Ignatieff also acknowledges that he is repositioning his party: “Yes, I’m moving the party to the centre because I think we win from the centre. We win when people believe we are moderate, pragmatic, sensible party that connects to what Canadians are worried about.”
Some left of center people, like myself, get quite animated, after reading comments like the above. Not the low rent, kneejerk, intellectually challenged babies, but the genuine people, with genuine concerns about party direction. I've chosen my own version of pragmatism to reconcile any philosophical disconnect, others are free to do their own math, debate is healthy. The question really becomes- is the "center" a bad place politically?
When Ignatieff speaks of moving to the center, it is really nothing more than positioning ourselves to appeal to mainstream Canada. The center, by definition, is the place on the spectrum that has the capacity to appeal to the greatest percentage of Canadians. The Canadian "center" is nothing more than the middle ground between our societal extremes. With that simple fact in mind, it is hard to argue against positioning that is largely reflective and "connects". It's more a question of degree, than it is approach.
Supporting Ignatieff was always a compromise, based on my leanings. Reconciling the ideal with the practical, very much encapulated within our new position on the oil sands. If I was left to my own devices, put in charge, the tar sands would lie dormant, until somebody figured out a sustainable way to extract without doing great damage, no solution forecoming, no dirty oil. That's my personal view, but I've never been naive enough to think it extends beyond my wants, or is reflective of majority opinion. The fact of the matter, which I've known all along, the oil will be extracted, simple economic realities don't disappear, multi-nationals don't fold up because I attended a rally, the people directly affected will fight to keep projects moving forward- in other words, the tar sands are here to stay. The pragmatic view is to marry some semblance of environmental considerations with the other inate forces within the economy. That brings me back to Ignatieff, not ideal, but some recognition of environment moving forward. Maybe it's to do with my only face to face with Ignatieff, where we talked about the environment, and I came away with a sense of sincerity- he may be a good steward to balance all the forces at play. As it relates to the "center" the balancing act does speak to mainstream society, if samplings are a true indication, Ignatieff is right in the pocket in terms of "connection", not just in the "patch", but in places like Ontario too. One could argue that it's out of step in Quebec, but let's not forget that Harper the most right wing PM in our history was on the cusp of a real breakthrough, which suggests other issues tend to blur the spectrum debate in that province(see Mulroney too).
My point, I'll make the compromise, because after all, the "center" isn't some radical philosophy imposed on the Canadian people, it's where most of us live. It's really no different than Obama, who ran left in the primaries, like every successful Dem in history, then did a sizable shift in the general to curry favor, to amass a winning coalition of voters. I suspect Ignatieff is moving "us" for the same reason, and I have no problems with the Liberals looking "sensible" to the average Canadian, that's your overarching audience.
I see the difference between the two principle parties as such. One moved to the center to try and expand support, but within that political calculation, every opportunity taken to implement right leaning ideals, whether it be policy, program cuts or enhancements, government operation, some subtle things that in totality amount to seismic. I'm thinking needles, funding for science, arts, multilateralism at the UN, hard targets, EI as "lucrative", etc, etc. The other party is moving to the center under the same political calculus, but it will have a flirtation with progressive ideals, where merited, and that makes the contrast all the more important. Returning to my earlier example, if I have two choices as to federal government, overseeing something like the tar sands moving forward, I'll pick Ignatieff every single time.
If one eliminates their own particular view of the world, and extrapolates to Canada as a whole, trying to reconcile competiting interests, rather than imposing, then the "center" is entirely acceptable. Ideal no, realistic, why of course.