By Adam Radwanski, Globe and Mail, April 20, 2011
If the two men were being graded by civics teachers, Mr. Ignatieff would indeed be winning. His explanation of how another Conservative minority would work – the need for Mr. Harper to gain the confidence of Parliament, the possibility that a failure to do so will lead the Governor-General to turn to Mr. Ignatieff instead – is grounded in parliamentary conventions. Mr. Harper’s insistence that only the party with the most seats can govern, and anyone else attempting to do so is usurping the will of the people, is an open defiance of those conventions.
But the leaders are not being judged by civics teachers; they’re being judged by an electorate looking for a reasonably concise explanation of what its options are. Mr. Harper is providing that, however misleadingly. Mr. Ignatieff is not.
Sorry Mr. Radwanski, the country is far more sophisticated and demanding than you and your Conservative advocates would like. Your belittling of the civic teacher "grading," just like Mr. Harper's belittling of the motion of "contempt of parliament" is your way of skating over bumpy, but nevertheless real, ice.
The devil is in the details, as the cliche says. And Mr. Ignatieff has not fallen into Harper's trap at all. And if he and you both think he has, you have missed the real point of the issue.
Smoothing over the fine print, as Harper has done so many times, and as Margaret Atwood alludes to in her piece "election 2011, a dark fiction" in yesterday's Globe and Mail, in an attempt to make it possible for him to avoid telling the truth, while bullying the electorate into the mistaken notion that only a Conservative majority will be able to give Canada the government we need, merely points to the emptiness of Mr. Harper's political offering.
No, Mr. Radwanski, it is Harper who has fallen into the trap of his own hubris, into the trap of believing that only he can save this country from the many boogey-men he sees lurking near the barn door, ready to kill the fattened animals.
Trouble is, the fat cows are all he has left, as his political base, and the farm be being overrun by the people who are tired of having the playing field sloped uphill, while for the fat cows, it is all downhill.
Canada has an opportunity to elect our own Vaclav Havel, a writer, a visionary, and a man of letters and intellect, not to mention integrity, in Michael Ignatieff, and the anti-intellectual, corporate suits are nervous that we are not the kind of country that Harper has tried to turn us into. We are not the U.S. and we do not want another "Bush-light"government and we do not subscribe to Bush-light attitudes, policies and camouflage of the truth to fit an ideology which has proven its mean-spirited, insensitive and cold harsh intent far too often for all of us to see.
We want to close the gap between the rich and the poor, not open it wider.
We want to feed, cloth and care for our people, not leave them entirely to the ravages of the "survival of the fittest jungle.
We want to educate and to debate and to forge a new and more hopeful alliance with a diverse range of people and views, not narrow the intellectual and the ideological vein of politics and culture to the rich and the wannabe's.