Ignatieff wonders wistfully, “why won’t he call me?”

Post-QP scrums today:

Richard Madan, CTV: Mr. Ignatieff, just to pick up on something else you said earlier, why don’t you pick up the phone yourself, call the Prime Minister’s Office and set up a meeting?  Why don’t you set the initiative and get the ball rolling if you really want Parliament to work.

Michael Ignatieff: Oh, come on.  We’ve made Parliament work for years and the Prime Minister knows my number and he knows what we think about corporate tax.  He knows — 

Richard Madan, CTV: Why don’t you?

Michael Ignatieff: He knows where I am.  He knows how to reach me.  We’ve worked constantly with the Prime Minister on a host of issues. I no longer need to give proof that I’m prepared to make Parliament work. I’ve made Parliament work for a very long time.  It would be good if Mr. Harper began to show that he can make Parliament work. Thank you.

So, Liberals are showing that they don’t want to be part of budget negotiations even though they say they do want to take part.

Premier Stelmach resigns – Danielle Smith and Jonathan Denis discuss

Alberta politics became interesting again yesterday when Ed Stelmach surprised his own cabinet by announcing his planned resignation from the Premier’s office. I wanted to get the Wildrose and PC view on this news so I called up both Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith and PC Minister Jonathan Denis this evening.

Danielle Smith discusses the PC leadership race and Wildrose’s direction moving forward:

Jonathan Denis discusses the Premier’s surprise resignation and how the PC leadership field is shaping up:

Harper Government Accomplishments – according to the Harper government

The Conservatives put out this document today outlining their accomplishments over the past five years.

Besides outlining the famous “five priorities” upon which the Conservatives ran their successful 2005-2006 campaign, the economy is what they’ve chosen to put in the front window featuring it first. Indeed, the issue will be on the top of mind for Canadians going into the next election (whenever that may be). The economic management of this country under the Harper government has been overall positive, though I’ve disagreed with heaping piles of treasure going towards stimulus programs and the blocking of foreign investment (see potash). However, Canada has weathered the global economic crisis much better than other member nations of the G8, and the job recovery has been strong. Further, the stimulus did not create permanent new spending measures.

On those five priorities, the Conservatives have chosen to highlight their record on bringing in the Federal Accountability Act. The policy was a reactionary one in wake of the Liberal sponsorship scandal and propelled the Conservatives right into office. In running against the Liberals in ’05-’06, the Conservatives did not only criticize but offered a real and tangible solution. As this summary document can also be seen to have present and future purpose as well, “unaccountable lobbyists” are not on the tops of minds of Canadians. Thus, while looking back, the Conservatives have focused this document on other accomplishments to build upon while they focus forward.

On taxes, this government has moved the marker in the right direction though some conservatives will disagree on specific targeted tax relief measures. Canada is on target to have the lowest corporate tax rates in the developed world by the midpoint of this decade and will have half the rate of the United States by that time. The reduction of the GST was politically salable as a anti-tax populist measure, however it did lower the overall tax burden for all Canadians including the poorest.

I think the Tories aren’t emphasizing their accomplishment on free-trade enough in this document. While not currently a ballot box issue for the main street Canadian, this government has established more bilateral trade agreements with other countries than any other in Canadian history. Free trade was why I originally became a conservative and I think that these accomplishments have been understated.

Law and order is another bread and butter issue for Conservatives. Liberal critics will say that the government has used its tough-on-crime agenda as red meat for the base while manipulating the scheduling of legislation for maximal political gain. The government has passed tougher measures on armed crime, identity theft and against sex offenders. Further, the government has moved to refocus on victim’s rights over those of criminals. Looking forward, it’s interesting to see the government take Liberal criticism on spending on new prisons and pivot bragging about the very same. Liberals are looking to make this an issue in the next election suggesting that building prison’s reflect “Stephen Harper’s Canada” (and not yours). Yet, perhaps the Liberals aren’t doing their focus testing properly because it’s fairly clear that building new prisons and tough-on-crime measures are very popular among accessible voters.

