Monday, August 23, 2010

Iggy's Weekend (The Steep Learning Curve Express)

Iggy's cross Canada tour rolled into British Columbia this weekend and while the results are not spectacular one gets the sense from various newspaper reports out that way, that he is making headway and some converts. It helps of course to have the ideologically driven Tories constantly putting their foot in it seemingly every day of the summer. Liberals traditionally trail New Democrats and Conservatives in B.C. But while Grits remain in third place on the West Coast, a new Angus Reid poll reveals support has been on the upswing both for the party and its leader. So there's hope for west-coast Liberals and a chance for Michael Ignatieff to garner momentum going into the next session of Parliament.

He kicked it off in Nanaimo on Friday with Ujjal Dosanjh, Liberal member of Parliament for Vancouver South, Ken Dryden, hockey legend and MP for York Centre and Liberals from Vancouver Island and Ottawa. At the Mon Petit Choux Cafe he greeted and shook hands with supporters and gave a speech. His speech was interrupted by protesters chanting, “what's the deal, Michael Ignatieff?” Ignatieff shrugged it off, saying “they're Canadian citizens just like us.”

He then turned the protest (against his support of the seal hunt) into an opportunity to delineate between himself and his rival Mr. Harper, thereby proving the value of the summer long meet and greet tour when he used the moment and stressed ...the distinction between the Liberals and the ruling Conservatives, saying Prime Minister Stephan Harper doesn't understand “the difference between adversaries and enemies.”

There were also visits to Victoria, Squamish and into the heart of Conservative territory, the Fraser Valley, where he was savvy enough to put aside politics for the evening. The Richmond Review reported that a small crowd was there to see him present their town with a copy of his great grandfather’s diary at the Yale Historic Site -- and Ignatieff read to the small crowd the pages written by his grandfather during his stay in Yale, B.C.

After presenting the pages of the diary to Bronwyn Punch, president of the Yale Historical Society, along with a copy of the book Ocean to Ocean, Ignatieff toured the museum before heading off on the Liberal Express bus to Kamloops.

Earlier in the day, Ignatieff stopped for a short time in Abbotsford and toured the Bakerview eco-dairy.

He won over at least one new voter who blogged that all that he'd heard about Iggy proved to be false and he found him to be ...funny, engaging, curious and interested when talking to the people. He was “present” and remarked on several different local situations.

None of this is definitive but it does mark a turning point for Michael as a politician in that he's finally becoming one. It's a lot easier to theorize about what one would do as a politician than actually being one as Iggy has learned this past 18 months or so. He has been engaged in an unscripted, summer long dialogue with Canadians across the country, done a creditable job rarely setting a foot wrong and learned how to turn tough situations into opportunities. We'll soon see if this translates into he and the Liberals being a more effective opposition soon. Let's hope so.

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