Thursday, November 25, 2010

Canadian Liberal Conflict

It'll be very interesting to see how the conflict within the Liberal Party of Canada over the extension of their commitment to Afghanistan is going to play out. Apparently there will be a vote, and it's anybody's guess as to whether or not Ignatieff can get his caucus to play ball. He's not the most popular man in the country. Or even among his party:
Just about two in three Canadians (64 per cent) believe the Liberals definitely or probably should change leaders. Naturally, that number includes a lot of people who weren't going to vote Liberal anyway, but the stunning finding under the surface of this poll is that fully 59 per cent of those who say they are inclined to vote Liberal think a new leader would be a good idea.
This represents a huge "enthusiasm gap" for the Liberal Party. Its the kind of factor that could depress their voter turnout, and turn marginal victories into marginal losses. To put these numbers in context, Stephen Harper is not one of the country's most loved political figures ever, but only 50 per cent think the Conservatives should replace him. And the vast majority of Conservative voters (74 per cent) are happy with him.
Bruce Anderson, the commentator I just quoted, thinks that it's not because of a "visceral dislike" but more due to "disinterest". He isn't alienating people, but he isn't really attracting them, either. Perhaps. But we all should remember that this is the man that the Liberals dumped Stephane Dion for, who was supposed to be their Kennedy or Trudeau. Nothing of the sort has taken place. He isn't even inspiring the loathing he once did when he was espousing the now-laughable value of "American Empire".

Progressive and liberal leaders aren't inspiring much support these days. Certainly neither Nick Clegg nor Barack Obama have been very attractive progressive party leaders lately. But they're in government, and are making the tradeoffs inherent to governance. Ignatieff doesn't even have that. He's that most unfortunate of creatures: a bland, uninspiring opposition leader. If he's to have any hope at all, he needs to break out of that. He needs to give people a reason to give a damn about him.

(And while I'm discussing Canada, I'll ask again: what did the Liberals do to the Eugene Forsey Liberal? Edit: He's back now. Still, the question remains.)

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