Sunday, March 20, 2011

Shove It Back Down Their Throats

If you caught Ignatieff today on Question Period, you saw him respond to the latest personal attack, this time on his family. There is a school of thought, pointed out by Andrew Coyne, that you don't respond to attacks of this sort, primarily because the argument is on terrain chosen by your opponent(Coyne mentions "whiny"). However, in this instance I would argue you not only respond, as Ignatieff forcefully did, but you VOLUNTEER the discussion at every turn possible:
The ploy has infuriated the Liberal Leader, who used an interview with CTV’s Question Period Sunday to call the Conservative attack a distortion of the truth that crosses the line.

“My family lost everything in the Russian revolution. They started over again in Canada. They came here with nothing,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “My dad laid [railway] track in British Columbia. He put himself through university. He lived the immigrant story.”

The quote here doesn't do justice to the disgust Ignatieff demonstrated, turning this issue around into a statement about Stephen Harper, how they will say or do anything in the name of power, how they are no boundaries, it's just gutter politics of a kind Canadians won't endorse.

Unlike our American cousins, our political discourse tends to have "don't go there" parameters, we like to think a certain civility exists, an honour amongst thieves at the very least. This low, low brow assault the Conservatives have launched against Ignatieff's family is actually an opportunity. Not an opportunity of our chosing, but one the Conservatives have clumsily given us, and one we should now welcome.
In response, the Liberal Leader accused the Tories of twisting the facts and acting outside the bounds of decency. “Their attack on me is a disgrace. They’ve attacked my patriotism. They’ve attacked my commitment to the country. And now they’re attacking my family.”

He said the Tories’ targeting of his character and family is unparalleled in this country. “These personal attacks are unprecedented in the history of Canadian democracy,” Mr. Ignatieff charged.

“[Stephen Harper] is absolutely out of control. He thinks he can get away with and say anything,” the Liberal Leader said. “A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. I am a proud Canadian. I won’t take that from him or from anybody else.”

He added: “Canadians got to ask themselves is this the kind of politics you want? This is a prime minister who is prepared to say anything to hold on to power.”

Do you reward these people with your vote? Do you sanction the lowly attacks on Ignatieff's family, is this what you want, will you endorse it at the ballot box? I can't think of more fertile ground than a discussion about all that is wrong with Ottawa, clearly implicating this "regime" as the primary force, a referendum on how the Harper government operates. While the Liberals aren't setting the world on fire, Conservatives shouldn't comfort themselves, because their is clearly widespread "disgust" with our current political discourse. Who bears responsibility?

On this question, Ignatieff can get heated, indignant, the issue almost demands a free pass on the soapbox, a lecturing tone. No, rather than just let this pass, Liberals need to embrace the attacks on Ignatieff's family, because you simply will never find a more offensive example of the "politics of personal attacks", it's the money shot, the glory hole.

I can almost guarantee, on this issue, the Conservatives will lose and Ignatieff will have a sympathetic ear. People can get lost in the semantics of what is historical fact, it doesn't matter in the least, the general theme is clear and unmistakable. There is nothing worse than going after someone's family, we all know that line and this is why the Liberals should shove it back down their throats, with zeal!


Kirk said...

And the Cons will throw another staffer or somebody under the bus and say Canadians only want to talk about Libya, er, the economy.

Jerry Prager said...

I still think he is a man approaching the moment of his destiny, when speaking from the heart, will complement his mental abilities to deconstruct Harper and his regime.

Skinny Dipper said...

Ignatieff did mention on CTV's Question Period that he does not take attacks on him personally. He was right to mention that a Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. When Conservative supporters attack Ignatieff on his Canadian identity, they attack all Canadians--new citizens and long-time Canadians.

I think this is going to be an interesting and unpredictable election. Both Harper and Layton will be predictable as experienced campaigners. Ignatieff may or may not perform well. On Question Period, I think he spoke well. How he does on the campaign trail, Canadians will see and judge. My only prediction is that the election vote percentage for each party will not be the same as the current polls.

Kirk said...

This can be a small example of how the Cons lie to Canadians but the election cannot, in the slightest way, be about how mean the Cons are to Ignatieff.

Prairie Kid said...

