What Advice Would You Give Michael Ignatieff?

Michael Ignatieff’s early honeymoon with Canadians augured great promise for his prospects. But that honeymoon now appears to be over, at least according to Strategic Counsel principal Peter Donolo. And Donolo is rarely wrong.

The jury is still out on whether Canadians will say yes to Ignatieff. But one thing is clear: Ignatieff remains very much in the hunt and could well be the next camper to pitch his tent at 24 Sussex. He’s got a lot of work to do before that day ever comes, though.

Were I advising Ignatieff, I would encourage him to begin to roll out names of prominent women and men from outside Parliament whom he would invite to join his Cabinet in leading portfolios like finance, justice, foreign affairs and defence. He has already begun doing that, as this report from Jane Taber suggests. But he should do more of it — starting at the end of August, as cottage season ends, yet still long (?) before an election is called — and he should do it in a systematic and very public way. In individual campaign-style announcements followed by press conferences, he should stand next to each new prominent candidate as each expounds on his/her views, plans, and goals for their respective ministries.

This strategy could prove useful in two ways. First, it would demonstrate that Ignatieff is unafraid to surround himself with competent, qualified and outspoken people. This would draw attention once again to the perception/reality that Stephen Harper muzzles his caucus colleagues and trusts neither them nor their ability. Second, it would sharpen the contrast between what some regard as the strong liberal bench and the relatively weaker team that the governing party is currently fielding.

Just some friendly advice for the Ignatieff team.

What advice would you give Ignatieff? (Apart from ignoring my own advice, that is!)


  1. says

    WoW!!! Very sage advice I’d say.

    I would advise Iggy and the Liberals to make greater use of social media, to make announcement such as you suggest…or to solicit contributions. Harvest those email addresses and send out weekly updates on the Liberal leader and his activities, policies.

    Take a page from Harper…be vague, in fact be even more vague than the PM. Harper has been bitten by a number of his boisterous promises: Stacking the senate, Fixed election dates, the tax status of income trusts…projections of surplus…etc etc etc.

    Still…those shattered promises aside, Harper didn’t actually make many assurances in the last election. There wasn’t even a platform until about a week before the election.

    Speak in generalities, and attack Harper’s record. Stress good government that operates on sound fiscal principles.

    WoW…I can’t believe I stumbled in here from the blogging tories website.

  2. bert says

    Gordiecanuk,attacking PM Harpers great record is the stupidest advice i have ever heard.I would have Iggy apologize for being a Liberal,apologize for the Adscam corruption,explain how he would have the Liberals pay back the stolen money,when they will pay back their leadership loans and try to give some semblence of what Liberal policy is. That’s for a start and to finish it off,i would say to Iggy,go back to Harvard ,because the longer you are associated with Liberals the more of the disease wears off on you.

  3. Magnafan says

    I would have every Liberal consult the Oxford English Dictionary for the definition of “liberal”. They would discover that it is the opposite of their creed. They would learn that liberalism equates with individual freedoms, not sacrifice for the collective; that freedom means freedom to do business without senseless nanny-state regulations; that individual freedom means freedom to defend oneself from bad people who want to hurt you, not waiting minutes for the police to arive and file a report.

    After learning the true meaning of “liberal” those who still want to be Liberals–in the Liberal-Party sense, could continue. Those with brains could recant on prime-time television and join the Conservative Party. Or, start their own new classical liberal party, which would likely garner a majority in its first election.

  4. Mary HInes says

    For any man who wants to be PM of our Great Country – spend 35 years working outside the Country he calls his… spends his first vacation as Opposition Leader on an Island outside our country…. spends his first official vacation as Official Leader of the Opposition in France – outside our Country – for someone who said the only thing he missed while working outside our Country was Algonquin Park – my advise to him – if Canada is not good enough for you – if Canada has nothing to offer you…. if Canada is not able to deal with you on your level – go back to the place you have been living – enjoy your life as an American and give us a Canadian who wants to be part of us!

  5. RD says

    I love how everyone used this article to spout their opinions of the guy and not provide actual constructive input.
    I suppose you simply needed the word “Ignatief” and these precise responses would have come.

    To disagree with Bert, I think the only thing Ignatief can do is attack Harper’s record. I mean, what on earth is the alternative? Praising Harper’s record. Regardless of whether or not Harper and the conservatives are doing a good job, Ignatief cannot win an election by praising the conservative government.

