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I take it back, Iggy couldn't win an election

Michael Ignatieff hadn't gaffed for a while. I thought maybe, just maybe, he was learning from his early mistakes. But I suppose the two month gaffe timer was up.

Don Newman on Politics reports that Ignatieff referred to Israeli actions in Lebanon earlier this year as a war crime on a TV show in Quebec over the weekend, costing him Thornhill MP Susan Kadis' support for his leadership.

To me it is not so much the issue of Ignatieff calling Israel's actions war crimes. I can deal with that opinion. It's the constant changing of opinion that worries me. His office apparently immediately issued a clarification, stating that while he had prefixed his comment that Israel's actions were war crimes with a reminder of his expertise in international law, he didn't really mean it that way. Way to take a principled position and stick to it.

He started off by commenting that he wasn't losing any sleep over the fate of the Lebanese. It was probably quite honest, I'm sure he was sleeping just fine, as were most people not directly involved in the conflict. But it is still a dumb and insensitive thing to say.

After having a weird disagreement with his campaign chief over the reason for his extended absence to Eastern Europe during the crisis, he noticed that the comment about losing sleep was not going over well. Oops, better retract it. Now he is going off the other end. Instead of showing reckless disrespect for the Lebanese side of the conflict, he is calling the Israelis war criminals. In so doing he has managed to piss off both sides, rather than neither, and that is hardly a leadership skill worth rewarding.

Liberals must not elect this gaffe-prone time bomb as our leader if we hope ever to win an election. Crashing haphazardly from gaffe to gaffe through a federal election campaign would be fatal for the party and is something we truly cannot afford. Did we not learn anything from the disaster that was Paul Martin, whose name no-one even dares mention any more? Have we not had enough of "oops"-based policy?

While the Ignatieff supporters who have gone blind with faith in their holy leader will dismiss this as just the machinations of a supporter of another leader, I urge those whose minds continue to be open to seriously think about the ramifications of Ignatieff as a leader come the next federal election, almost certainly just around the corner from the convention.

Those wishing to prop up Ignatieff at the cost of others will state that Dion gaffed by not voting in the opposition motion compelling the government to meet its Kyoto targets, ignoring the resounding success of that vote, Dion's prior obligations, and his presence at the parliamentary committee meeting on the same day grilling Rona Ambrose. These same people will probably also call Bob Rae's skinny dipping on the Mercer Report yesterday a gaffe equal to his proportions. Really, though, it was a hilarious and totally harmless stunt.

It can be acceptable to gaffe in a campaign, once. Apologise with a sincere smile and move on, or possibly even stick to your principled guns. From what I have seen, more damage is created reacting to a gaffe than is normally created by making one in the first place.

Those considering supporting Ignatieff should pause and think: is drunken lurching from gaffe to gaffe really what we want in a leader, no matter what his intellectual credentials?

Posted at 16:50 on October 11, 2006

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The front-runners: All could be Prime Minister, given time | leadership politics | From dog days to doggone debates


Jason Bo Green writes at Wed Oct 11 19:34:33 2006...

Same here - it's not the original opinion, which I think is premature (as far as I know) but which I would hear out fully, it's the Church retraction/statement that frustrates me. I used to be eager about the guy, but it's been gone out of me for a while. Great CabMin, no doubt, we'd be lucky to have him, but I don't see him as PM.


Steve writes at Wed Oct 11 19:45:50 2006...

He should retract the war crimes comment - dumb, dumb, dumb.

He's probably done himself too much damage to win now.


cdlu writes at Wed Oct 11 19:54:58 2006...

Jason,

He might make a good cabinet minister, but someone will have to keep him from being an election-2004-tory during the interim campaign(s).

Steve, better now than after he's leader!


Jan Johnstone writes at Wed Oct 11 21:26:49 2006...

Well Iggy was right in his original statement, check with the international human rights commission. That said, he should never have backtracked his statement or should have made reference to this international body. And Bob swimming in the buff was no gaff, in fact far from it. That small segment said all sorts of very positive attributes to his character, and how so very Canadian he is. To the public audience it probably gained him a ton of votes. You guys need to get out more often.


cdlu writes at Wed Oct 11 21:50:56 2006...

Jan,

I agree. Rae's stunt was excellent. My point was precisely that some people won't get it.

As for Ignatieff, that's also my point. What he has said hasn't concerned me so much as his constant backtracking and rerouting. If he has thought out opinions, he should stick to them.


michelle writes at Sat Oct 14 09:54:06 2006...

I have been appalled by the prospect of an Ignatieff candidacy since the first time I heard it was even a possibility. The man, for all his Intellect (capital intented) has NO JUDGEMENT. Anyone who supported the Bush Administration's Iraq adventure as vociferously as he did when there was still time to speak up against it should not be entrusted with even the prospect of steering the Ship of State. Canadians are now stuck with their churlish choice of Harper, who did precisely that, and demonstrates every day his lack of vision and statesmanship. Canadians will soon be sick of him. Let's not put up a Trudeau wanna-be as their only alternative, or the sanest people just won't turn out to vote and Harper will be reelected. Ignatieff always was a disaster waiting to happen.

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