The Biggest Losers

A long-time Liberal strategist explains the defeat of the once-mighty Grits
Illustration by Dushan Milic
It was 10:09, the morning after election night, the precise moment at which the immensity of the Liberal Party’s loss appeared on Michael Ignatieff’s haggard face. He stood before journalists at a Toronto hotel and called himself “a teacher born and bred.” He was done with politics, he said, and was going back to the classroom. (Indeed, within a few days he would announce that he had accepted a position at the University of Toronto.) And that was that. The Liberal Party of Canada was leaderless and reduced to the ignominy of third-party status in the House of Commons.

Ignatieff’s senior advisers, the ostensibly smart ones he had brought in to make him a winner, had invoked a backroomer’s cliché — that “campaigns matter” — to persuade the leader to defeat Stephen Harper’s Conservative government on a confidence motion at the end of March. Ignatieff’s team told him he could only do better on the campaign trail than his predecessor, Stéphane Dion, had. And, in fact, Ignatieff did. Throughout April, he proved to be a far better campaigner than Harper as well. The reporters who travelled with Ignatieff, and the Liberals who came out in the thousands to hear him, were surprised by his passion. Why, then, did he lose so badly? Didn’t the campaign matter?

Campaigns matter, sure. But for the once-great Liberal Party, the 2011 election was lost before it was even called. First of all, the Tories’ multimillion-dollar anti-Ignatieff advertising campaigns, however despicable, were highly effective. By the time Ignatieff and his palace guard decided to strike back, it was too late. And, ironically, the election campaign attack ads marshalled by both the Conservatives and the Liberals principally benefited the New Democrats; disgusted voters were propelled toward a third party.

The second reason for the Liberals’ failure was the terrible strategic error of voting to defeat the government when they did. The Tories had been outpolling the Grits for months and had an overwhelming fundraising and organizational advantage. Experienced senior Liberals, like campaign manager Gordon Ashworth, pleaded with Ignatieff to wait for the political environment to become more favourable. Despite all this, however, Ignatieff pushed for an election he could not win.

The third factor in the defeat is more contentious, but just as real. When Ignatieff had a chance to effectively eliminate NDP leader Jack Layton as the only other progressive choice; when Ignatieff had an opportunity, long before the election, to craft a deal with the NDP, for co-operation, or a coalition, or even a merger, he emphatically said no. In June 2010, with his former leadership rivals Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc standing behind him in a House of Commons hallway soberly nodding their heads, Ignatieff declared that he wanted nothing to do with the NDP. Forming an alliance with the NDP was “ridiculous,” he snorted.

That declaration gave Stephen Harper what he most desired. For good measure, he even invoked the spectre of the “Liberal-socialist-separatist coalition” on the very first day of the campaign. Once again, Ignatieff fell into line. The Liberal Party “will not enter a coalition with other federalist parties,” Ignatieff insisted. If it hadn’t had such brutal consequences, Ignatieff’s willingness to dance to Harper’s tune would have been comical.

In crass political terms, co-operation (or coalition, or merger) makes sense. The Conservatives’ grip on power is maintained, more than anything else, by the inability of progressives to get their act together. For the past three elections, Harper has remained in office with the support of no more than 40 percent of the electorate. If some, or all, of the other 60 percent were to come together in a single, formidable force, the Conservatives would be defeated.

A united Liberal–New Democratic option would benefit both parties. The two neatly offset each other’s weaknesses. Liberals have gravitas and experience in governing, skills the federal New Democrats still lack. The NDP has a robust fundraising capacity, as well as a strong relationship with its grassroots, both lingering Grit deficiencies. In policy terms, more unites the two parties than divides them. New Democrats are, as Jean Chrétien likes to say, mainly “Liberals in a hurry.” A united progressive party — a Liberal-Democratic Party, if you will — acknowledges the natural evolution, and the binary political universe. A united left is commonplace in most other Western democracies. What’s unusual is that it hasn’t yet happened in Canada.

One day back in October 2009, Ian Davey, chief of staff to Ignatieff, slumped in a chair in his modest Parliament Hill office. “I tried,” he said, looking grim. “He won’t do it.”

