THUNDER BAY – The visiting-professor horns on the head of the wannabe prime minister were supposed to come off this week. Liberal partisan spin was that those horns, “unfairly” planted by Liberal opponents, would be pried off by the professor himself during this week’s debates. Sorry Liberal partisans. The professor is getting a failing grade.
To use a little egghead, ivory tower lingo, the central organizing principle of the Liberal argument was unsound.
Liberal shills have never been able to admit the visiting professor label was well earned by the real Michael Ignatieff. It wasn’t the product of right-wing fantasy.
Many card-carrying Liberals did not support Ignatieff when he tried to succeed Paul Martin. Many of them were for Bob Rae despite the fact a majority of Ontario voters either outright loathe Rae or outright dismiss the idea he can ever be trusted to be a responsible guardian of the Ontario or national economy.
Despite all the baggage Rae earned after becoming an accidental premier two decades ago, many Liberals still preferred Rae to Ignatieff because they perceived Ignatieff as someone outside the Canadian mainstream.
They thought of him as a visiting public intellectual, a visiting professor, long before I did my monologues which gave him the name, long before I registered the domain, visitingprofessor.ca, long before the Tory ads messaging the message, “Michael Ignatieff, just visiting.”
Can anyone name any moment in the debate that managed to peel some alien paint from the face of Michael Ignatieff?
When Jack Layton came in from behind and delivered the head shot about Ignatieff’s low-attendance record at House of Commons votes, it shredded the Liberal spin job.
Layton’s line revealed to voters that Ignatieff wasn’t just a visting professor to Canada. Ignatieff is just visiting when it comes to democracy.
Ignatieff’s typical condescending response was he didn’t require any lessons on democracy from Layton. Iggy would be right about that if only Layton had been wrong about his assertion.
Layton offered the data point — there’s that egghead language again, Iggy’s contagious — of 70%. He said Ignatieff missed 70% of the votes and in the real world when someone misses work 70% of the time, he shouldn’t expect a promotion.
And so here’s Jack Layton, who according to the polls is more trusted by John and Mary Canadian Tire than Michael Ignatieff, saying Ignatieff is not prime minister-worthy because the visiting professor doesn’t even want to visit Parliament Hill.
Is Jack Layton wrong?
Everyone agrees it was a great zinger. It can’t be great if it’s not based on the truth.
Liberal Partisans say it’s not true. Their argument is laughable. Iggy did miss most of those votes. But he was trying to beef up his brand with bus tours and his first visits to those quaint little stores with pedestrian coffee and those greasy little things with the holes in the middle that would never be served at the Ignatieff villa in the south of France.
Speaking of public housing, we know the Ignatieffs can’t stand the thought of living at the opposition residence, Stornoway. If he ever did manage to stage a coalition coup and become PM, would he and his wife hold their noses and “slum” it for a while by moving in to 24 Sussex?
Would they at least visit once in a while for the photo ops?
Charles Adler is a national radio columnist, whose show runs on the Corus Radio Network. Charles can be heard Monday to Friday online by visiting www.charlesadler.com.
Charles Adler will also be on the new SunMedia Newsnetwork which starts broadcasting on April 18th.
Adler’s column appears on NetNewsledger.com on a regular basis, as a means of offering new ideas, insights and opinion to the region.