    Ignatief has to continue bringing the party back to the center left from the extreme left – left. Canadian elections are won with the undecided centrist voters and when you had Chretien and Martin presiding over strong economies and budget surplusses, the conservative option was not attractive enough to swing voters. In the old Liberal governments (our last majorities), you had fiscal stability and the illusion of social responsibility. This combination was ideal for the upper middle yuppy class (416 and some of 519).

    So for Ignatief to get back into contention, he has to stop pandering to the far left (who have poor voter turnout anyway) and return back to luring centrist voters who come out in droves on election night.

    How does he do this? Attack, attack, attack. Choosing the appropriate target is important. Can he win by challenging Harper’s leadership? Probably not. He gains ground by hammering Flaherty, and other cabinet ministers that have had bad press.

    My 2 cents( + tax)

  6. Calgary Junkie says

    It’s too late for good advice. Iggy’s credibility has taken too much of a hit. First because he backed off in such a pathetic way from his tough-guy rhetoric (“mess with me, etc”). Second, because he backed off from his National Post op-ed about the urgency of making EI reforms. He obviously wasn’t sincere in his “advocacy” for the unemployed.

    This lack of credibility will work against Iggy, for example when he tries to deny that he will re-create the Coaltion, if the next election results warrant it. Voters will be asked to ponder what Iggy meant by “A Coalition if necessary …”. Wouldn’t another Harper minority make the coalition “necessary” ? Iggy doesn’t have a good answer to that question.

    So I guess my advice to him would be, bite the bullet, admit that he will indeed visit the Governor General, to try and sell the Coaltion Option to her, if the the election makes it all “necessary”.

  7. says

    My advice to Ignatieff is the same advice I would give Harper:

    – stop the nonsense
    – cut taxes
    – cut expenditures
    – cut services
    – stop printing money

    and get the hell out of our lives.

  8. wilson says

    Iffy is hooped.
    He refused to take any blame for the recession fallout,
    ‘Harper wears this recession'; and now can take none of the credit for what appears to be the shortest lived Great Depression in 100 years.
    PMSH did a fantastic job on the world stage.

    He played the doom and gloom game, so can not offer himself up as Mr Optimism. Instead he has been Mr Negative., ‘no we can’t !’

    PMSH is right where Iffy wants to be, like on crime and immigration, but the party he leads is still hug a thug and open wallet to non-Canadians.

    My advice to Iffy, offer yourself up as Foriegn Affairs Minister in a Harper Government.

  9. says

    bert…would you have Harper appologize for “brown bag” Mulroney’s mistakes?

    The conservatives have been a different party under Mulroney, Clark and Harper…same as the Liberal under Trudeau, Chretien and Ignatieff.

    If you’re simply a partisan hack, then you paint everyone with the same brush…but I’m not partisan. In my life I’ve voted Conservative and Liberal, and even NDP on a coupld of occassions.

    My party all the time??? Nope…that’s an idiotic way to operate imo.

    @ the blog owner…I’ve added your site to my blog roll (sites worth visiting). Enjoy seeing reasoned analysis of the issues, instead of the usual partisan hackery displayed by some of the commentators here.

  10. brad maynard says

    i would give him nothing since todays liberalism is anathema to what i believe. has conservative policy of late impressed me? not in the slightest however it is still the best shot to satisfy my beliefs and for that i will continue to vote for the conservatives, back my local candidate, and work tirelessly at the grassroots level until i am satisfied. that is my reason for being a “partisan hack” as GORDIECANUK describes.
    ignatieff is just another harvard intellectual that should spend more time in the classroom working on political theory than attempting to put it into practice to satisfy some professional curiousity.

  11. Liz says

    I would advise him to take early retirement and go back to his writing career. He has the wrong personal profile and skills to be a party leader for Canada. I desperately wish the media would STOP trying to save the Liberal Party and their bad plan to anoint the wrong leader. Note to Jane Taber: no make-over will work!!! He is 61 and he is not going to change who he is, and no window-dressing by being propped-up by esteemed ?? future cabinet members is going to make these facts any different! P.S. There was no honeymoon because it was an arranged marriage with no love. Some of the in-laws want their heirloom gifts returned.