And only Conservatives go after MP's personal lives???? Check out Kinsella's blog. And here I thought Liberals were all for people's choice in their own sexuality.

Kirk said...


Mulroney's closer to the Cons than Kinsella is to the Liberal leadership nowadays.

And does deflection just come as second nature to Con partisans such as Prairie Kid?

Steve V said...

They have to deflect, because they can't handle the subject matter. It just means they have nothing left... Sad, but true.

Shiner said...

Give Prairie Kid a break, he's getting beat up over at BCL too. Yeah he's stupid, but I'm pretty sure he knows it at this point.

JimmE said...


Steve has a great point if you disagree, great, good times. But just so you know, when you change the subject - you loose, it's called discourse, you should look into it.
In the meantime I'd really like you to offer an example of your Bullshit. Please, really, do it!
I read Mr K often & I think he'd love to send you a registered letter. Meantime do some reading on how to have a conversation, & maybe change your Jim-Jams.

WesternGrit said...

Can't wait for the election debates... This is what Harper fears. Iggy's gonna tear Harper a new one!

rabbit said...

If you go to, the official site of the LPC, there's a big honkin' video of Ignatieff's personal life history.

Right there. Right at the top. Can't miss it.

Ignatieff made this an issue all by himself.

Steve V said...

And now bugs does the exact same thing!

Loraine Lamontagne said...

Well, Rabbit, Harper has showed up on my tv screen accompanied by his wife and kids lately. You would therefore feel it fair game if we started to ridicule his wife and kids because Harper made his wife and kids an issue all by himself?

What kind of Con game do you want to play?

Mark Francis said...

Responding to personal attacks can be problematic... but not always. Anyone remember this one?

"Mr. Lévesque has said that part of my name was Elliott and, since Elliott was an English name, it was perfectly understandable that I was for the NO side, because, really, you see, I was not as much of a Quebecer as those who are going to vote YES.

That, my dear friends, is what contempt is. It means saying that there are different kinds of Quebecers. It means that saying that the Quebecers on the NO side are not as good Quebecers as the others and perhaps they have a drop or two of foreign blood, while the people on the YES side have pure blood in their veins. That is what contempt is and that is the kind of division which builds up within a people, and that is what we are saying NO to.

Of course my name is Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Yes, Elliott was my mother's name. It was the name borne by the Elliotts who came to Canada more than two hundred years ago. It is the name of the Elliotts who, more than one hundred years ago, settled in Saint-Gabriel de Brandon, where you can still see their graves in the cemetery. That is what the Elliotts are. My name is a Québec name, but my name is a Canadian name also, and that's the story of my name.

Since Mr. Lévesque has chosen to analyse my name, let me show you how ridiculous it is to use that kind of contemptuous argument.

Mr. Pierre-Marc Johnson is a Minister. Now, I ask you, is Johnson an English name or a French name?

And Louis O'Neill - a former Minister of Mr. Lévesque's - Robert Burns, and Daniel Johnson; I ask you, are they Quebecers, yes or no?

And, if we are looking at names, I saw in yesterday's newspaper that the leader of Quebec's Inuit, the Eskimos, they are going to vote NO. Do you know what the leader's name is? His name is Charlie Watt. Is Charlie Watt not a Quebecer? These people have lived in Quebec since the Stone Age; they have been here since time immemorial. And Mr. Watt is not a Quebecer?

And, according to yesterday's newspaper, the chief of the Micmac Band, at Restigouche, the chief of fifteen hundred Indians- what is his name? Ron Maloney. Is he not a Quebecer? The Indians have been there for a good two thousand years. And their chief is not a Quebecer?

My dear friends, Laurier said something in 1889, nearly one hundred years ago now, and it s worth taking the time to read these lines: "My Countrymen," said Laurier, "are not only those in whose veins runs the blood of France. My countrymen are all those people- no matter what their race or language- whom the fortunes of war, the twists and turns of fate, or their own choice, have brought among us."

All Quebecers have the right to vote YES or NO - and all those NO's are as valid as any YES, regardless of the name of the person voting, or the colour of his skin. "

May 14, 1980

rabbit said...


If a politician wants to use his or her life story as a campaign tool, fine.