Here it the document. Let’s digest the the release in the comments:

[scribd.com — having layout problems… I’ll reupload soon]

Stephen Harper celebrates 5 years in power

The following is the speech Stephen Harper gave to supporters in Ottawa on January 23rd, 2011 to celebrate 5 years in power.

Friends, today we celebrate our fifth anniversary!

So, it’s been five years! What a day. What a time. And what a journey it has been, my friends, since the people of Canada gave us their trust!

It’s almost hard to remember what Canada looked like that winter. Back then, back in the winter of 2006,
the sponsorship scandal hung heavily in the air. Lobbyists ran Ottawa. People had lost faith in the ability – and in the integrity – of their national government. Parents were disrespected, thought more likely to spend money on beer and popcorn than take care of their children. Provinces were denied the resources to properly deliver the services they were bound to do by federal law. The votes of New Canadians were taken for granted. Victims of crime were ignored. In Quebec, support for sovereignty was surging. Our Canadian Armed Forces were neglected and demoralized. No one in the world knew where Canada stood. You could almost say that it really seemed like a Canadian winter!

So, five years ago today, on January 23, 2006 Canadians gave our Party a mandate to shake up Ottawa. We have been faithful! We have kept that trust! And we have delivered!

In a moment, friends, I will remind you of what we have accomplished together. Despite the fact that we have been a minority government, it is a long list. Nous avons accompli beaucoup de choses en cinq ans.

But, before we talk about that, let’s spend a moment – just a moment – not on the what, but upon the why. For, ours is not a party of entitlement. We’re not in Ottawa because we think we’re owed or for what we can get. If anybody is, they’re in the wrong party! For Conservatives, it is about public service and public service means private sacrifice. As it must, my friends, as it must.

So why do we do it? Why do you do it? I think you know.

We are here because we love Canada! We’re proud of Canada. Canada is, and always has been, our country. And we want Canada to be a true north that is as strong and as free as it can be, in every way that matters, the best country in the world! That’s why we’re here. That’s why we strive. That’s why we serve.

But, when we say we love Canada, what is it that we love? The snow? The ice? The 49th Parallel? The programs? The agencies? No, of course not. Those are all important things, but, as Conservatives,
we believe this: that if Canada is to be great, it must be great for Canadians.

You cannot have policies which hurt people, but are somehow good for the country. You cannot tax your way to prosperity. You cannot regulate your way to efficiency. You cannot earn respect by projecting weakness. You cannot strengthen families by insulting parents.

Shall I go on? You cannot have safe streets by shutting down prisons. You cannot build a united country by burying and rewriting its history. And my friends, this goes to the core of things: Canadians are a fair people. They want Canadian values to mean honesty, integrity and opportunity for all. And that not rewards or payoffs, not power for its own sake, is what we, as Conservatives, strive for in our national government.

So, for five years, we have been making good decisions, not perfect decisions but good decisions, and for the right reasons, for Canadians. We started with the Federal Accountability Act. After the sponsorship scandal, the HRDC boondoggle and all the rest, how much we needed to restore trust in government! Typically, these changes were fought us all the way. But, in the end, we got them passed. And Ottawa is a better place as a result.

Look at the difference. When, in the global recession, we had to launch extraordinary stimulus measures they were done – done quickly and competently. The money went into projects for people not into the pockets of supporters. And that, my friends, is the difference that we have made.

We cut taxes. We started by cutting the GST, as we promised, from seven, to six, to five per cent. Cutting the GST was real tax relief, my friends, for every Canadian, every time they stand at the cash till. We’ve cut personal income taxes, for seniors, for students, for tradespeople, for transit riders, for families on fitness programs, to name some among many.

Ask Martyn and Cynthia Turcotte. They have children, they both work. They’re from around here, but they could be from anywhere in Canada, because they are among nearly 19 million Canadian families who today pay up to $3,000 less in federal taxes per year than they did when we took office.

