Sunday, January 15, 2006

Telegraph | News | Canada asks Ignatieff: Are you one of us?

Michael Ignatieff has been feeling the heat all election. First, bypassing the nomination process, angering hundreds of card-carrying Liberals. Now, in a new Telegraph article, he realizes that the way the National Liberal campaign has been run may have an effect on the ballot box. Something he knows is "clearly an issue."

Further, Ignatieff calls Martin "a great leader," while qualifying that he does not have leadership aspirations as his own. While his priority now may be to "win his seat," the way Ignatieff speaks of the leadership question clearly does not preclude him from seeking the Liberal leadership after this election.

On a related note, it almost seems stunning that months ago, Martin won his party's leadership contest with 94% of the vote. Looking back at that time, this assessment by a senior Liberal member looks dated and overly idealistic: "A senior official told The Globe that Martin is expected to deliver a tax-cut budget in the spring of 2006, and then call a budget on it -- a move meant to secure a majority win for the Liberals."

Secure a majority, eh? Martin will be grateful to secure his own seat!

Michael Ignatieff in the Telegraph:

Canada asks Ignatieff: Are you one of us?
By Philip Sherwell in Toronto
(Filed: 15/01/2006)

Michael Ignatieff speaks to voters
Michael Ignatieff seeks backing from voters

Mr Ignatieff had been widely tipped as a future Liberal leader after his surprise entry into the fray. That might explain his willingness to trade his chair in human rights at Harvard University for a backwater in western Toronto, a mixed district of wealthy mansions, poor housing estates and big eastern European communities. But he told the Sunday Telegraph last week that the leadership question had "no place on the table and is in any case very presumptuous as we already have a great leader". His only priority now, he said, was to win his seat. That race has proved more bruising than he might have imagined when a group of Liberal party grandees urged him to run. Liberal support is sliding across the country - they trail the Conservatives by up to 10 per cent - and his intellectual pedigree is haunting as much as helping his campaign.


His party played its own "American card" last week as it tried to stem tumbling public support, releasing a series of advertisements tying Mr Harper to the US. Even with a 9,000 majority to defend, Mr Ignatieff is aware his deeply held opinions combined with the Liberals' national woes could cause him problems at the ballot box. "It's clearly an issue but I guess I won't know how much of one until January 23," he said.

"But these questions are really a stalking horse for something else. People are really asking 'Is he one of us?' "

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