Iggy is iffy

Lana
Lana Payne
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The federal Liberals have a big, big problem - their leader.

And no, this is not a recycled column about Stephane Dion.

Michael Ignatieff needs to quickly - and I mean quickly - figure out what he needs to do to get Canadians to like him. Because Canadians desperately want a prime minister they can like again.

And they are probably unlikely to trade in one guy they don't especially like for another guy who doesn't tickle their fancy. It's one of those "the devil-you-know" scenarios.

The federal Liberals have a big, big problem - their leader.

And no, this is not a recycled column about Stephane Dion.

Michael Ignatieff needs to quickly - and I mean quickly - figure out what he needs to do to get Canadians to like him. Because Canadians desperately want a prime minister they can like again.

And they are probably unlikely to trade in one guy they don't especially like for another guy who doesn't tickle their fancy. It's one of those "the devil-you-know" scenarios.

And so far, Iggy, as he is fondly known, hasn't given Canadians much to work with - despite his impressive credentials, his brains and his ties to U.S. President Barack Obama.

The past few weeks have been quite damaging for the Liberal leader. Instead of impressing Canadians with his leadership abilities, he impressed on us just how unimpressive he is.

After an uneventful summer where he was mostly ignored by the media, the former Harvard professor decided enough was enough and came out of the woods ready for an election. Or so he thought. If anything Ignatieff's election readiness is highly debatable. Need we say anything more than Denis Coderre?

The problem: Canadians are election-weary, including some of his own MPs. Too many Canadians are just not looking forward to another trip to the polls - even if they are less than enamoured with the current prime minister.

What Canadians want is for Parliamentarians to do what they were elected to do - make minority government work.

This, of course, is difficult when the prime minister does not really want minority government to work. Stephen Harper's contempt for the democratic wishes of Canadians who have consistently voted for minority governments is not helping. It merely fuels the anger and apathy so many feel towards Ottawa these days.

But so far, Harper appears to have learned one thing from his attempt last fall to goad the opposition parties: Canadians are not fond of poison pills.

The NDP's decision not to force an election this fall likely saved the Liberal leader from a very short political career, almost as short as his predecessor.

Quite frankly, Iggy blew it. No doubt he was trying to show Canadians that he could be strong and decisive and if he happened to squeeze the NDP in the process, all the better.

But according to the polls, Iggy's political gamble didn't pay off. The Liberals are now trailing the Harper Conservatives by double digits - 28 per cent to 41 per cent. They also reveal that the Liberal leader may have more problems than just pushing for an election with no good reason - except for the fact that he wants to be prime minister.

Women, usually counted on as a critical source of support for the Liberals, are not that inspired by Michael Ignatieff. Better to know this now, while he and the party have a little time rather than in the middle of an election campaign. The real problem is Canadians do not know Michael Ignatieff. We know he is smart. We know he writes books. We know, like the current prime minister, he prefers the word "I" to "we." We know he has friends in high places, like the White House. We know he likely has a monstrous ego. What ambitious politician doesn't?

Yet we just do not know him. He is just not connecting with people.

We don't know what he stands for. We don't know what kind of Canada he believes in.

We don't know if he has a vision for the country. Women are starting to think he may not be progressive enough for them - and perhaps with good reason.

So far, he has let the governing Conservatives set the agenda, and shape what Canadians think of him. This was pretty much the same trap Stephane Dion fell into.

Sliding polls, possible defections, rivals jockeying for his job, and a slew of internal problems in Quebec, including the resignation of his Quebec lieutenant, make for anything but election-ready. It seems it is the Liberal leader who needs a "little help from his friends."

In the midst of all the Ottawa drama, the Liberals forgot the basics. Governments usually defeat themselves and people need something to for vote as well as against.

But perhaps Iggy's biggest problem is his lack of ideas or the fact that he isn't sharing them for fear of what the Conservative machine will do to them.

English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote that "in politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly."

Fortunate for Ignatieff, he has a little time to fix the damage. Perhaps he should thank the NDP for that.

Lana Payne is president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour. She can be reached by e-mail at lanapayne@nl.rogers.com. Her column returns Oct. 24.

Organizations: NDP, Harvard, Harper Conservatives Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour

Geographic location: U.S., Ottawa, Quebec Canada

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Recent comments

  • Ron
    July 02, 2010 - 13:29

    IGGY IS iFFy

    Iggys real name is Ignatieff
    It ends with a double FF
    The first F is for Flip
    The second F is for Flop

    Flip Flop
    On which country he calls home
    Flip Flop
    On forming a coalition

    Flip Flop
    HST is bad
    Flip Flop
    HST is good

    Flip Flop
    Coderre is good
    Flip Flop
    Coderre is bad

    Flip Flop
    Who Cares?
    Flip Flop
    Outrement is Thomas Mulcairs.

    Flip Flop
    Hes got to stop

    Flop Flip
    Hes up to his hip
    In a predicament
    Not unlike excrement

    Iggys real name has two Fs
    Both are in the middle
    Of the muddle
    It really is iFFy.

  • Gerald
    July 02, 2010 - 13:25

    Lana. are you implying that there are no i's in Layton ?

