I'm certain that most of you have seen the presser that Michael Ignatieff held this afternoon. It was an impressive debut and left this viewer with no doubt that the Liberal party is unified in it's goal to take on Stephen Harper and all that he represents.
For me, Ignatieff not only spoke to the mess that Harper has put this country in vis à vis the economy, but he addressed the entire tone of the Harper government and the childish games that have been played since he took office. He was calling him out and denigrating the divisive tactics that the Conservative brain trust has employed for the past 3 years. It will be interesting to watch how the CPC reacts. Doug Finley, attack strategist extraordinaire, came out of the gate swinging earlier and I noted that many Conservative MP's were parroting his lines today. We'll see if that continues. If it does, it will tell you exactly what direction Harper intends to take.
Ignatieff laid bare just how ignoble Harper's actions have been. He made clear just how angry the opposition, and Canadians, are in view of that. It remains to be seen whether or not Harper will prove to be as craven as I believe he is, though to that end, he's put himself in a no win situation in my books. Harper pulled the curtain back on himself and there is no going back now.
Ignatieff, without saying as much, rebuffed Harper's phony act of extending an olive branch with a straightforward response. He said that the Liberals want to see the books, that they will read the budget before making a decision, but the PM has the department of Finance and a capable staff who were more than able to put together what the country needs at this time. Brilliant!
I received some e-mails tonight from friends who were heretofore uncertain and uncomfortable with Michael Ignatieff becoming the leader of the party. To a person, their fears were put to rest today. That is not to say that will not change in the future, but the sense I get is that people genuinely want to see the Liberal party righteously take the Conservative party to task. Ignatieff vowed to do that.
I also found it interesting how the media reacted to the new leader. Now it's fair to say that they may have taken it easy on him given that he had been leader for about a nano-second, but there was more than that. I think Ignatieff is going to change their game too. He called them out on the obvious with subtlety. He will have no part of the 'play to the lowest common denominator' trend that sadly has seeped into our national discourse and seemed to be stressing that it was time to get back to the grown ups table and deal with real issues. Oh how refreshing that will be if it holds.
One final thought. To those who supported another candidate and were upset at how the leadership race was shortened and modified, it may be useful to consider what benefit might come as a result. I've read complaints that there was no time to witness debates or hear platforms and those complaints of course are valid. However, because of that, Ignatieff hasn't locked himself into a specific mold or platform. Voices outside of his inner circle will be raised and will have to be heard. The atmosphere in which policy will be developed may well benefit from the truncated race, encouraging more consensus than may have been possible otherwise. Just a thought.