Not to rehash the National Geographic debate, but it is noteworthy, that since my first caution, we've seen the Bloc go hard at the Liberals, and now we see Quebec weather vein Chantal Hebert starting to connect the dots:
Since he has become leader, he has talked a good game about building bridges to a host of natural conservative constituencies but said very little about maintaining those that link the Liberal party to more progressive ones.
On the day when Trudeau was making his modest first entry on the left-hand side of the legislative ledger, his leader was taking pot shots at National Geographic magazine for a graphic depiction of the environmental impact of the Alberta oil sands, and making a pitch to rural Canada.
There is no doubt the Liberals should try to reintroduce themselves to voters in regions like Western and rural Canada, where they no longer have much presence, but the real question is: on what basis?
Ignatieff talks about the need to make up for years of Liberal neglect, but it is really his party's stance on some of the very issues that have distinguished the Liberals from Conservatives over the past decade – like Iraq, climate change and same-sex marriage – that have kept away many of the voters he is so determined to court.
Essentially what I've argued, the courtship of elusive voters, but done in such a one sided fashion, it leaves your other flank wanting. Nobody disputes the desire to "re-introduce", myself I'm 100% behind that goal, both philosophically and politically. However, if Ignatieff doesn't start demonstrating some balance, some articulation to the center-left, he risks framing himself as largely the same as the Conservatives, and his previous "pass" on the budget is now used against, to demonstrate the wider pattern.
It's no coincidence, or surprise, that we are beginning to hear some negative rumblings coming from Quebec, because Ignatieff is voluntarily positioning as though he's somewhat offside with palatable Quebec policy. If Liberals think the "nation" will suffice, and we can just take it all for granted, as we over reach for voters who require a spiritual epiphany to even consider, then I question the wisdom of the entire strategy.
I would take these early hints as valuable, and take some steps to nullify before they gel and a problem develops, which makes the whole strategy nothing more than treading relative water at best, hurting yourself overall at worst. And, PLEASE don't fall for the Liberal model of the 1990's, because you had the benefit of a political perfect storm, the right divided and largely impotent in key portions of the country for YEARS. It's pure folly to believe a re-creation is possible, because the landscape will never be so kind.
Ignatieff should reach out, Canada desperately needs a national unity figure. My concern has nothing to do with the strategy, but the nuance. Liberals don't need to out-Conservative the Conservatives to appeal, and if that's the gameplan, it fails to realize the erosion and understand the need to "distinguish". A truly sound strategy incorporates the hints and adapts, before things are allowed to fester.