  • Leo
    July 02, 2010 - 13:23

    If Newfoundland had sent 7 Conservatives ministers back to Ottawa I doubt you would have written an article about how inept Ignatieff is.
    I wonder how much influence your seven ministers have in cabinet. Oh sorry I forgot you have none. I guess thats what happens when you follow a premiere that puts himself and his ego before his constituents. Way to go Danny and your seven If Newfoundland had sent 7 Conservatives ministers back to Ottawa I doubt you would have written an article about how inept Ignatieff is.
    I wonder how much influence your seven ministers have in cabinet. Oh sorry I forgot you have none. I guess thats what happens when you follow a premiere that puts himself and his ego before his constituents. Way to go Danny and your seven powerful ministers.

  • Taxpayer
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Liberals need to dump Iggy.

  • hollinm
    July 02, 2010 - 13:21

    Iggy is the author of his own travails. He knows nothing about politics and knows nothing about the country.

    He has made some serious mistakes and with his gunslinger talk which may be good sound bites he appears arrogant.

    He is now flop flopping about whether he will support the government.

    His poll numbers will be down to 23% this week after this major highly publicized flip flop is exposed for all to see. Lying about what he orginally said will not help him.

  • Kate
    July 02, 2010 - 13:20

    Because Canadians desperately want a prime minister they can like again.

    How dare you?

    How dare you presume to speak for the likes and dislikes of Canadians?

    We are individuals, not a collective defined by the Telegram, and it is presumptive opinion columns such as this that are leading to the wholesale rejection of mainstream journalism.

  • Phoebe Tilley
    July 02, 2010 - 13:13

    Is the Telegram reall so desperate that they have to actually print this garbage from Lana Payne? No wonder newspaper sales are down and nobody wants a Sunday paper any more. This lady needs serious help in dealing with her frustrations. Thank God I am not involved with labour unions any more. With her as head I wold quit.

  • Susan
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    What kind of kool-aid have you been sipping?
    If Iggy appeared more progressive, more women would be attracted is hogwash. Woman want strength and Iggy doesn´t have it and we naturally gravitate to Harper because he does have it, quietly, with surety.
    And quickly, I mean quickly, you managed two references to Iggy chumming around with Obama.
    What a juvenile piece of tripe.

  • Ron
    July 01, 2010 - 20:17

    IGGY IS iFFy

    Iggys real name is Ignatieff
    It ends with a double FF
    The first F is for Flip
    The second F is for Flop

    Flip Flop
    On which country he calls home
    Flip Flop
    On forming a coalition

    Flip Flop
    HST is bad
    Flip Flop
    HST is good

    Flip Flop
    Coderre is good
    Flip Flop
    Coderre is bad

    Flip Flop
    Who Cares?
    Flip Flop
    Outrement is Thomas Mulcairs.

    Flip Flop
    Hes got to stop

    Flop Flip
    Hes up to his hip
    In a predicament
    Not unlike excrement

    Iggys real name has two Fs
    Both are in the middle
    Of the muddle
    It really is iFFy.

  • Gerald
    July 01, 2010 - 20:11

    Lana. are you implying that there are no i's in Layton ?

  • Leo
    July 01, 2010 - 20:08

    If Newfoundland had sent 7 Conservatives ministers back to Ottawa I doubt you would have written an article about how inept Ignatieff is.
    I wonder how much influence your seven ministers have in cabinet. Oh sorry I forgot you have none. I guess thats what happens when you follow a premiere that puts himself and his ego before his constituents. Way to go Danny and your seven If Newfoundland had sent 7 Conservatives ministers back to Ottawa I doubt you would have written an article about how inept Ignatieff is.
    I wonder how much influence your seven ministers have in cabinet. Oh sorry I forgot you have none. I guess thats what happens when you follow a premiere that puts himself and his ego before his constituents. Way to go Danny and your seven powerful ministers.

  • Taxpayer
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Liberals need to dump Iggy.

  • hollinm
    July 01, 2010 - 20:05

    Iggy is the author of his own travails. He knows nothing about politics and knows nothing about the country.

    He has made some serious mistakes and with his gunslinger talk which may be good sound bites he appears arrogant.

    He is now flop flopping about whether he will support the government.

    His poll numbers will be down to 23% this week after this major highly publicized flip flop is exposed for all to see. Lying about what he orginally said will not help him.

  • Kate
    July 01, 2010 - 20:03

    Because Canadians desperately want a prime minister they can like again.

    How dare you?

    How dare you presume to speak for the likes and dislikes of Canadians?

    We are individuals, not a collective defined by the Telegram, and it is presumptive opinion columns such as this that are leading to the wholesale rejection of mainstream journalism.

  • Phoebe Tilley
    July 01, 2010 - 19:51

    Is the Telegram reall so desperate that they have to actually print this garbage from Lana Payne? No wonder newspaper sales are down and nobody wants a Sunday paper any more. This lady needs serious help in dealing with her frustrations. Thank God I am not involved with labour unions any more. With her as head I wold quit.

  • Susan
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    What kind of kool-aid have you been sipping?
    If Iggy appeared more progressive, more women would be attracted is hogwash. Woman want strength and Iggy doesn´t have it and we naturally gravitate to Harper because he does have it, quietly, with surety.
    And quickly, I mean quickly, you managed two references to Iggy chumming around with Obama.
    What a juvenile piece of tripe.