Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Iggy's asymmetrical democracy

Christina Spencer wrote in "Ignatieff won't rule out 'star' grit candidates", (St. Catharines Standard, May 12, 2009):

"Michael Ignatieff urged Liberals to rebuild the party from the ground up yesterday, but wouldn't rule out unilaterally appointing individual candidates, a practice some call undemocratic.

The leader, who will be officially crowned tomorrow, had little choice but to state his stance after former prime minister John Turner threw down the gauntlet at the party's national convention.

Turner said the party, which had shrunk to an emaciated shell of its former self before Ignatieff took over in December, "will not be rebuilt from the top down. It has to be rebuilt from the bottom up."

"I don't want to see any leader-appointed candidates across the country," Turner told a meeting of riding association presidents.

Ignatieff, who has focused the Liberals' biennial convention on rebuilding the party organization at the level of individual ridings, said he didn't agree.

"I believe very strongly and I've said since I became leader, I want to open nominations in every (riding) in the country, I want to rebuild the party from the grassroots up.

"But I cannot abandon the prerogative of a leader to make those appointments that I deem necessary," Ignatieff said, adding he planned to use the power only "rarely."

Normally, potential candidates compete for their party's nomination in a riding; the victor squares off against other parties in a federal election.

But leaders have sometimes circumvented this grassroots exercise in democracy by appointing "star" candidates or members of minorities.

For instance, Liberal Ken Dryden was an appointed candidate, as were former leader Stephane Dion and John McCallum. The power has also been used to appoint female candidates.

Nicole Foster Woollatt, president of the National Women's Liberal Commission, said while the leader should make unilateral appointments only "sparingly," he should keep that power.

"It's not something you want to use frequently. But it can be important."

Ignatieff was also challenged yesterday on when the party will put forward more specific policy ideas.

He told reporters one big priority will be employment insurance reform, with specific proposals for a "national standard" coming soon.

As for Dion, the Liberals plan a tribute to him this evening, with speeches by former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin. Dion still faces a hefty tab of about $150,000 for his own Liberal leadership campaign back in 2006.

A fundraising cocktail bash also will be held for him to help retire that debt. Only four of the original 11 leadership contestants from that race have completely paid their debts. "

Iggy's tired old professorial "'x' if necessary, but not necessarily 'x'" routine is hilarious in its vague shiftiness, like when he used it back in Dec. 2008, describing his support for Stephane Bumbledore Dion's cobble-ition with the separatists as "Coalition if necessary, but not necessarily coalition". Now, when it comes to parachuting "star" Liberal candidates into easy ridings, vs. following a grassroots approach, well, once again, Iggy's views are as clear as Liberal mud.
Iggy says he believes in the grassroots approach; which is to say, he does - well, might - believe this, insofar as he's also inclined to believe in the Red Star Chamber-appointed approach!
Of course, the article above fails to mention that Iggy himself was parachuted into the Etobicoke South riding in 2005, mysteriously shutting out other nominated grassroot candidates in that riding...
(see: ;

see: )
...after having not lived in Canada for three decades!!
Then suddenly, Count Iggula pops up in Etobicoke as the Great Liberal Lord-to-be of the Canadian Dominion!!
Homegrown Grits are hard to find, apparently.

When asked about how he became a candidate, Iggy coyly said then: "I cannot speak to the process by which the party designated me as a candidate."

Now that he has been acclaimed not only as a candidate, but also acclaimed as Liberal party leader, a prevaricating Iggy still 'can't speak to the process which designates' certain Liberal candidates over others.

Oh, well... asymmetrical democracy is a proud Liberal trait. Iggy's turning out to be Dion Redux.

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