Davey and I and others had been attempting to convince Ignatieff that he desperately needed a winning ballot question. His late-summer promise to defeat the Harper government and force a general election had sent the party into a tailspin. Whatever popularity we had enjoyed was slipping away. Simultaneously, the government had been equivocating on ending Canada’s military presence in Afghanistan in 2011. Despite an all-party resolution favouring the conclusion of our combat role, it was clear that many among the hawkish Conservatives wanted us to stay.

Davey — the son of the legendary Grit rainmaker, Keith Davey, and a friend who had brought me to Ottawa to run the Liberal war room — thought an election fought on extending the war could end badly for the Conservatives. Even better, it would banish a few ghosts for the Liberals. Ignatieff had secured the leadership months earlier, and was still dogged by concerns from the party’s left wing. In his writing and media appearances, the former Harvard professor had been an enthusiastic proponent of the war in Iraq, unambiguously pro-American and, seemingly, an advocate of “coercive interrogation” with terror suspects. His position had put him at odds with others in the party. After nearly a decade in Afghanistan, some of us felt we had done our share, with too many Canadian lives lost. We thought it was time for other Western nations to step up. In the coming election, Liberals should be the ones favouring an end to the war. Let the Harper regime, with its bellicose military rhetoric and its willingness to give the generals whatever shiny new toy they desired, become the party that favoured war with no end.

“We can banish the pro-American, pro-torture, pro-Iraq war stuff in one move,” I had said to Davey and others in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. “We’d pick up a ton of NDP and Bloc support. And Harper will be caught in the quagmire like John McCain was. It’s perfect.”

But Ignatieff wouldn’t do it. Not only would he not even discuss the notion, Davey said; he was angry that we had suggested it in the first place. When I asked Davey what he’d said to Ignatieff, he replied, “I told him we just wanted him to, you know, win the fucking election. That’s all.”
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41 comment(s)

AnonymousJune 14, 2011 08:22 EST

You just couldn\'t stop yourself from associating Alberta with anger and bigotry, could you Warren. Thanx for the label.

KatJune 14, 2011 08:22 EST

'A long time Liberal strategist....' Nah. A career strategist.

Mr. Kinsella has shallow roots that grow towards his latest employer.

MegannetyJune 14, 2011 08:23 EST

I always find it quite amusing when the people who caused the current state of the Liberal Party pontificate about how "they" tried to tell us peons who bang in the signs and slug through the snow and send in the $20 every time we are asked, what went wrong.

What went wrong with the Party is we listened and let them spew their half-truths and spin.

The party atrophied because we had too many strategists, war roomers and communications gurus and too few who know which end of the stake goes in the ground.

meJune 14, 2011 08:23 EST

so will the liberal/ndp learn and change their ways to join for success, or will they remain two proud losers ?

Burt MapsonJune 14, 2011 08:23 EST

What a load of self serving pap. "Oh what a brilliant advisor am I". Newsflash Warren.... people didn't vote for the Liberals precisely because they swung to the Lyeft... If you are going to vote for a leftist party, why not vote for the real leftist party? All Iggy did was give Layton and the NDP credibility... especially in Quebec where Iggy had none to begin with. Harper wanted the Liberals to move left and they did. Even joined together, its too far for most Canadian's... can you imagine - Socialists without a conscience?

If Iggy had moved right (where clearly he's more at home himself), Harper would have at best got a smaller minority and the Liberals would be the official opposition). As a fiscal conservative who's hated the Liberals since Trudeau nearly ripped the country apart, I must say that I'm delighted the Liberals are still trying to out left the NDP... Its been great fun watching them jump off the cliff like lemmings... led by clueless advisors like WK/Grit Girl.

SylwiaJune 14, 2011 08:23 EST

Preach it, Mr. Kinsella! It's time to stop the pissing contests on the left and provide Canadians with a voice in the running of our country! I hope you get the top strategy job when it happens.

Ray TaylorJune 14, 2011 08:24 EST

Interesting article, but obviously the Liberals still don't get it.

