Wednesday, June 17, 2009


There was never going to be an election this summer. I said so a week ago...days before the last 48 hours of media-spun nail biting drama erupted on Parliament Hill. (See: "Iso-Dopes" June 10)

I am passionate about politics. It, and a passion for journalism, I owe to my mother. A typical stay at home 1950's housewife, she had never even entered a grocery store by herself when my father died suddenly in 1954, leaving her with two sons, no job or job prospects, a mortgage and car payments.

She dusted herself-off; became one of the country's first female Canada Customs Border Officers; and on those long shifts at the International border between Northern New Brunswick and Northern Maine developed a passion for the political issues she read (And subsequently discussed with me) from the office's French and English language newspapers. Enough digression.

In the bi-partisan agreement to form a 6 member panel on changes to the Employment Insurance Program reached with the Prime Minister; the Liberal Leader, Michael Ignatieff, has concluded that he has obtained the significant concession he sought to call-off the threat of a summer election. But, at what cost? Surely the drummed-up threat of a mid-summer election was hollow at its very best. No one, let alone an intelligent and articulate politician like Mr. Ignatieff wanted to trigger, and be blamed for, what with certainty would have been the most unpopular election in modern Canadian history. So what gives?

Although rare, it happens from time to time, somewhat like cream rising over the milk of platitudes; that an intellectual, a thinker, a visionary rises to shake-up the humdrum of a country's political existence. Even fewer such candidates actually make the transition to reaching a role of historic leadership. I don't know whether Mr.Ignatieff has that potential. Certainly, barring the Conservative Party "attack ads", he seems to show a level of statesmanship; the background and the aptitudes that could qualify him. The greatest danger to his success is in playing badly at the "game" of politics. On that score, I suspect that he's been getting bad advice.

I share the opinion of a timely editorial published in the "Montreal Gazette" that this week's election "dare" shows poor political acumen and that, unlike in the Tory "attack ads", this time the damage is of the Liberal Leader's own making: "Many Canadians have never liked Stephen Harper, others have been disappointed by him. So Canadians are eager to like Michael Ignatieff, but with his grandstanding about forcing a summer election, the Liberal Leader has put himself in a bad light and he seems to keep wanting to make it worse."

With this current crisis of confidence ended (yet again) - Words of wisdom that each politician should contemplate over the summer hiatus. More particularly the Leader of the Liberals, as he and his entourage contemplate their actions and re-actions heading into the fall of 2009. Canada's future and what is at stake for each of us are just too important to be reduced to a game of political checkmate as if on a Chess Board of toy soldiers and little matter.

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