Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Essay.

Ok we'll bite.

Here is the intro to the essay circulating among the Liberal faithful. With thanks to James Curran for forwarding it to us. We have not had the benefit of reading the entire 29 page document yet but we are impressed with the initiative.

The New Treason of Old Ideas

by Alfred Apps *
“When was it less than treason for a man to go with the drift of things?” Robert Frost

Canadians from outside Quebec have always had difficulty understanding Quebec and most of their political leaders have never much worried about that. The easier path to power has always been to play to Anglophone voters who want a Canada where Quebec is kept firmly in its place just one more undifferentiated province like all the others. Michael Ignatieff has assaulted the indifference of Anglophones everywhere by saying he is open to accepting the idea of Quebec as a ‘nation’ within Canada, but only if, as and when the rest ofCanada is ready to do so. In response to Ignatieff’s candour and a similarly-oriented resolution passed recently by an overwhelming majority of federalist Liberals from Quebec –one that meekly seeks ‘official’ recognition of Quebec’s national character if, as and when the conditions are right -some serious political sensibilities have been aroused. Fear is now afoot that sacred Liberal doctrine on constitutional matters has come under serious attack. For Quebec’s nationalist wolves are not only at the gate again. They have come in federalist clothing. The long-slumbering ghosts of Charlottetown and Meech have been rudely awakened. Even Trudeau’s gravediggers have begun their work. Michel Ignatieff believes that Quebec is a nation within Canada! How could the frontrunner for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada say such a thing? Is he mad? Is he just a brazen opportunist, recklessly courting the Quebec vote without regard to the political consequences for Liberals in the rest of Canada? Is he just another egghead theorist, so wildly out of touch ordinary voters that he isblind to the risk he is taking? Does he not know that this sort of talk can only play right into the separatists’ hands?

Mr. Apps' email included the following note setting up the essay :

Dear Friends:

Many of you, knowing that I am both a strong support of Michael Ignatieff and an unrepentant devotee of Pierre Trudeau's vision of Canada, have enquired how I reconcile their two perspectives on the question of 'Quebec as a nation within Canada'. I was inspired to do so when, by happenstance, I ran into Justin Trudeau on November 1, 2006 in Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal. This was immediately after he had been reported in the press as saying "nationalism is an old idea" but prior to his remark that Ignatieff was "intelligent but not wise". I was able to engage him in discussion on the Quebec question for 15-20 minutes. In the course of that, I was struck by two things: the shallowness of his arguments were and how tenaciously he held on to them. After completing my own reflection, I have come to the conclusion that Pierre Trudeau, were he alive today, would endorse Michael Ignatieff's view and dismiss that of his own son.

The attached essay is rather long but, I hope, will prove useful to the current debate. I hope you will take the time to read it and look forward to receiving any comments you might have. Please feel free to forward it along to anyone who you think might find it useful.

Needless to say, the contents of the paper are my opinion only and ought not to be attributed to Michael Ignatieff or to the Ignatieff Campaign

We will be happy to email the entire essay to any of you who would care to read it.
Email us at


ap said...

After completing my own reflection, I have come to the conclusion that Pierre Trudeau, were he alive today, would endorse Michael Ignatieff's view and dismiss that of his own son.

In politics, as in sports there are what are known as game changing plays. The momentum shifts to the opposing team and sometimes the team that lost the momentum can't get it back -- not only in that specific game but sometimes in the entire season.

Sometimes entire careers are lost as a result of one play.

People have argued that Dennis Ekersley was never quite the same pitcher after Roberto Alomar homered off him in the ALCS in 1992.

Likewise the "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams simply never recovered off Joe Carter's home run in the 1993 World Series.

Of course entire forests have been felled to explain the tragic aftermath of Bill Bukner's screw up in the Wolrd Series between the Red Sox and the Mets.

Which brings us to the above quote. It would only be the most naive person to accept that Mr. Apps, with such senior position within the Ignatieff campaign, had not at least received the a-ok from the Michael Ignatieff to circulate this essay.

But the essay is only part of the problem. Apps as a senior member of the Ignatieff team cannot disassociate himself from the Ignatieff campaign no matter how hard he tried.

For Michael Ignatieff to allow one of his advisors to write the above slap in the face to Justin Trudeau is one thing but to allow him to write that Ignatieff is the true inheritor of the Trudeau vision of Canada is ... well ... "thems is fightin' words".