For starters, it was (and still is) the intellectual arrogance of the Liberals (what you call Gravitas), as exemplified by Michael Ignatieff, that was out of step with the Canadian population. While this might have worked in the past, the influence of the intellectual elite in Canada has greatly diminished both in business and in our social-democratic institutions. The only people that find the Liberal party appealling are those with advanced graduate degrees with aspirations to traditional leadership tracks. This is hardly representative of the Canadian population. The gains of the Cons and the NDP is precisely about a new Canadian awakening to populism.

Next, it is misleading to say that Liberals are left-wing progressive. Since the days of Chretien and Martin, the Liberal party took a rather sharp turn to the right, and the traditional appeal to the left now rings hollow with most Canadians. Nobody really believes a Liberal when they try to coin Canadian progressive values. Most people think that Liberals are largely self-serving to the political class and their supporters since the sponsorship scandal.

These two points are precisely why there will never be a rapprochement between the NDP and the Liberal Party, and this take me to my last point.

Thinking that the Liberal party has grassroots support, when all decisions are essentially taken by a small group of elites in Toronto, is clearly delusional thinking. The diminished role of Liberal riding assocations, effectively cut off by the Toronto elite from any influence on the party, means that there is nothing on which to rebuild. Liberals simply do not understand grassroots... in fact the institution of the Liberal party resembles more and more the insularism of the Catholic Church in Quebec in the 1950s, and a lot could be learned by understanding why that province unceremoniously dumped religion during the quiet revolution.

Shawn MJune 14, 2011 08:24 EST

Warren reveals here in clear terms the essential trouble with Canadian Liberals: Right from the top leadership and those who advise them, they do not stand for any principle or core belief. This party stands for Power, not people and new Canadians can see that clearly in the flailing and thrashing about. No clear reasons why they should be voted for, just crass opportunism and "winning f*#%&* elections". Not classy Warren, but seeing you vent your spleen warms my veteran heart.
The immigrant and ethnic vote is lost forever; welcome to the wasteland.

Allison BurgessJune 14, 2011 08:25 EST

Thank you for explaining to us in the West how Eastern-centric insider politics works. Somewhat disheartening, but not very surprising.

DurwardJune 14, 2011 08:26 EST

No you lost because you lost control of the messenger, the Internet did the Liberals in, free access to information not filtered by the socialist media.
You went from the media guarded natural governing party to the internet showing Liberals to be a party of scandal, of theft, of tax & spend and of the UN running our country in all but name.
You ignored real science and sided with the Clueless UN against your own people and country.
You thought Canadians were stupid and would fall for the AGW scam and tried again to scam us.
You lost because your untrustworthy, out of touch with reality and a dividing force in the country.

Misty IsleJune 14, 2011 08:26 EST

Michael wasn't the problem, it was the party itself. The public knew that. The main reason the treasured Liberal/NDP coalition wouldn't work ..... the NDP have principles, the Liberals do not. They are strictly a "flavour of the month" club.

PaulJune 14, 2011 08:26 EST

Warren,Your arm sore from patting yourself on the back?

ObservantJune 14, 2011 08:26 EST

“We can banish the pro-American, pro-torture, pro-Iraq war stuff in one move,” I had said to Davey and others in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition. “We’d pick up a ton of NDP and Bloc support. And Harper will be caught in the quagmire like John McCain was. It’s perfect.”

But Ignatieff wouldn’t do it. Not only would he not even discuss the notion, Davey said; he was angry that we had suggested it in the first place.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

OMG ... none of the Liberals read then Harvard professor Ignatieff\'s thesis of \"Lesser Evils\" published in the NY Times..!!!!

By accepting Kinsella\'s and Davey\'s strategy, Ignatieff would have had to repudiate his entire American neo-con political record. Conservative attack ads would simply have asked why Iggy was saying one thing in the USA and something diametrically different in Canada!! He can\'t be \"trusted\" would then reinforce \"just visiting\".

Maybe Warren only read his own books ....

DoomsterJune 14, 2011 08:49 EST

Warren always does an o.k. job of explaining how things happened after the fact. Really good analysis would tell us what to expect before it actually happens. Why didn't he predict the collapse of the Liberal party before May 2?

TronJune 14, 2011 08:50 EST

Just like Chretien who couldn't win an election unless it was against a divided opponent, you are severely overrated, you always were. It was always a Liberal sense of entitlement, that continual and zealously mocking manner in which the Liberals have never taken their opponents seriously, that almost divine arrogance that they alone deserved the power to run the government that did the Liberals in, not to mention the old tired hacks that never seemed to go away.