Or ask Ron and Kathy Gaudet. Ron is retired. As a result of our action on the economy, they can now income split, and couples who do that save an average of almost $1,000 a year, a saving they did not have 5 years ago.

Then there are the folks on whom so many Canadians depend, the good people who start businesses
and create jobs. My friends, you get more of what you encourage. We want more entrepreneurs to create more jobs, so we’ve lightened their tax load too.

People like Renren Bai. Renren is a small business owner whose enterprise is growing as a result of our low-tax policies, and his business now employs more people as a result.

Friends, when we took office, Canada had one of the highest rates of taxation among the major developed countries for the people who create wealth and jobs. Soon, it will have the lowest! And that is why
the Canadian economy is creating jobs!

We delivered choice in child care, through the universal child care benefit. That’s $100 per month, for every pre-school child, directly into the hands of people like Pearl and Joseph Amuah. Pearl and Joseph are just starting their family. Who knows what’s best for children? Conservatives know who: and their names are Mom and Dad.

For years, friends, despite decades of soft-on-crime policies, Canadians have been deeply concerned about crime, especially about gun, gang, and drug violence. So we have taken action to make our streets and communities safer, to stop coddling criminals, and start protecting victims. And people know it, and know that there is still much before Parliament that is yet to be passed.

Canadians expect to live in a country where they don’t have to worry when they turn off the lights at night,
where they don’t have to look over their shoulders as they walk down the street; where they can expect to find their car where they parked it. Sometimes that means taking the bad guys out of circulation for a while. So that’s what we’re doing. Does it cost money? Yes. Is it worth it? Just ask a victim!

Friends, along with protecting citizens, protecting our country is government’s other core job. Again, think back to 2006. Our Canadian Armed Forces, our men and women in uniform had gone through what they themselves called “a decade of darkness.” Equipment was worn out. Morale was poor. Remember how the previous government sent them to the Afghan desert in green uniforms?

Since we took office our government has, with the exception of the navy, almost completely re-equipped the Canadian Armed Forces. And the navy’s next! My friends, I want you to remember: No matter how some will
downplay the need do equip the military, we know from experience that governments of all stripes will send them into a war theatre at the drop of a hat. As they did in Afghanistan.

And that is why we will ensure that our men and women in uniform, our country’s most committed citizens, committed to the point of their very lives – we will ensure they will always have what they need to do their jobs as well and as safely as possible!

We have built a stronger and more united Canada. We’ve addressed wrongs like Indian Residential Schools and the Chinese Head Tax to help Canadians move forward together. We recognized that Québécois form a nation
within a united Canada. We have upheld the value of Canadian citizenship. Our new citizenship guide imparts a deeper understanding of Canada’s history, symbols and values. Can you believe it, the previous one, dating from nineteen ninety four, didn’t even mention Remembrance Day?

We’ve cut the landing fee for new immigrants, folks like Renren Bai who we just met, who arrived in Canada two years ago to start her newspaper. We have also expanded immigrant settlement support and kept our doors open during the global recession. We’ve also introduced tough legislation to combat immigration abuse and human smuggling. And for all these reasons, today, the Conservative Party of Canada is the first choice among hard-working, law-abiding New Canadian voters!

And, of course, friends, we all know what the biggest issue is. We have delivered strong, stable, economic leadership. It has been a very difficult couple of years in the global economy. As we are a trading nation, what has happened to our partners, has affected us.

It has been an historic, unprecedented challenge. But, we have met it with unprecedented success. When the worldwide recession came to our door, we took action! Canada’s Economic Action Plan kickstarted activity from coast to coast to coast, through more than 23,000 projects. We put Canadians to work. Helped those who had lost their jobs through no fault of their own. Helped struggling industries find their feet. And, of course, we advanced already planned roads, bridges, harbours, airports, knowledge facilities, recreational facilities, college and care buildings – every conceivable type of infrastructure that Canadians depend on to live and work investments that will deliver dividends for decades to come.