Frankly Ignatieff and his campaign would have been better off not making the Trudeau comparisons because for Ignatieff the moement is fast approaching when he will have his Dan Quayle moment.

There are far too many Liberals in this nation who at a moment's notice can credibly speak the words:

"I knew Pierre Trudeau. Pierre Trudeau was a friend of mine. But I can tell you one thing, Mr. Ignatieff, you're no Pierre Trudeau!"

The Ignatieff campaign finds itself once again in damage control mode.

At minimum Ignatieff should issue a statement declaring his disappointment in Mr. Apps'comments.

The expression goes, "when you mess with the bull, you get the horns" ... "when you mess with Pierre Trudeau ... you lose the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada."

It remains to be seen whose political career has been left in ruins as a reult of this; Apps', Ignatieff's or both.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, I didn't know there were people out there who didn't know Trudeau had died. He is no longer part of the Liberal party. I would say, let move on and let him rest in peace.

He was PM approx 40 years ago - yes, approx 40 years ago.

James Curran said...

Dear Anon,

your math sucks shit. Go back to school.

As for the Trudeau thing? Ignatieff's bloggers just spent 2 entire weeks dispelling Iggy ever being called "the next Trudeau". Now Apps has detroyed absolutely any defense they may have had.

This Ignatieff campaign is in a free-fall and waaaaay beyond the point of no return.

The What Do I Know Grit.

AP said...

He resigned in 1983 -- by my math that means that he was prime minister 23 years ago. 40 years ago would mean that he was prime minister in 1966 and we know that was impossible given that Trudeau was chosen Liberal leader in 1968.

Let's take a pause here and fondly remember that great Liberal prime minister Lester B. Pearson who served in that office from 1963 to 1968 ... approximately 40 years ago.

Anonymous, your bad math aside, the issue is not that whether we should let Trudeau rest in peace, the issue is that a high ranking member of Ignatieff's campaign has decided to fight the leadership on the premise that Ignatieff is the true inheritor of Pierre Trudeau's vision of Canada.

It is Ignatieff and his team who are knocking on the door of the Trudeau mausoleum.

One, the argument that Trudeau would endorse Ignatieff's vision is wrong. I'm certain that Trudeau was rolling in his coffin when he heard that Ignatieff wanted to to declare Quebec a nation.

Two, if this is the ground on which Ignatieff wants to fight then he should expect a hard fought battle -- one he will lose.

canuckistanian said...

if i believed in such absolutes, i would have to say the iggy campaign is evil incarnate.

AP said...


Michael Ignatieff's campaign is not evil, it is incompetent. We've all heard of the evil genius but never of the incompetent genius.

tobias said...

AP, your post was brilliant.

Nothing like a few sporting references to win my favour.

With respect to the quote "I knew Pierre Trudeau. Pierre Trudeau was a friend of mine. But I can tell you one thing, Mr. Ignatieff, you're no Pierre Trudeau!", if I am not mistaken Bob Rae is the only candidate to sit across from Pierre Trudeau in the house. Would he not be the perfect candidate to utter that now infamous phrase?

Please Mr. Rae. If you are reading this and you can find the appropriate moment over the next two weeks, we would be in your debt.

gritredordead said...

I could not have said it better myself. Iggy is in trouble. This essay would not otherwise be necessary.

AP said...

If Rae takes you up on the offer, I promise to pay for a flight to Northern Ontario. That flight will include NextFace, Rae and myself. I will film the event. The event will include NextFace and Raw sitting around the campfire singing Springsteen songs -- Rae can borrow the legendary NextFace portable electronic piano.

The campfire will feature both NextFace and Rae recounting old drug tales. The event will end with NextFace and Rae jumping into a frigid lake -- naked -- a la Rick Mercer.

That will be how NextFace closes down the blog. A picture of a bare assed NextFace standing beside the bare assed ... new ... leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

tobias said...

Wow! An official endorsement by AP! And read first on Next Face no less.

AP your siding with Rae should translate to scores of delegates moving to his camp.

Let us make this perfectly clear. Next Face remains vigorously objective in this debate and has yet to endorse a particular candidate. This in spite of our being downright giddy through the Dryden interview and somewhat awestruck through the hour of questions with Rae.

AP said...

Consider it to be a little more foreshadowing than and a little less endorsement

Anonymous said...

It is a given. If not Rae it will be the Dion Kennedy show.