There is a reason that seasoned party stalwarts (Mckenna, Tobin, Manely, etc.) wouldn't touch the leadership with a ten foot pole, a reason that they figured out years ago. And that foresight has come home to roost - and to stay.

metoutJune 14, 2011 08:50 EST

Well sir, as a long term worker, I am responsible for what happens to the company. You sound that you saw it coming and instead of helping you just resigned. Now what is this about? I think it would have been a great article if you had removed all of the statements that started with "I" and "My", This sounds like the reason liberal lost was ignoring you.

However, I agree that left, not center-left, should unite and grits have a long way to go.

Bill OwenJune 14, 2011 08:50 EST

"Coercive interrogation" my ass. Michael Ignatieff supported "torture", full stop. I heard him say that most emphatically several times on CBC radio. He called it, most disingenuously, "the lesser evil".

As a Progressive, I campaign against torturers, not for them.

He was a clueless, inapt, "leader" and he would have been a worse PM. All the spin by the all the spinners in the world could not change that. And that's a good thing.

I hate Harper, but Iggy was our Obama, a fool and a tool. Not even a Canadian, that's true too. Just watch him on youtube actually saying that.

Ignatieff didn't lose the election, the backroomers, the Bay Streeters and the status quo cowards did.

BradJune 14, 2011 09:24 EST

I always left people who continually call the Liberal''s smog and arrogant and that they don't know grassroots. I am no Baystreet Lawyer and no arrogant backroomer. I am the people who hammer in those signs. We still believe in the party and working to take the party back and move it in the right direction again. Those who are riffing here on warren's opinions need to realize they are just that his opinions he doesn't control the whole party.

AnonymousJune 14, 2011 10:07 EST

No where in his column did Kinsella mention what was in the best interest of the country. It was all about beating Stephen Harper. Kinsella and his cronies have a long way to go if they think they are going to outsmart Harper. They have now tried for over ten years. They keep underestimating him along with their buddies in the media. Now Harper has control of everything. He has the House, the Senate, committees and the Prime Ministership. Instead of whining Kinsella should put his arrogant mouth back to work and help rebuild his party. Instead he will waste his time trying to get McGuinty re-elected. That\'s not going to happen. Like Ignatieff McGuinty is past his best before date.
As for the shiny new toys for the military. This is an indictment of the Liberal party. For years they starved the military of new equipment etc. A decade of darkness as aptly put by Hillier. Then what do Liberals cynically do they send our people to Afghanistan ill equipped. It is through the actions of the Liberals that some of our people were killed. The military is the sole responsibility of the federal government. Instead the Liberals spent all their time interferring in provincial jurisdiction trying to socially engineer the country.
Now we have the puffy faced Paul Martin yakking about the deplorable state of the aboriginals in Canada. Can you believe it? This silly party had 13 years of unfettered majority governments with a divided opposition. They could have done something about the state of aboriginals in this country. They did absolutely nothing. Martin and his Kelowna Accord was pure bullsh.t and Kinsella knows it. There was nothing in the budget nor was there any real detail on how to achieve the so called goals. Now Martin shows up criticizing the Harper government. What balls.
The Liberals including the mouthy Kinsella should hang their heads in shame. Anything they criticize the Harper government about shows the wasted 13 years of Liberal government under Kinsella\'s buddy Jean Chretien. You want to know how to spell hypocrisy. It is spelled...L.i.b.e.r.a.l.

ObservantJune 14, 2011 10:07 EST

Ignatieff was not a Canadian political lead, he was only a Liberal beard, and Canadians saw him for what he was ... just visiting.

The entire Toronto Liberal apparatchiks revealed themselves as total idiots by bringing in Iggy ... and Alf Apps is the remnant of that failed cabal. The Liberal party must first purge itself of it's ineptitude and incompetence, but then there might not be anything left to follow.

All that remains is for Layton and Rae to reconcile and embrace in unholy matrimony ... the New Liberal Democratic Party (NLDP) ... and run from there. It will be quite the accomplishment to merge the interests of the Dipper unions with the Liberal PowerCorp into one happy opportunistic family ... an entente cordiale so to speak.