The result is more than 460,000 net new jobs, the soundest financial sector in the world, five consecutive quarters of economic growth the lowest deficit and debt among the G8 in most cases by far; and because of all this, the unqualified assessment of the world that, my friends, that if you had to pick one major developed country in which to live, work and invest, Canada would be the place!

That’s part of the reason why Canada stands tall in the world. It’s about being an example to follow. Whether it’s assisting neighbours in need, like Haiti, whether it’s working to stabilize the world economy at the G20, supporting Israel’s right to exist, standing up for Canada’s sovereignty in our Arctic, or helping save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world, it’s about principled leadership.

And that, my friends, that is not the same thing as swimming with the current for the sake of easy applause. In our dealings with other nations, we have chosen what is right, and what is good. And, sometimes, as a consequence, we pay a price. But, Canada must reflect the true character of its people. Honourable in our dealings. Faithful to our commitments. Loyal to our friends. By turns a courageous warrior and
a compassionate neighbour. That is the spirit of the Canada I know.

Canadians are proud of that spirit. And they trust us to live by it!

My friends, I haven’t told you the half of it. For five years, we have been busy, incredibly busy. You know, I think back, to that night, five years ago today. We – Ben and Rachel, Laureen and myself – were with friends at a hotel in Calgary, watching the results come in. And you know, I can see Ben and Rachel and, boy, they were a lot smaller then.

Anyway, there came a point where, it was clear that we were going to be the next government. And of course, it’s a very humbling, even an intimidating moment. You realize that in some ways, the futures of the kids of every Canadian family are partly in your hands. Some of them voted for our party. Some of them didn’t. But we have a duty to all of them … to protect them, to serve them, to help them pursue their dreams.

So, I said then that Canada’s Conservatives would govern with hope. With hope, and not with fear. I said we would make Canada more united, stronger, more prosperous and safer. And five years later, I can tell you this: We have made Canada more united, stronger, more prosperous, and a safer country! This party, the Conservative Party of Canada, has walked its talk, and it has earned the trust of the Canadian people.

Depuis notre victoire, il y a cinq ans, j’ai eu le privilège de visiter de nombreuses régions de notre grand pays. J’ai rencontré beaucoup de gens exceptionnels. Que se soit à Matane, à Caraquet ou à Sept-Îles.

In these five years, I have travelled continuously right across this country to meet the people who are the foundations of Canada. The truck driver. The bank teller. The pensioner. The salesperson. The farmer, the fisherman. The entrepreneur, the autoworker. The tradesperson and the soldier. The quiet people, who don’t usually make the news, – who don’t make many demands – but who are the ones who keep their families and their communities going. And I am so proud of them.

They are the ones we serve. These people love Canada. They love it deeply. And whoever has the honour to lead them must care about them and must love Canada as much as they do!

My friends, we have a plan, and it is working. Canadians know they have a government that respects their families that helps them in tangible ways, that looks out for their personal security. They know they have a clean government. So what next?

Obviously, we have to stay focussed on jobs, and the economy. If we don’t have a strong economy, we don’t have choices. It’s that simple. We are coming through this worldwide recession, in better condition than just about anyone. But, frankly, Canada’s recovery, Canada’s future, is not locked down. I said before, and I’ll say it again, the global recovery is fragile. What is important now – what is absolutely crucial – is that we do not tamper with the policies that are working. We must carry on doing what we have been doing.

That means saying “no” to raising taxes, taxes that will hurt Canadians’ pocketbooks and make Canadian business uncompetitive. It means winding up stimulus spending and saying “no” to spending more money on new things we can’t afford. And it means saying “yes” to continuing to gradually bring down the deficit.

Et bien sûr, nous continuerons de protéger les Canadiens en mettant les criminels derrière les barreaux.

There is still a lot for Parliament to do. So we’ll also carry on doing whatever it takes to keep our streets and our communities safe. And by the way we haven’t been able to pass everything in a minority Parliament, but that doessn’t mean we’ve forgotten.

