07.15.2010 07:45 AM

Your morning papers

Not pleasant for Team Iggy, but they’re opinion. They’re not news stories.

This Toronto Star story, however, is a bizarre combination of both. Key graf:

“Michael Ignatieff is being touted as an eventual successor to Janice Gross Stein at the university’s prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs…Sources say the university would also welcome Ignatieff’s return if he chooses to fill the post it offered in 2005 to bring him back to Canada from Harvard.”

I rather doubt one of the country’s best newspapers would permit him to print a column full of, as one of Iggy’s unidentified staff put it, “bullshit.” It’s a biggish story, it’s topping the highly-influential National Newswatch, and it’s mainly written as fact.

But questions abound. If the paper stood behind the veracity of the claims of the “sources” therein, then why let it stand as a column? Why not assign some of the Ottawa bureau to it, and write it as a news story? Why publish it as an odd mix of fact and opinion?

It’s weird one and, mostly, we’ll have to put it down as one of those flimsy Summertime stories. When I worked for the aforementioned Chretien in Opposition, we could have wallpapered Centre Block with the Chretien-is-resigning stories, particularly in the Summer. He ended up doing rather well in the election that followed, as I recall.

I’m not involved with Team Iggy, for reasons that would shortly become become crystal clear, and nor are they involved with me. What to do, what to do?

I guess that leaves you, dear reader, to decide what’s what. Who’s bullshitting? Comments are open. Fire away.


  1. Joseph says:

    Even if true, why is this a big story? Iggy has a background in global affairs. If things don’t work out in politics, he will return to it. Heck, anybody could have written this column.

    Why would the Iggy campaign even bother to deny it, and do so in such a defensive manner? They should embrace it, and use it to highlight (a) Iggy’s commitment to Canada and to learning, and (b) his standing in international affairs.

    • Patagonia says:

      “Why would the Iggy campaign even bother to deny it, and do so in such a defensive manner?”

      Besides the fact that it says Iggy has one foot out the door (not exactly good strategy), those who denied it have a paycheck at stake in keeping Iggy on the bus. The deniers are in denial.

  2. The story is troubling and for the life of me, I honestly don’t know why Iggy should want to stay on as leader. He’s a noted scholar, author and a genuinely brilliant person – he’s also taking a shellacking in the press and it seems that no matter what he does, it generally blows up in his face. We can debate whether the problem is Iggy or the Liberal party until the cows come home, but I think that at this point, more than a year an a half after taking over – he hasn’t resonated with voters at a time when there’s a generally nasty piece of business who is the Prime Minister.

    Ignatieff is out of his element – this isn’t a fault on his character either. I think he could contribute far more to Canada by stepping down before he becomes more of a laughingstock. (Bear in mind – I think the media is taking a particularly vile form of glee in reporting Iggy’s ongoing PR problems.)

    U of T looks pretty good from where I’m sitting.

    • Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Sean Cummings,

      What’s your take on this simple fact? Chretien had three very long and difficult years before he managed to reach out and grasp the brass ring (with W’s help, I might add) which lasted over three consecutive governments.

      Some other Liberals may not be willing to cut Michael further slack but I am not among them.

      • But Chretien had been an MP since the 60’s and looked pretty comfortable in his own skin by that point in time. Ignatieff has always struck me (lately now more than ever) that he’d rather be doing something else and frankly, if he hasn’t caught on by now I doubt he will. Another point is that (with W’s help) Chretien benefited from a divided right. Today the left is divided and the right is pretty solidly behind Mephistopheles, cough, Harper.

        I think Iggy should stick with what he excels at – leading a Liberal party that badly needs to reinvent itself is clearly not is calling.

  3. Ronald O'Dowd says:


    Simply not on, IMHO. You don’t begin an all intensive bus tour across Canada if you’re really planning to exit stage right.

    Secondly, if you were planning to go, you certainly wouldn’t take a job that amounts to warmed up leftovers from a previous offer.

  4. Paul R. Martin says:

    I have no idea if the story is accurate; however, it would provide a decent position for Iggy should he lose the next election. As far as the reporter is concerned, he is not my cup of tea either; however, he is not always wrong.