SusaanJune 14, 2011 10:07 EST

I just wanted to comment that it is so refreshing to read opinions that are not in lock step agreement with Warren, the self-anointed political (circa 1993) guru rendered drainingly impotent (2011). On K´s own little website, it is always yesmen and reverential commenting only being allowed. All others are summarily dismissed before making the page. Walrus readers´evidently are weary of ol´ warroom Warry.

Rick OmenJune 14, 2011 10:07 EST

Let's see how Warren's brilliance pans out for McGuilty in the provincial election this fall. Warren's intelligence is extremely overrated, the only campaign him ever winning being for Cretien. Warren's a loser, and only losers follow his advice.

ObJune 14, 2011 10:26 EST

Warren .. if you are reading these comments, you must conclude that the federal Liberals are political viande morte .... and heading towards oblivion. You were an advocate of a merger/alliance of the federal Liberals and Dippers ... so shouldn't you also be pushing for a conjoining of the Ontario Liberals and Dippers ... to Stop Hudak ..??!!!

Ford ... Harper ... Hudak .... the inexorable Tory tide ..!!!

When will you drop your other (left) shoe in Ontario because your Dalton is heading towards a big fall too ...???

s.b.June 14, 2011 12:31 EST

Warren is so wrong, so juvenile and so self centred. The campaign was terrible. Ignatieff as Pokaroo, then Mao, then a Baptist Preacher, sums it up. 'Grit girl' would have done nothing, ooh an internet campaign. That has the Conservatives running scared Warren.

There was NEVER any indication that the NDP would have entertained co-operation and certainly not merger, at any time. Warren is so deluded in his self importance that he actually keeps spewing this as a possibility, when it never was. The Liberal Party is an old boys club. The NDP is controlled by unions and their members. They were never going to entertain or subjugate themselves to the old boys.

Warren had the gall to try to scare voters with the abortion and same sex marriage boogey man when he worked for a Liberal PMO that fought both those ideas in the courts tooth and nail, the Liberals have always had a large pro-life anti gay caucus, and the man himself is a practicing member of the Catholic church. Again Warren's hypocrisy knows no bounds.

The Liberal Old Boys have done nothing but use members of marginalized groups to gain power, while ignoring their concerns afterward. That is why the Conservatives won. That is why the Liberal Party will be no more. The Liberal party has never actually allowed any power or even promises to be delivered to their natural constituency and now the constituency is gone.

The Liberals will be gone soon too.

olddufferJune 14, 2011 12:31 EST

Hah! Warren

Too Much, too late.
You're living,breathing proof that hindsight is indeed 20/20
Of course as in your case bs and self delusion won't get in the way of facts/results

I'm sure that you con meaningfully occupy your early retirement years with going around your home and wiping all the lip prints off your mirrors.

PhilJune 14, 2011 12:31 EST

Interesting to see the inside scoop on what was going on from WK's perspective. However, I have to agree with others on this wall and say that - red Liberal though he is, punk rock agitator though he is, important Liberal conscience though he is - these days he often comes off as more of the type of Liberal he claims to oppose. That is, a guy who is interested in principle as a principle, but isn't going to let adherence to it get in the way of getting the party back into their God-given seat of power.

ObservantJune 14, 2011 14:23 EST

Let's examine a Liberal "comeback" a la Kinsella. First retake Ontario from it's meagre Toronto bastion .... and then win over all the l'Orange Crush Quebecers by offering them Canada Dry ...???

But wait, there is a large, disseminated Liberal vote out there, and if it can polarized to "win the fucking election" in 2015, that should bring them back from their current conundrum. And then there is getting true and principled Liberal Canadians to contribute money to the faltering Liberal party ...hmmm.

Perhaps Warren is hinting to us that the Liberal party cannot make a political comeback and their only hope is to merge with the NDP ... and Layton is in no hurry as he watches the Liberals twist in the fartuous winds of the HoCs ... waiting .. waiting ... and then poof!