One day, there will be an elected Senate, and we will get rid of that wasteful and inefficient registry of long-guns!

My friends, fellow Conservatives, we have travelled a long road to reach this place. And just as I thank Laureen, and Ben and Rachel, for all that they have had to put up with over the years … I thank every one of you, here and from coast to coast to coast, whose dedication and loyalty have been as large as your vision and love of country – you who have paid the price and brought us this far.

Just remember, this is not our destination. This is not our journey’s end. We are not people who, as the poet puts it, “Travel for the sake of trafficking alone.” Truly in our hearts we have a greater purpose. A greater purpose, than to hold power only for the sake of holding power.

Today, we may allow ourselves to pause, to take stock, to look back with satisfaction and perhaps just a little pride. But tomorrow, that’s another day.

Nous devons regarder en avant et continuer de bâtir un pays rempli d’espoir.

It is our purpose, that Canada must be great. It must be great for all Canadians. It must be a country of hope, and an example to the world. Only when it is these things, when Canada is all that it can be, only then can we say that our work is done! I thank all of you for how far you’ve brought us.

Thank you.

God bless Canada!

CBC vs. the CPC on those new ads

Well, it was bound to happen. The CBC is in a snit over those new ads that the Conservative Party released the other day. They — the public broadcaster that is — complain that their (our) intellectual property was violated when the Conservatives used footage of Michael Ignatieff in the ads.

A few points need to be made here. As stated above, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is a public asset; it is a crown corporation. Also, this has happened before. CBC and CPAC complained when pool footage was taken from the Liberal leadership contest in 2006 to make those “Not A Leader” ads. Those ads were approved for airing on television.

Fast forward to today. Speaking with senior Conservative staff, I’ve learned that the Telecaster ID for the ads has already been obtained meaning the ads have been cleared by the agency that approves Canadian advertising for Canadian television. But one doesn’t need to learn this from the party, the mere fact that the ads are airing indicates that they have been through the approval process.

Further to this, the ad which features Michael Ignatieff on C-SPAN had recycled content from an earlier round of Conservative advertising. C-SPAN has previously had and continues to have no problem with the airing of their footage in a political commercial. It seems somewhat troubling that an American television channel has a better grasp of “fair use/dealings” provisions of copyright — in the use of a meager few seconds of footage of a public figure, speaking on matters of public policy, in a public forum, as part of the larger public debate — than our national broadcaster.

Conservatives are already saying that this causes them to question the CBC’s partiality in this matter. Pair this with the broadcaster awarding of a polling contract to big time Liberal donor and adviser Frank Graves in an apparent twisting of the CBC’s own written guidelines and this only raises more questions about neutrality. Graves has donated disproportionately to the Liberals and advised the Grits to start a “culture war” in Canada. The CBC wrote at the time of the Frank Graves brouhaha,

“To meet our qualification and selection process (through a formal RFP), all of our polling firms were required to make a specific declaration that they were not affiliated with any political party, as this would have disqualified them. We have reviewed this important point with Mr. Graves and confirmed that no client relationship with the Liberal Party of Canada exists.”

Why does the CBC brass bend for Liberals but is overly rigid on Conservatives?

On the use of public and government space for partisan purposes

In response to Kady O’Malley’s inquiry yesterday, a Conservative staffer sent along the following:

Liberal Express on the Hill-
http://www.youtube.com/user/liberalvideo#p/u/32/u31WmBdohzg

Ignatieff asking people to join Liberal Party in a video shot in his Centre Block office –
http://www.youtube.com/user/liberalvideo#p/u/478/xQ6rFaCDGDA

Ignatieff asking for ideas for his Montreal policy conference-
http://www.youtube.com/user/liberalvideo#p/u/683/6JLo0KZjDug

***

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff launched his 20/11 tour on Parliament Hill, speaking to reporters before launching a pre-election tour of 20 ridings targeted by. (Postmedia News. Janu 13, 2011)

***

Stephane Dion Green Shift Promotional Video. Shot at a Liberal caucus meeting on the Hill-
http://www.tagtele.com/videos/voir/25764

In 2004, Paul Martin shot an ad at Harrington Lake, the prime minister’s official country residence. (Toronto Star. June 3, 2004.)