  5. J. Coates says:

    Ho-hum. More nonsense.

  6. Catherine says:

    I appreciate the ‘opinion,’ as opposed to ‘column’ clarification.

    As some dream of merging the left to form a concentrated voice against the direction of the present gov’t, I dream of a time when the LPC speaks with one voice.

    I am sorry to hear that Mr. Kinsella is ‘not involved with Team Igg(natieff).

    • Warren says:

      They don’t need me. They’ve got some wonderfully smart folks, and they’ll do just fine.

      • Ronald O'Dowd says:


        You sound like a member of the diplomatic corps…are you having an off day?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Cath says:

        I found these words interesting Warren “I?m not involved with Team Iggy, for reasons that would shortly become become crystal clear…..”.
        it implies that some news about why you’re not now involved with Team Iggy will shortly become crystal clear.
        The word “would” is odd to me – picky, picky.

        Re: the Ignatieff exit – makes for light summer reading as you say, but Ignatieff hanging on past his due date has a funny John Tory and the Ont. PC feel to it.
        Also, as someone keen on optics the pictures of Ignatieff’s tour are what people will remember….and on the internet they have an indefinite shelf life…as your photo heading your next thread illustrates.

      • allegra fortissima says:

        Speak the speech, I pray you, as I
        pronounced it to you, trippingly on the
        tongue; but if you mouth it, as many
        of your players do, I had as lief the
        town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not
        saw the air too much with your hand,
        thus; but use all gently; but in the
        very torrent, tempest, and – as I may
        say – whirlwind of passion, you must
        acquire and beget a temperance, that
        may give it smoothness. O! it offends
        me to the soul to hear a robustious
        periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to
        tatters, to very rags, to split the ears
        of the groundlings, who for the most
        part are capable of nothing but inex-
        plicable dumb-shows and noise; I
        would have such a fellow whipped for
        o’erdoing Termagant; it out-herodes
        Herod; pray you, avoid it.

        (Warren Kins…. no wait, this is Hamlet, III.ii)

  7. MW says:

    “. . . reasons that would shortly become become crystal clear.”

    What does this mean?

    • Warren says:

      Well, I guess if I wanted to say just now, I would’ve!

      • Cath says:

        Um, I’m guessing that you wouldn’t have said so now because a) the timing is not right and b) you can’t
        I’m also guessing that when it’s time for your blogging public to know there will be no doubt of the “wow” factor.


  8. TPQ says:

    All of these little tittelating stories when Iggy’s on tour smacks of dirty tricks from the PMO/tory war room muppet squad. They are that dirty in my opinion.

    • Warren says:

      Could be. But Travers would have sourced them as such, wouldn’t he?

      • Namesake says:

        I’m with TPQ on this one, for several reasons.

        1) We know the Tory War Room is in full op. mode w. the start of the BBQ tour. Several articles have ref’d that & cited some of their 1st missives, & Evan Solomon showed their newly minted Just Visiting t-shirts about it, the other day. And this story is certainly on that central Con-Bot theme, and is also conveniently directly modelled on the other central anti-MI theme & similarly embarrassing for him: the recent coalition talk, which some, er, around here, had a hand in, actually.

        2) Sure, it’s not _complete_ BS: there’s prob’ly a grain of truth in it & it could be multi-sourced inasmuch as the War Roomers probably could’ve provided the ID of someone at U of T who’d say, “Sure, with his qual’s, we’d def’ly consider MI for the position; in fact, we did so once before, and some of us have mentioned his name again.” But that’s a far cry from there being active talks that MI is actually part of… just as with the recent coalition talks, which clearly MI was _not_ part of (but were being done behind his back), but which the Cons are counting on people thinking he was.

        3) If & when he does exit Cndn. politics, I seriously doubt it’d be for a position in Canada, particularly after everything that has & will have happened, and especially not at the relatively lowly U of T, because he has his pride, and he _can_ do better.

        First, has anyone even bothered to find out whether he could go back to Harvard, which of course has, what, at least 1,000 times more prestige than U of T (and probably pays a lot better), and where he wouldn’t face constant snickers & mockery? (Here it would be: “Loser! Say, why aren’t you at a community college, now!” But at an Ivy League setting, it would be more, “You tried to help out the blighted savages and they rebelled at having anyone with more than a primitive intellect lead them? Ah, well, tut tut; let’s play some cricket.”)