Don’t wanna be sued by thin-skinned authorJune 14, 2011 14:28 EST

"Shiny Toys" sums it up. It was never about what was right or what was necessary, it was only ever about differentiating one party from another and winning votes. That Liberals would once again toss soldiers under obsolete tank treads is no surprise. It's a little surprising how open they are in their contempt for those that actually server their country, serve with the possibility of dying, unlike politicians and strategists whose only service is of the "self" kind.

John Patrick DalyJune 14, 2011 14:29 EST

Kinsella has done a superficial analysis here because he is a superficial human being. Busily working his way down the career ladder, his avocation now is posterboy for law of diminishing returns. He is, however (and unintentionally) an excellent example of the personality and the approach that has so profoundly repulsed former and prospective Canadian voters: he will do anything to win, including calling his opponents "poopy pants" and embedding a link on his blog that takes readers to a photo of his opponent in poopy pants.

That poopy pants have nothing to do with any substantive issue is of no concern to the Kinsellas of this world. Kinsella is loyal to a party/employer/cause as long as that party/employer/cause serves a most important function; providing helium to pump up his fragile and flagging ego.

RonJune 14, 2011 20:26 EST

After all this time, K and Liberals still don't get it. It wasn't Ignatieff, the back room, the policies or the "ads". It's the simple fact that Canadians no longer trust the Liberal Party. They stole millions from us and have never said a single word of apology. I am still angry at the $40 million missing. The lied to us (especially Pinocchio McGuinty in Ontario) and continue to pretend they are honest people. These are the reasons I have for disliking Liberals and why I have no problem with their imminent demise. Hopefully, the few remaining good people amoung that crew of scum will be able to form under a new banner and once again do good things for Canada. The left constantly attacked Mulrooney and his Party for its corruption and lack of ethics - the good people in that Party did exactly what I want good Liberals to do - abandon the rotten husk of a Party and form under a new banner. The Liberal brand is tarnished by the actions of liars and theives.

Stephen DownesJune 14, 2011 20:26 EST

The thing is, a united left will bleed support from its margins to the Conservatives. It would bleed those people who supported Ignatieff, who supported Paul Martin, who support blue Liberalism. How much would it bleed? Probably, as in other two-party systems, just enough to balance the two sides. At which point political discourse becomes a race to win those centre votes, and becomes meaningless.

What Ignatieff failed to do (besides act like an unrepentant conservative) was to define any actual policy differentiation. What Harper and Layton had in common was an understanding of what they stood for and why they were running. The reason the Conservative attack ads were so effective is that they spoke to the fact that Ignatieff had no reason to return to politics other than a desire to play in the game - there was never any sense that he was trying the save the country from something, to lead it toward some vision or ideal, or anything.

As a longtime New Democrat - someone willing to work in the wilderness because I *do* believe in something - I have always felt that Canada worked better when it had a variety of points of view, a variety of perspectives. It is is easy to sell (to Liberals, apparently) the idea that politics in Canada operates along a single dimension, but it's incorrect. Harper's party is economically and socially conservative, the Ignatieff Liberals could have been very successful being economically conservative (it certainly had the track record) and socially liberal, while the NDP distinguishes itself as liberal on both fronts.

The requirement that New Democrats abandon socialism is, I think, as clear a statement as any that there is not some mythical 'united left' that we could all have belonged to. The leadership renouncing socialism would have been the death of the NDP. I know, some people still live in the world where socialism involves nationalizing banks and withdrawing from NATO. The objective of socialism, of a liberal economic policy, which the NDP will not abandon, is one that promotes social equity, that resists the increasing disparity between rich and poor, that protects the security of the old, the ill, the infirm, that treats society, not as a competition, but as a community.

Liberals asking NDPers to abandon socialism did not understand this. Liberals - from my perspective - have always been willing to talk a good game about social equity, but less willing to make the spending decisions when it counts. That's why Liberals and the NDP have found a great deal in common in causes but such a division of purpose in actual legislation. That's why Liberals can be sanguine about cutting health, education and social assistance, while to the NDP this strikes at the heart of public policy. And it underscores, as we have always known, that there are distinct points of view, distinct perspectives, and that our diversity of voices is what makes us stronger as a nation.

