety of public affairs, with an outstanding potential to be an effective MP. I think Dion's logic makes the most sense, having the most qualified people closest to him. And anyone who has watched Question Period recently, would probably agree that Ignatieff is likely to turn into a real force against Harper. Perhaps it is not unexpected, but I do believe he could have done otherwise without widespread unrest. The fact is, before the leadership race, before any camps, I was happy to have Ignatieff in this party, and I'm happy to have him up front. Look at our front bench now!

As for all this talk about the Art of War, well, it seems pretty illogical to me. The logical thing for Dion to do, if he were worrying purely about his "enemies" and viewed Ignatieff as such, would be to diminish his profile, as realistically as he could, not to put him in a position to potentially "outshine" the leader himself (assuming the factionalism people are referring to were present and people looked at it as a contest). No, if anything I'd say he took a chance in that strategic sense, but I have a higher opinion of Ignatieff and this team then to worry about all that.

What Dion did do is take someone who is eminently qualified, who could be a great ally, and put him where he belongs, helping this party stand up to the Conservatives.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Speaker of the House

Has anyone else noticed, over the last couple of years, how hilarious Peter Milliken is? On the one hand, I think the behaviour is so out of hand that perhaps something more could be done. I'm not really sure whether he could be more effective at that or not. I'll let someone else judge that. What I will judge is that in his own way, and you have to appreciate the bizarreness of this middle-aged man in the most staid of public roles making sarcastic cracks all the time (not that he's unprofessional, among the chanting and screaming), he is very amusing. Yet I'm convinced no one but me notices.

My particular favourites are when he refers to something along the lines of "please, the minister surely can't wait to hear what the member opposite has to say" or Wednesday's "it seems the holiday spirit has taken hold of some of the honourable members."

This is what you could call an exam weariness kind of post. There are actually quite a few matters in this party that have me pretty serious, but I also have very little time. Anyway,if strange cartoons of presidents weirdly morphed onto various things can cut it on Liblogs, than this is tops.

Turning forward the tide of Millikens, one post at a time.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Red Green

Interesting piece about Elizabeth May:

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is leaping to the defence of her newly elected counterpart from the federal Liberals, insisting she can work with Stephane Dion to challenge the policies of the Conservative government.

''If they try to smear him and say that he's somehow associated with past Liberal corruption, they're just barking up the wrong tree,'' said May in an interview on Wednesday. ''If they try to say he was anything other than a very strong environment minister, they're making it up.''

This speaks to a general impression I have formed of her. At the convention she appeared on a Paul Martin tribute video and said his speech at the climate change conference in Montreal brought her to tears, and that she had never been more proud to be Canadian.

What a remarkable and refreshing thing. A third party that actually has an interesting in doing something. A third party that is concerned with ends over means, accomplishments over self-serving illusions (ex. "Liberal, Tory, same old story").

The last Decima poll had the Greens 2 percentage points behind the NDP, if memory serves. I hope that trend continues. The Left is already destabilized and has always been - so the destabilizer might as well be someone with a constructive point. It'd make for a nice change.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Dion's Tuesday

Good Decision. Don't pander to that emotionalism for one second. It's interesting that Gilles Duceppe takes a more liberal approach on this issue of citizenship, identity and belonging than does Jack Layton.

Not Great Decision. We are the party of the Charter. That means we don't believe it's up to parliamentarians to determine what rights are protected when. We mean to take that decision out of their hands. We don't put onus on our political leadership to talk Canadians into upholding rights. If there is ever a vote to whip, it's one like this.

Having said that, it's clear that this is purely strategic. By allowing a free vote we don't allow Harper to obscur the issue with that red herring ("muzzling MPs") come election time. I have difficutly arguing with that logic. It's just too bad that we have to play these games.


$125 million cut from indigenous language preservation programs is a big deal, and it should command at least one question period. Canada gets the importance of language - particularly founding languages upon which identity is largely based. So let Prentice/Oda have it - they deserve it.

Monday, December 04, 2006


"[Stephane Dion] is a man who is, if I may say so across the partisan divide, distinct from his principal opponents in being a committed Canadian and a man of principle and conviction.

And therefore almost certain not to be elected leader of the Liberal party."

- Jack Layton

Surely I'm not the only one to dig up that quote, but I'm mentally exhausted and not feeling clever.

Final thoughts on the convention? I'm afraid that if I start I'll never stop. But quickly, nevertheless:

- Am I happy? Yes, absolutely. Today I've stepped away from the race itself and put everything back in context. This is a better party than it was when the marathon began. I felt three days ago that Kennedy or Ignatieff would've meant more radical renewal and progressiveness. I haven't changed my mind. But I am happy, nevertheless.

- It unfolded exactly, as far as I'm concerned, as it was most likely to. I was given the impression that there would be some intangible convention quality that could send it in any direction. Ultimately, though, the result was near-mathematically logical. The only surprise was how uniform Kennedy supporters moved. I went from Kennedy to Ignatieff but I was in a tiny minority. 91% delivered!

- I end this journey only more concerned with the Convention process. Not to be a Debby Downer - it's just absurd. People who voted for Kennedy (during Super Weekend) didn't vote for Dion, but that was the result. We lost the motion to move to a one member, one vote system. This is funny onto itself: we posit that party decisions are made by a small elite and that should change, then look for our mandate for change from that same small elite. They said no. Democracy in action, eh?

- Notwithstanding the above, what an amazing time I had! To share a room with 3 prime ministers, one future prime minister, the son of our greatest prime minister - not to mention the Romeo Dallaires, Mark Lalondes, etc. etc. Chretien's speech made the party feel invincible. Justin Trudeau made us feel that we can only get better.

- Visit . This is exactly what I wanted to see emerge. This is why the Liberal party is the national institution that has presided over every major challenge in this country's history. No one seems to notice that we said an angry 'no' to the candidate with infinitely the most ambitious environmental platform. Regardless, by the 4th ballot the environment had won either way. We are the Red Green party.