        Second, if he flames out, he’d probably leave this _all_ behind & go back to England, where: a) his two kids (& before long, grandkids) are; and b) he got a _lot_ more respect & he could carry on as a Charlie Rose / William F. Buckley type. This profile a few weeks ago in the Guardian made a strong case that this is still a very live option for him:


        So, yeah, I think it’s just another stink bomb.

        • Cath says:

          given Ignatieff’s really bad habit of well talking and walking with his foot in his mouth and letting the zingers fly, I’m betting that the Tory war room has a bit of time on their hands as Ignatieff’s practically writing their material for them.

  9. Patagonia says:

    What to do, what to do?

    Already answered that, I’d say. Otherwise, this “story” would have received a short link reference, and you would have opted to quote from this one instead:


  10. AmandaM says:

    Sigh. Welcome to Summer on the Trail. Stories like this (the next one will be Premier McGuinty’s early exit plans after the next election – wanna bet?) could replace my kitty litter for the next couple of months. It’s rumour, and had to be a column. Although your point about the weird mix of fact (i.e. the previous offer) and rumour (i.e. he’ll take the job this time!) is well taken. It was a strange piece, but we cannot discount the author in that regard. The other fun part is that the Globe now has Spector (I spit!) ruminating on whether the Star has gone sour on Mr. Ignatieff. Honestly, they’re just making news for each other now, aren’t they. Again, Summer.

    Nevertheless, the idea is a good one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Mr. Ignatieff is what a compromise leader looks like. No one in the general membership is particularly passionate about him, and as such, he can’t get an traction on anything. I have absolutely no idea what he stands for, and I’m a Liberal. I have no idea what he would do as Prime Minister. I feel like as a Liberal, I shouldn’t have to go to the LPC website to find out what his values are. It should be crystal clear (much like your upcoming reveal, Warren! Intriguing!) to at least the party faithful, and more fully to the general population. Compromise leaders don’t win, because they’re not really leaders. Leaders grab the bull by the horns and are loud and proud about their vision and values.

    Who is bullshitting? A little from Column A; a little from Column B. As with everything, the truth likely likes somewhere in the middle.

  11. Ian says:

    Travers has an interesting story but it lacks credibility because be did not name a source. (Who was it said that a statement doesn’t have to be true, it only needs to be plausible.) I don’t see how the story from Mr Travers serves the interests of anyone who wants to undermine Mr Ignatieff. This cross country bus tour will give Ignatieff almost daily press coverage throughout most of the summer. Kind of hard to forget about a guy when he spends the summer rubbing elbows with high profile reporters from CTV, The National Post, The Toronto Star, QMI, The Globe and Mail, The Ottawa Citizen and local media outlets across the country. With that kind of coverage, when someone plants an unproven rumour Ignatieff can kill it in its tracks. I think that this summer bus tour is a great idea that Ignatieff can use to gain tremendous results for the Liberal party, Liberals MP’s and for the Liberal leader. Well managed face to face sales calls are good for business and I give the man credit for making outside sales calls throughout the summer. It absolutely makes the party all the more credible.

  12. JH says:

    Someone mentioned dirty tricks from the Tories. I suspect Iggy and gang may want to look closer to home. As has been mentioned, there are those who supported Mr. Rae who’ve never stopped trying to make life difficult for the Leader

  13. Ted says:

    Columnist trying to make a story: So, let’s say Michael Ignatieff quit politics, would you hire him at UofT?

    UofT: Of course. He’d be a great addition to the faculty. I don’t see him leaving Ottawa though. He left here in 2005 to pursue politics. We’d always welcome him back but I don’t think that will happen.

    Columnist trying to make a story: Gertrude Stein is getting on in years, would he be someone you would consider replacing her if he was available?

    UofT: Absolutely. That would be a perfect hand-off. Mr. Ignatieff’s stellar international reputation would be a great addition to the Carr Institute. We’d be lucky to have him.