Finally, it wasn't a matter of uniting the right that led to the Conservative victory. It was the result of some very smart campaigning, of a devastating advertising campaign undermining a weak opponent, of a coalescing around economic priorities while shelving - for now - the potentially much more divisive social issues that still divide the party, of successfully co-opting the media, which with one exception supported Harper in the election, and in very smartly painting a false picture of us against them, left versus right, Harper's way or the wrong way. And the Liberals bought into the myth, still buy into the myth, that brought them down.

Bill OwenJune 14, 2011 20:26 EST

\"Coercive interrogation\" my ass. Michael Ignatieff supported \"torture\", full stop. I heard him say that most emphatically several times on CBC radio. He called it, most disingenuously, \"the lesser evil\".

As a Progressive, I campaign against torturers, not for them.

He was a clueless, inapt, \"leader\" and he would have been a worse PM. All the spin by the all the spinners in the world could not change that. And that\'s a good thing.

I hate Harper, but Iggy was our Obama, a fool and a tool. Not even a Canadian, that\'s true too. Just watch him on youtube actually saying that.

Ignatieff didn\'t lose the election, the backroomers, the Bay Streeters and the status quo cowards did.

another WarrenJune 14, 2011 20:26 EST

99% of comments on this thread are pretty much the same... and bang-on. I am a CPC supporter raised by parents that were rabid-NDP. The Liberals were for decades the only party that had Canada wide support from coast to coast. The core support for the Libs was on the decline since Trudeau but there was not much alternative after the demise of Mulroney. Liberal Party support was all but artificial or \'no better choice\' since the 80\'s. The Reform Party revived a true conservative agenda but Manning was not the best face to put on the party, although he was definitely on the right track. Conservative values and ideal were not be-born; they were merely awakened.

The Liberal Party arrogance/corruption finally got to be too much and people took a chance on Harper. Lo, and behold, he wasn\'t nearly as scary as everybody thought... 2nd minority, and more of the same... May 2nd, majority at last and we will all have to see how that goes, but my instincts tell me we are in for a gradual but significant shift to the right. Canada has been given the last two minority governments to prepare for it mentally.. and for good reason. Sacred cows of all kinds can finally be disposed of and a new path charted. Canadians of actual \'working-class\' are ready, able and anticipating it. The slackers, leeches and entitlement crowd are dreading it. I wonder why?

They say the true sign of insanity is to keep repeating the same mistakes and still expecting a different outcome. That is the failed legacy of the Liberal Party.

A new agenda, a new perspective and a new mandate to lead is what we have now. The status quo is out, the new is in. Mushy lefty thinking has run it\'s course for 4 decades. The ship is listing badly to the left and we need to right it to an even keel.

My namesake, Warren K. may not be perfect, but he sees the writing on the wall.... He knows the Libs are toast and probably will wither on the vine of Canadian Politics for probably a decade or more. Give him credit for at least being honest about what happened and to be clear that it was a failure not by just Iggy, but the entire party. After Martin\'s defeat the pundits declared a long time in the \'wilderness\' to re-group and re-define what the party stood for and what direction they needed to go. Of course they ignored that advice and continued down the same path.... the path to obscurity. It looks good on them.

As for an NDP merger... That will end in abject failure. Socialism is an ideology of proven failure as well. Liberals either tack right or oblivion is all they can expect.

Lets see what Harper can do for the next 4 years and what the country looks like. Then we can see if the Liberals should be let out of the penalty-box.

ObservantJune 15, 2011 09:33 EST

Federal Liberal party and politics are passé, stale, boring to the Canadian electorate. They have the energetic Harper Conservatives or feisty Layton Dippers to choose from; while interim Bob Rae is yesterday's man. Liberals don't have a leader, nor do they have a political soul. Liberals are viande morte (pardon my French).

The only thing that supports the near-defunct Liberal party is their faithful media mavens, who continue to offer their advice on how to resurrect the Liberal corpse, and even now some are abandoning ship because their jobs depend on their political relevancy. No use writing about the lugubrious Liberals when nobody wants to read that stuff.

Now we wait for the announcement of the merger of the Liberals into the Dippers, to form a magnificent new Canadian political force ... the socialist failures plus the corrupt power seekers. What an unholy matrimony that will be!