***

Postscript: The ad is one of two shot at Harrington Lake, a posh, countrified residence that past prime minister Jean Chretien didn’t much like to use because it had been such a favoured haunt of his Conservative predecessor, Brian Mulroney. A second Martin ad was shot outside the residence and has yet to air. (Canadian Press. May 26, 2004)

***

Martin is featured prominently in one French television ad that hit airwaves on Tuesday. Partially filmed at his official summer residence at Harrington Lake, Que., Martin concludes the 30-second spot by saying Quebecers want a strong voice that will represent their interests. (Canadian Press. May 19, 2004)

***

In 1997 Jean Chretien filmed ads at 24 Sussex, which featured the then-PM listing the government’s successes. (Marketing Magazine. May 12, 1997)

In Chretien’s new TV spots that begin airing today, the Prime Minister slams tax cuts and In the other ad, he criticizes right-wing endorsement of a two-tiered health-care system and vows Liberals will preserve its universality. “Every Canadian is entitled to the best health care in the world,” Chretien says. “It is your right and we will protect it.” Both 30-second Liberal ads are filmed at the Prime Minister’s official residence at 24 Sussex Drive in Ottawa (Toronto Star. May 4, 1997)

***

The Coalition is alive and well

Hey, what is that? Up there? In that office window?

Is it? It is! That’s a “Coalition Yes” sign that was union-made during those heady days of Canadian politics when the Liberals, NDP and Bloc signed on to a coalition agreement to take power from the Conservative government just 6 weeks after an election.

A ground-level photo of the type of sign:

Where was this photo taken? That’s the Promenade Building where MP offices have been temporarily moved during the West block renovations. The office is that of Pascal-Pierre Paillé, a Bloc MP.

And the next office over? That would be the office of Royal Galipeau, Conservative MP (Galipeau’s office the window on the left, Paillé’s office two windows to the right):

In negotiations that led up to the coalition agreement, the NDP said they were willing to give up their position on corporate tax cuts. The Liberals? They were willing to give up Stephane Dion. It appears that the Bloc is willing to give up French on their signs. 😉

Conservatives roll out new ads

In the Conservatives quest to gain impressions for their message in the news — paired complimentarily to the media’s quest to sell newspapers and television advertising — new election-style ads are out from the party.

The Conservatives are explaining themselves saying that while they are focused on governing, if Michael Ignatieff is going to loudly and shamelessly beat the election drum, they have no choice but to respond.

When partisans release YouTube videos, the media doesn’t particularly notice. When there’s a party tagline on YouTube videos, the media sits up and wonders if these ads are going fill the gaps between stories of fake news Stephen Colbert mentioning Canada’s name thus meriting mention on the real news (CTV only) and stories of a reporter retiring (CBC only). Yes, will television networks merely repeat the ads as earned media in their newscasts or will they see the party buy some paid media?

I suppose the question will be answered if there’s an actual election. For the most part, these YouTube vignettes are election-ready. We have the full slate: the positive ad, the varied attack ads vs Ignatieff and the region-targeted ads about Jack Layton that will run in BC, and in rural Ontario, Saskatchwan and Manitoba markets. In French, there’s the ad against Gilles Duceppe being too “Montreal” (another cosmopolitan in our midst?!) and one that delightfully uses the wisdom of Justin Trudeau against Ignatieff. Interestingly, we also see the theme of illegal (cladestine?) immigration come up in French where unbeknown to many, polls higher as an issue in Quebec.

The move is a wise one for the Conservatives. The earned media juice will be worth the squeeze, and if we end up in election mode in a matter of weeks, the ads are already in the can. Also benefiting the Tories, it further underscores Ignatieff’s stated desire for an election. Speaking with senior Liberals last week, I can confirm that staffers are eager to clear the air and want the same. Canadians tend to punish those who are unnecessarily reckless in wanting power.

