So I joined that Facebook group and will sooner or later send real paper letters to my Member of Parliament as well as my Prime Minister to let them know how much I am displeased. That’ll show ’em.
I think, however, in terms of voter intention, we’re in a weird place in Canada now. While in September, the Conservatives were getting enough support in the polls to possibly form a majority government in the next election, this was also at the expense of support for the Liberals whose leader, Michael Ignatieff, hasn’t exactly lit a fire underneath anyone.
A more recent poll has shown that Stephen Harper’s decision to shut down Parliament, effectively killing all outstanding legislation, has cost him votes. But with this slide in the polls, nobody is really looking to the alternatives and saying, ‘Yes, you are the next Prime Minister’. A recent article in the Walrus describes our misgivings about Michael Ignatieff quite well:
There’s something oddly irritating about Michael Ignatieff that’s hard to pinpoint. It’s expressed obliquely in countless forms: his mid-Atlantic accent in English, his Parisian French, his languid delivery, his patrician air, his supercilious regard, the brass buttons on his blue blazer, the way he wants to ingratiate himself with the plebeians by slipping into slang or dropping his g’s. It’s probably a reflection on the Canadian spirit (maybe commendable, maybe not) that after a few minutes in his company many experience an almost irresistible urge to push him off his pedestal. Even his family was said to believe that the terrible thrashing he received for one of his novels, however bad for his ego, was probably good for his soul.
To imagine this graduate of Upper Canada College doing the grip n’ grin at the Souris, PEI Legion is something I would like to see. I take a cruel pleasure in watching the privileged forced out of their bubbles to interact with actual humans. The Royal Family does this all the time but when they do, the commoners take the time to dress up nicely and thrown down a mop over the floors. Canadian politicians are lucky if we wash our hands after using the bathroom.
In many ways, Stephen Harper is the most like regular Canadians in that he’s from a modest, middle-class background. Unlike Ignatieff he’s never hosted a show on BBC, or is the son of a famous Québec actor like Gilles Duceppe, or, like Jack Layton, has been an elected politician since Rough Trade were on the radio. And he doesn’t ride a tricycle like Elizabeth May.
The problem with him is that he seems to be the wrong kind of middle-class Canadian. He’s the guy obsessed with all things American, the one who refuses to use the metric system, needs to be reminded what channel the CBC is on, and thinks overall that Canada is kind of lame, except for hockey. If only it were more like the US, he imagines, it would be better.
So we have a guy in Ignatieff, who can call himself an American and a guy in Harper who wishes he was.
Today, Ignatieff held a news conference in Ottawa to announce that, even if Parliament is closed, he and his members are going to work anyway. I think this will play well for him. If he can give us a compelling reason why he wants to be prime minister and show what he actually believes in, it’ll play even better.
I wonder if this is the point in their history where the Liberal fortunes actually start to look up. There was, and still is, a lot of infighting since Ignatieff’s coronation. This may be the one cause that makes them rally around the leader and start forming the government in waiting.
But because I am always wrong about these things, it could be that this is just another blunder from which Harper will recover on his way to a majority government as the Liberals seek to replace yet another leader.