Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Whose Ego is Bigger?

Ignatieff, Harper in duel of egos
Posted 3 hours ago

This week's sabre-rattling between Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper over a summer election has all the makings of an epic battle over which leader has the biggest, um, sword.

Forget the worst economic crash in decades, the collapsing industries, the thousands of Canadians losing their their jobs, their savings, their pensions, their homes.

If the political jousting between Iggy and the PM is any indication, the country is at risk of being dragged out of the pool and off to the polls in July over duelling egos.

Harper, of course, is no slouch in the larger-than-life department, having spent the past three years successfully muzzling his ministers, and generally trying to put an iron grip on everyone and everything government.

Today, the Conservative administration remains predominantly all Harper all the time.

But make no mistake, there's a new ego-slinger in town with the potential to make "l'etat c'est moi" an understatement in both official languages.

As the Commons headed into its final week before the scheduled (and long overdue) summer break, Ignatieff held a press conference to set out the Liberal party's four conditions for not voting the country into a mid-summer's nightmare election.

For the first 15 minutes, Ignatieff spoke from a written text about what his party and fellow MPs were expecting from the Harper government.

But as soon as Ignatieff left his prepared text and went to questions from reporters, the political situation at hand was suddenly all about him.

By our rough count, in less than 20 minutes of answering reporters, Ignatieff used one word over 100 times -- "I."

For example, one of the Liberal demands on the Harper government to avoid an election vote at the end of this week is some enriched proposals for employment insurance (EI).

"I have said that I'm looking for co-operation," Ignatieff said.

"I will judge the proposals that I'm calling for . . . I require he (the PM) come forward with proposals now, not in the fall . . . I am pragmatic. I am prepared to make compromises."

Ignatieff was asked about leaving Harper an easy way out of a summer election.

"I know Canadians aren't crazy about an election, especially eight months after the last one . . . I accept the results of that election, and I'm just trying to work with government.

"I voted for the (January) budget even though I had some questions about it because I thought it was better for Canadians than the opposite. So that's why I did it."

And so it went for the entire press conference. As it happens, Ignatieff's proposed changes to EI

have caused divisions within his own caucus and party, just as there is among Canadian voters.

No surprise there -- the Liberals are proposing to change EI to provide a full year of payments to anyone who works a minimum 360 hours -- what the Conservatives accurately call a 45-day working year.

Asked if the Liberals would bend to a compromise from the Conservatives, Iggy said he would consider proposals from Harper, and "I will determine whether he's helping out the unemployed."

One of the Conservatives' latest attack ads aimed at Ignatieff claims the Liberal leader is in national politics for himself: "It's not about you; it's just about him."

While there seems to have been mixed reaction to the ads among average Canadian voters, Liberal MPs must be wondering if the Conservatives have a point.

Adding a crisis to a crisis is not impressive - lets get people working stop making useless points at our taxpayers expense PR

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