If you want to get a sense of the message of the top two parties going into the next election, the rhetoric of late has helped this become clear. The Conservatives argue that they’ve put Canada on the right track economically but the work isn’t finished yet. Also, leadership is a quality they want to emphasize. Further to this, they describe Michael Ignatieff as a charlatan who is only in it for himself, who is wrong on the economy and taxes and who would recklessly threaten the country’s stability with a coalition with socialists and separatists. The Conservatives will emphasize the fact the economy is on the recovery but that it is a fragile one. They will put the positive elements of the recovery in the window while Liberals will amplify their message against spending on “fighter jets and prisons”. For the Liberals, their response has been overconfidently focus-tested in the media and on twitter (fake lakes anyone?) and they’ll argue that the Conservatives have misplaced spending priorities when according to the Grits, the government should be spending on big ticket domestic items like national daycare and national eldercare.

Is there an election in the air, or is Michael Ignatieff simply doing his best to try to pass the task of supporting the government on the budget to Jack Layton? At the very least, the Conservatives are doing their best to prevent Ignatieff from skating through this effort easily. If being bellicose on an election helps Ignatieff save face, the Tories are doing their best to suggest that a coming election (and the uncertain time up to one) is Michael Ignatieff’s fault.

UPDATE: The ad buy is real. This is not just a YouTube campaign. Track the #SawAnAd hashtag for details.

Here are the ads:

The positive one:

The coalition one:

The Ignatieff’s weak connection to Canada ad:

The Ignatieff’s strong connection to America ad:

The NDP specific ad:

The Liberals vs. Liberals ad:

The Bloc specific ad:

Michael Ignatieff goes on tour

They’re calling in the “bus drive in the snow”.

Michael Ignatieff’s first stop: Carlingwood Mall. Perhaps the sleepiest mall in Ottawa.

There were some protesters outside (University of Ottawa and Carleton students):

Inside, Michael Ignatieff said that he was going to retire John Baird, who Ignatieff labeled the “snarling face” of Stephen Harper’s government. Ignatieff went on to say that Canadians have a choice between the red door and the blue door and that his bus tour may go on for ten more days or “even longer” (hinting at a coming election)

This Liberal rhetoric projects in the same direction, if not the same tone as that of the Liberal Party over the past 1.5 years. Ignatieff famously declared then that “Mr. Harper, your time is up!” indicating that his party would no longer support the Conservative government after a weak summer and climbdown over EI reform (“blue ribbon committee” anyone?) The bold tone of Ignatieff’s statement sent reporters into a tizzy declaring that an election was imminent. Canadians ended up punishing the Liberals as they reflected reservations (rightly or wrongly) of Ignatieff’s perceived newfound hunger for power at any cost. In my opinion, he was just trying to pass the bag to Layton’s NDP because the Liberal leader was tired of carrying it.

Lately, Ignatieff’s actions have followed a similar tack which some senior Conservatives describe as “flailing”. Indeed, Mr. Ignatieff is flailing if only to flail for enough breathing room to establish his party as the one that opposes the government in the House of Commons. Prior to the Christmas break, Ignatieff said that Liberals were ready for election at any time and he voiced a bellicose, reputation-staking tone on Calgary Centre North as a byelection to win (the riding is a safe seat for the Conservatives). Is this an opposition leader seeking an election or one trying to put the onus of supporting the upcoming budget on the NDP? I believe it is the latter and I’ll be watching for a kernel (on pensions?) that the government offers the NDP in exchange for Layton’s support. This certainly isn’t about an election as the Liberals have suffered in the polls and Canadians are still focused upon the economic recovery — an issue on which the voters place their trust in Stephen Harper.

Ignatieff’s false electioneering is a move to give way to Jack Layton so that the Liberal leader can safely oppose the government. This latest Liberal tour is a bus drive in the snow, so that Ignatieff can avoid the walk for the time being.