    Next day in the Star: “Michael Ignatieff is being touted as an eventual successor to Janice Gross Stein at the university?s prestigious Munk School of Global Affairs?Sources say the university would also welcome Ignatieff?s return if he chooses to fill the post it offered in 2005 to bring him back to Canada from Harvard.

  14. Ted says:

    And Munk School not Carr. He was already at Carr.

    Reason #258 I’m not a reporter.

  15. Don Carruthers says:

    Re the bus tour, btw: It got good coverage on CTV last night via Roger Smith. Canada’s most-watched newscast. Fact of the matter is, Iggy’s getting visibility, coverage and getting his talking points out there to John & Jane Q. Public. Plus don’t discount the fact that it gives him and the whole team a chance to test-run and trail-balloon stuff for the eventual campaign. And the coverage amounts to more or less free advertising. For all those reasons and despite all the warts, I still think Team Liberal was right to do this.

  16. Steve says:

    Didn’t the Americans have this kind of debate ( i.e. brains vs. politics as usual) when Adelai Stevenson ran for the Democrats in the 50’s?

    At the same time, Canadians have voted (i.e. by the largest number of Commons seats) for governments headed John Diefenbaker, L.B. Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Joe Clark, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper. ( I obviously don’t include heads of government by reason of party leadership: Turner, Campbell)

    I invite anyone to explain the common thread among these Prime Ministers.

    More importantly, why is it overlooked that Mr. Ignatieff, a man who has the ear of world leaders who make a difference ( i.e. in an era when Greece’s financial problems become our problem) chose to come back to Canada, run in a riding where his electoral success was anything but guaranteed, get elected, run for the leadership of the LPC against formidable candidates, etc., and instead be treated as an effete elitist and dilletante?

    Maybe the CTV / CBC / Canwest / Quebecor-Sun Media monopoly can stop breathing their own fumes and stop being mouthpieces for Dimitri Soudas.

    Thanks for your time

    • James Curran says:

      “chose to come back to Canada, run in a riding where his electoral success was anything but guaranteed”

      You’re kidding, right?


      • Steve says:

        Not kidding.

        You may have forgotten, among other things, all the “swift boating” from the Ukrainian groups (of course, not linked to or backed by the Tories) at the time of his nomination and that the riding had, between 1983 and 1993 been PC (Patrick Boyer).

        Not to mention the shameless relentless pandering to the nativist knuckle-draggers amongst us with the “just visiting” slander being perpetuated by the Harpercons…

  17. Blair Shumlich says:

    Seems the media in general is trying to one up themselves in making him look bad. There is no news this summer so this appears to be the line of attack. Just look at the pictures published in the G&M:



    Really? You had to put up those pictures?

  18. Paul R. Martin says:

    Hello Warren
    If you were a provincial Tory, you would have fun with the Toronto Star’s revelations about Stewardship Ontario and the Provincial Eco Fee (Tax) boondogle. I wonder how Dalton will spin this one.

  19. “I’m not involved with Team Iggy, for reasons that would shortly become become crystal clear, and nor are they involved with me.”

    Warren, you are one VERY ANNOYING TEASE. 😉 C’mon… GIVE GIVE GIVE!!! Was going to blog about your quote, but I’ll wait to see what you’ve got up your sleeve.

  20. Lipman says:

    Ignatieff is a highly respected scholar, but many other highly respected scholars detest his work. One of the most cited academics in modern history, Noam Chomsky, has referred to Ignatieff’s work as “garbage”.

    Of course, in the mainstream media Chomsky’s scholarship is deemed “radical”, and he is the bete-noire of most “liberals” in the academe. But some would argue that Iggy lost something when he joined the chorus of neoconservatives and Stanford’s U’s Hoover Institute hawks in supporting the Iraq war.

    Nevertheless, his domestic policies far outshine those espoused by Harper, and for that reason, Liberals need to stand by him if an election is called.

    -Interested in the “crystal clear” teaser!

  21. james curran says:

    Look. Here’s the long and the short of it. When the media and the general public begin to laugh at you and your opponent doesn’t have to bother writing the sript anymore because you’re doing a good job destroying yourself, then you’re done. Like a dinner.

