Thursday, March 30, 2006

"Iggy", Lefty Cred, and a Very Old Trick

One of the more interesting parts of the Canadian Liberal leadership campaign is that one of its main players, Michael Ignatieff, has positioned himself as one of those "liberal hawks" that have been such a problem in the United States. I addressed the issue of his support of torture below, and he certainly talks a good game (as seen in this "grab bag" piece in the Ottawa Citizen, taken from a speech yesterday)...

...but could it be that he's not actually really that liberal at all? The support of torture, the unconditional support of neo-conservative goals in Iraq (he claims that he supports it because Iraqis will "eventually build a decent society" in the Citizen piece without acknowledging the brewing civil war) : these both point to a position closer to Joe Lieberman than Pierre Trudeau: liberal on the "safe" issues (like the environment, bilingualism, the minimum wage and gay rights) but unwilling to go to the mat for the liberal position on important-yet-controversial issues like foreign policy. It's the way of building "left cred" without exposing yourself to criticism.

Yet this comment by "David M." in a Canadian blogger's comments thread is making me wonder about even the "safe" positions:

One other thing, Ignatieff is actually surprisingly right-wing. At the event last night, I couldn't believe how openly he was advocating dismantling things like dairy supply management and the CBC as part of his 'national productivity policy'. Hello? Anyone home? Mulroney's gone! For anyone on the fence, know that the guy's definitely not Trudeau, he's not progressive, and he doesn't really have any good ideas (even his nationalist ideas are like 20 years out of date...). Better to have the former Tory Brison (who speaks French only a little worse than Ignatieff and) who's actually got a platform and a commitment to Canadians that looks Liberal. A week ago, Brison, completely sober, actually explained to two complete strangers (me and another interloper) a pet plan of his to get Heritage to do a Sesame Street-style french language cartoon to be aired by the CBC. Guts and imagination from the Tory, diet-Harper from the Liberal... No wonder Brison flamed out in Vancouver (where they'll love Ignatieff, I'm sure).
The bolded stuff is what I want to focus on. Ok, this guy is probably a Brison supporter, but the rhetoric in the Citizen piece about the "national productivity policy" does fit this, especially the comment about "cozy rules that protect our banks, insurance and telecommunications companies from needed foreign competition".

If Michael Ignatieff wants to privatize the CBC and play around with Canadian agricultural policy, then that's a big story. If he wants to do it under the rubric of "productivity" then that's a bigger story, because it won't do squat for productivity and he knows it. "Productivity" is a very old trick used by Liberals when excusing right-wing economic policies that have nothing to do with real worker productivity. Ignatieff was the last person I'd expect to be employing it, but it looks like it's at least possible.

It raises the question: what else is he going to do in the name of "productivity", and will Canadians know about it before it happens?

Edit: Looks like he's pretty pro-American on BMD, too, at least according to this older entry by CalgaryGrit. It wasn't a clear endorsement, but it was that silly "we need a seat at the table" gambit. I've heard that lots of times, and every time I have, it was from someone who's real deal was "I value American ties over responsibility to the public, which hates the idea". Considering the controversy over his being parachuted into his riding, this ain't good, and doesn't exactly burnish those liberal credentials.

No comments:

Post a Comment