But the accuracy of that life story then becomes fair political game, and to accuse people of making "personal attacks" when they question that accuracy is pure posturing.

Steve V said...

In baseball, they call that a "whiff"

Niles said...

When 'questioning the accuracy of someone's life story' comes under the lede of 'he's only posing as one of you, he's really a secret kenyan raised in a madrassa' you don't care about accuracy, you care about screwing your opponent into the ground with any bullshit you can make stick.

PK and his masters have to reach up from their indignant 'high ground' to touch the underbelly of a wyrm at the bottom of the deepest ocean rift.

A real Prairie Kid (well hell, if s/he and hir boyzos is going to start this...)

Loraine Lamontagne said...

Rabbit - I have doubts about the 'accuracy' of events when they are determined by political opponents who were not alive at the time the events took place.

Did you know George Ignatieff personally? How many Conservative operatives who now claim to know the real truth about George Ignatieff have ever met George Ignatieff? You afford more credibility to people who have never met a person than to his son who knew him well. It doesn't make sense to me.

The Conservatives are playing silly games. They should spend more time checking the backgrounds of the people they employ in the PMO.

kitt said...

I watched Question Period and cheered as Ignatiff drove his points into the despicable "harper government" antics and even Jane Tabor.

More, more.......

How pathetic to lie about someone's immigrant father!!! And then woo immigrants for their votes!! How does it feel to have that Harper/Jason scum all over you? GAD!

My parents also lost everything to the Communists and fled to Canada, making a life here for their families. Yes, a Canadian is a Canadian and it is NOT harper's Canada!

Anonymous said...

I remember when a certain liberal used a purple stuffed animal to mock Stockwell Days religion and the outrage from Torys and some MSM journalists, attacking a mans religion was out of line, and oh how the Liberals laughed. So what is it guys, is there a set of rules you have that no one else knows about? Kinsella and the libs decided that since Day brougt religion into the debates it could be used against him. Ignatief is trying to call himself an immigrant typical of todays immigrants and, the Cons are using the same tacts as the Chretien/Kinsella team did. So, whats the big deal? Maybe it wasnt so funny back then eh?

Tof KW said...

gwilliamjr said...
I remember when a certain liberal used a purple stuffed animal to mock Stockwell Days religion and the outrage from Torys and some MSM journalists

Typical immature and moronic response from a Reformatory apologist. The famous "But Jamie hit me first" defense one would expect from a five-year old.

A person who thinks the earth is only 6000 years old, and that the Flintstones was a documentary, most definitely deserves an autres regard by the media if they are seeking to become PM. Day was clearly unfit for the job, and me (supporting the PCs at the time) well I was laughing my ass off at your choice for leader.

Highlighting someone's views that counter basic science, or them holding fundamentalist views on religion ...are fair game.

Attacking someone's family is not.

Nice try gwilliamjr, thanks for playing.

BTW - anyone else here notice the Reformatory trolls are getting especially lame lately? It's almost effortless shooting them down these days.

WesternGrit said...

They are getting easier to shoot down TK... It's almost like they're distracted or something. Maybe they're worried about an election. Maybe they've been assigned - by great leader's warroom - too many radio call-in shows and newspaper write-ins to be coherent in any one. Perhaps Opposition voices are increasing, and they're having a hard time keeping up? Speaks to me of a solidifying of a Liberal base.

As an immigrant child - parents came over here. I can attest to the true modern immigrant experience. Most "regular" immigrants these days are the lucky few who have enough money to leave their former countries. Our parents flew over on jet airplanes, and came here usually to study (particularly those who came in the 60's and 70s, and even 80s. More recently lots have come to labor as well.

The Ignatieffs were the pre-cursors to the modern refugee. People like the Ignatieffs came over in much hardship - sailing over the ocean. Crowded ships, vermin, disease, and the like. Today, there are still a class of immigrants who suffer escaping hostile regimes, torture, hardship on ocean voyages, etc. Conservatives today would question these refugees as "terrorists", and would prefer to lock them up in detainment centers.

Yup - Ignatieff's family's immigrant experience would have been different today for sure - Harper would have had them locked up as possible subversives/terrorists... possibly returning many of them to the clutches of dangerous European regimes.