    It’s the Howard Dean, Michael Dukakis, Robert Stanfield moment. The bus and the fixing of the bus has, and will continue to be, Michael’s fumble, tank driving, scream.
    Sad, but true. And we Liberals that are critical of our Leader have generally just laid off because the stupidity just never ceases to amaze us.

    In a political landscape where you’re battling the Republican North Party, micromanagement of every damn thing Iggy does (even the kind of toothpaste he uses….I’m a colgate kind of guy) is an must.

    Is it Donolo’s fault the bus broke down? No. Should they have been prepared for such a fiasco? YES!

  22. I know I’m late to this, but I think it’s pretty easy to support the story. The real problem is the headline, which goes much further than Travers’ comment that U of T would love to have Iggy run their school. I’m sure they’d love to have Obama as well if he were interested – it’s nothing worth front page treatment.

  23. Zachary Scott Smith says:

    This action by the usually Liberal friendly Toronto Star and Travers does have the appearance of a deliberate throw at the head by Travers and for the life of me, I cannot figure out why.

    Here we have Travers, who has berated the Conservatives for the just visiting tag, and he has given has just given the Conservatives the hammer to pound Ignatieff into the ground with that tag.

    So why would this paper and columnist who have spent so much capital on Ignatieff release such a story and to have the timing do the most damage to Ignatieff.

    To figure out the why, one has to subscribe to some conspiracy theories and that starts with Rae and the not so silent war that he is waging against Ignatieff.

    If the saboteurs are successful in removing Ignatieff from the leadership, here is what I see happening. Rae is acclaimed and all the back room deals that have been made regarding the merger or formation of an alliance between the Liberals and NDP, with or without the Bloc comes out.

    Rae attempts to sell the deal as being necessary as the coalition will be voting non-confidence of the Government when the house returns and that the merger is the only way to defeat the Conservatives and form Government.

    Rae gets the leadership, the merger and gets to bring down the Government and have that election he has been calling for and politics is a blood sport, but party politics is even worse as they are your friends.

  24. Zachary Scott Smith says:

    So far the only one he would appear to be meeting is a lobbyist and some Liberal supporters.

    What is truly bizarre is the fact that Ignatieff, the leader of the official opposition and the man who would be PM has invited a paid lobbyist to sit beside him on his bus and to be part of his mission to meet average Canadians and that the media has not reported on this in any meaningful manner.

    Just imagine, here we have Don Boudria, former Liberal MP under Chr

  25. Brian K says:

    Obviously I’m late to this discussion, but it’s an interesting subject so what the heck. Whether or not this item is front page material is a ripe topic for an ethics in journalism debate, but as far as Ignatieff’s political future goes, this much is clear: Canadians haven’t taken a liking to him, and he hasn’t taken a liking to politics. He wears his discomfort on his face and in his body language. Ignatieff comes from a world of intellectual debate, and intellectual debates often turn on nuance; perhaps unfortunately, there’s little room for nuance in the world of modern politics, and one gets the impression that Ignatieff resents being forced into a box where he must take black or white positions on issues that he knows are far more complicated than black or white. He just wasn’t built for profession where success is measured in soundbytes. So Ignatieff fights an election in the fall or the spring, the Conservatives win another minority but Liberals gain seats due mostly to the fact that they’re currently at an unusually depreciated seat count and, based on the geography of Liberal strongholds, basically can’t sink any lower. Ignatieff gets to say “good for me, the ship was sinking and I turned it around” and can exit gracefully. He goes to U of T because academia is where he’d rather be, and he’s invested too much personal credibility into refuting “just visiting” to go back to Harvard (at least right away) and basically tell Canada that the Conservatives were right all along. But the good news for most readers of this site is that Harper will also step down after a 3rd straight minority victory, so we’ll have at least two leadership races (no way the Libs will coronate Rae after the flat start that Ignatieff got off to) that might give us some leaders who get this country excited and engaged in our national life. Lord knows that we’re collectively in an apathetic funk right now; is that because of our leaders, or do we get the leaders that we deserve?

  26. Dan F. says:

    “for reasons that would shortly become become crystal clear…”

    John Tory still pondering running for Mayor?

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