SusaanJune 15, 2011 14:00 EST

Even his underwhelming in the extreme, geezer punk band ShitForBrains, doesn´t want him back. Same for readers. It´s delicious that Warren is so egotistical that he predictably will read all these comments and yet cannot delete them like he always does on his own blog. Fatuous blowhard still strumming the mortally moribund Liberal chords.

ObservantJune 15, 2011 22:36 EST

Liberals are a joke. After the Martin debacle, they flocked to Dion to Stop Iggy ... then they threw Iggy into the breech ... and now they have plugged the breech with third banana BoboRae. Do the Liberals have a problem? Hmmmm .... well nothing that time won\'t heal.

Will Rae be the last Liberal leader and shut off the lights and collapse the tattered, teetering Lil\' Red Tent filled with the motley remnants of the once-illustrious Liberal party?

Now the only question is \"when\" ... and I figure by Xmas they will conclude the inevitable ... it\'s not worth salvaging because the centre of Canadians is just a deep, dark, black hole ... and the Liberal party has just spilled over the \"event horizon\" and are being sucked into political oblivion.

MichaelJune 16, 2011 07:04 EST

To suggest the Liberals are progressive is delusional. Instead of painting excuses for the trashing of the LPC and painting the old we "could of", "would of ", "should of" scenarios that don't exist why don't you accept the fact that the LPC has not kept up with Canadians sentiments which have repudiated what the LPC had down while in power for 13 years. Have you ever considered that possibility?

Hari SafreJune 18, 2011 21:20 EST

This is a very revealing article that shows what went wrong in the Liberal Party but not in the way that the author intended. This article is a further exemplification that the Liberal Party became so full of people like Mr. Kinsella that its only principle of existence was “winning fucking elections.” It stands for nothing. The electorate figured that out and that is why the Liberals lost. However, although the electorate figured out the state of present Liberal Party, Mr. Kinsella apparently has still not yet figured out the state of the present electorate. A party whose only concern is “winning fucking elections” isn’t worth anyone’s “fucking time of day”.

J. in Ont.June 19, 2011 20:23 EST

Excellent article. The description of the benefits of a Liberal-NDP merger is dead-on. I recently received an e-mail from the Liberals asking me to consider supporting them by becoming a paying member. ...Ha. Yeah. That would really solve something.

I can't believe these two parties (who together represent the majority of the population) are still diddling around with this "our camp/their camp" stuff. While Rome burns, as the saying goes.

WayneJuly 25, 2011 08:32 EST

Canada would be better served if so many were not ideologically blinkered. I thought Ignatieff was the wrong man because he didn't understand politics. If he did, he would have run for the Conservative Party. I despair for a Canada run by Harper. Contrary to widespread opinion, he is a big spender, especially on the military, on the law and order agenda, and on corporate bail-outs. Everything he does is like the attack ads, with a purpose of caging more votes. The NDP has been the source of the best ideas for governance, but now that they have some actual power, they too might abandon principle for votes.

Perhaps the merger of NDP and Liberals makes some sense. Certainly, if Canadians look beyond their arbitrary provincial borders and limiting provincial thought, they might see very successful democratic socialism governments in the nordic countries. They always rank higher than us in quality of life, and they do a better job of education. They do not seem to suffer economically, and they have solid industrial bases. It is remarkable that in times of global export of manufacturing to low-cost labor countries, the Swedes build fine automobiles and airplanes, for example.

Perhaps if more Canadians could broaden their narrow focus, we too might have a better quality of life.

Jim McCarneyAugust 15, 2011 07:00 EST

Well, this autopsy report following the red party's annihilation in the last election was disingenous on several fronts.

Mr Kinsella has completely missed the point, and in so doing, displays the very attitude of smug entitlement that most Canadians have come to despise about the Liberals. Most of us have not forgotten the sponsorship scandal, Mr Kinsella.

Yes, Stephen Harper achieved a majority government with 40% of the popular vote, something that WK finds disturbing. Where was that same level of disturbance when his political hero, Mr Dithers otherwise known as Jean Chretien won more than one majority with 38% of the popular vote. What a hypocrite!

I sincerely hope that folks like Mr Kinsella and his fellow Liberal backroom hacks are as involved in the next Federal election as they were in this recent one; and just as successful.

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