Saturday, May 02, 2009

LibCon 2009: liveblogging Iggy

Former human rights advocate Michael Ignatieff is now leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, by a 97% vote (there were some spoiled ballots).

With the inevitable boosting and fawning overtures, the man who would be king has just assumed the stage to give his acceptance speech. I am alone here in the bloggers' room, hoping to avoid serious aura contamination.

6:30 "I'll give this job everything I've got...our time has come...unity in diversity..."

6:34 "We will lead you back to prosperity."

6:39 Much talk about "the Canadian way." EI reform is on the table. We need a knowledge society, where what counts is what you know--not who you know." A society with accessible childcare: one where "women get equal pay for work of equal value." (This although he abandoned the concept just weeks ago by supporting Harper's Bill C-10, which makes pay equity negotiable and punishes unions that try to represent members who seek it.)

6:40 Ignatieff wants a Canada where every aboriginal can have a "world-class, not a second class education." No to illiteracy, disability not a barrier, training for the unemployed....

6:47 Support for training and for research.

6:48 We offer tolerance and diversity and citizenship to a troubled and sometimes tormented world. People can belong in their own way....

6:52 We are a serious people....Where there is no peace to keep we will fight.

6:54 (speaks directly to Stephen Harper): "You have played province against province, group against group, region against region, individual against individual." "You don't understand Canada." While Harper divides, a leader should unite the people of this country. "Mr. Harper, you have failed us."

6:56 We can build on the basis of cooperation, not confrontation. "We can...yes, we can." (Good grief.) "Let us dare to dream, but let us also dare to act." We are "a great people with a great future."

[The speech ends. A flood of clichés with nuggets of policy, or are they even that? What does Ignatieff stand for--really? Pay equity if necessary, but not necessarily pay equity? Peace or war? Setting an example for the world, or sacrificing poor people on the altar of free trade with Columbia and deadly asbestos imports to India?

Your guess is as good as mine. But guess it is.

In fairness, an address of this kind is not meant to do much more than inspire and uplift with personal vision. But in this case I found that vision--other than the "we unite, the Conservatives divide" theme--to be vague and unsatisfying, for the most part boilerplate Liberal rhetoric mixed with ambiguous intentions.

Comments are welcome, especially from those who listened to the speech.

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