Never turn your back on a liberal in a tight corner?

Sep 27th, 2009 | By | Category: In Brief
Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton (and Olivia Chow) at the 2009 Dragon Ball in Toronto.

Michael Ignatieff and Jack Layton (and Olivia Chow) at the 2009 Dragon Ball in Toronto.

TORONTO. SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2009. [UPDATED SEPTEMBER 28]. Both Lawrence Martin of the Globe and Mail and Ralph Surette of the Halifax Chronicle Herald have shown some special sympathy for Jack Layton and his New Democrats lately — in the midst of their new marriage of convenience with the definitely non-progressive Harper Conservatives.

But who is questioning  the scorn also being heaped on Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff?  (Consider, e.g.: Peter Donolo, or Rick Salutin, or Bob Hepburn, or Chantal Hébert.)

A more populist survey at late-September back-to-school parties in the Canadian city with the heart of a loan shark has brought further intelligence on the new dilemmas of the aspiring progressive voter in Canada today.

Even here almost nobody likes Michael Igantieff now. Adam Gopnik’s prediction that he is “surprisingly likely to be Canada’s next Prime Minister” was published in the September 7 issue of the New Yorker.  But it reflects the time it was written, a few months ago — and not the changed real world today. (When  “Conservatives jump ahead in poll,” “Ottawa moves to reshape the House,”  “Federal Tories pull away in new poll,” “Harper to deliver economic report card Monday,” etc, etc.)

There are those who agree Ignatieff has proved a vast disappointment. But they will still vote Liberal in the next federal election, whenever it comes, because they still don’t trust the Harper Conservatives. But then there are those who cast themselves “well to the left” of everyone else, and feel that “Ignatieff’s no better than Harper — and may even be worse.”

One thing we wondered about: If Nova Scotian Darrell Dexter’s “conservative progressivism” is part of where New Democrats are at, doesn’t this work for part of Michael Ignatieff too (granting there’s still a lot more that’s missing, of course)?

I.F. Stone (right) speaks at a Berkeley free speech movement demo, 1964.

I.F. Stone (right) speaks at a Berkeley free speech movement demo, 1964.

Then late at night, reading the New York Review of Books in a fit of insomnia, we stumbled across a cardinal belief of the late great I.F. Stone, another figure “well to the left” of almost everyone: “Never turn your back on a liberal in a tight corner.”

It seems something to think about — as the 40th Parliament of Canada gets back to business this week. And, Conservative-New Democrat marriage of convenience aside, no less sensible an authority than the University of Ottawa historian Michael Behiels is saying: “It’s time to pull the plug … The future of Canadian democracy is at stake. The deadlock of divisive minority governments has to be broken. Canadians need to move forward into the future, not simply tread water while the rest of the world .. moves on.”

UPDATE MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 12 NOON EDT: And yes, the Canadian Press has now reported: “The Liberals will table a non-confidence motion in the Commons today and they expect a vote on Thursday that is increasingly looking like it will fail to bring down the minority government.” The “Bloc has said it will support such a motion.”  But NDP deputy leader “Thomas Mulcair said today ‘the important thing is to try to keep Parliament working so that we can do things that are in the public interest.’”

And see also:  “Liberals prepare confidence motion – but lose Quebec lieutenant … Blaming Ignatieff’s Toronto-centric inner circle, Coderre resigns over Outremont dispute as Liberals attempt to topple minority Conservative government.”

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