Lib­eral leader Michael Ig­nati­eff

Vancouver Sun - - CANADA & WORLD -

BRICKER: Iggy is a ci­pher. To the ex­tent that the pub­lic knows any­thing about him at all, it’s what the Tories have told them. Ask peo­ple what they know about him and it’s usu­ally the tag lines from Tory ads that come out of their mouths. They plastered him for two months be­fore the cam­paign and it stuck. Par­lia­men­tary Press Gallery re­porters talk about how good he is on the road, how good he is on his feet and how well his cam­paign events go. But none of that has got through to the Cana­dian pub­lic. On ev­ery lead­er­ship at­tribute that we’ve tested — and no mat­ter how we do it — he al­ways scores be­hind Harper and Lay­ton. He seems to be a hard read for peo­ple and they don’t know what he is try­ing to say. Part of it might be his de­liv­ery, but part might re­veal a very real prob­lem about what is it that de­fines the Lib­eral party these days. At the start of the cam­paign, when he tacked hard left, and left the Martin Lib­er­als be­hind, he cre­ated a lot of con­fu­sion as to where the Lib­er­als stand and where the NDP stand. You’re see­ing it bite him pretty hard right now.

GRAVES: He’s had real dif­fi­culty con­nect­ing with the pub­lic, which is puz­zling be­cause he em­bod­ies qual­i­ties peo­ple say they like in a leader. Here you have a guy who is en­dowed with lots of in­tel­li­gence and un­der­stand­ing, yet it doesn’t ap­pear to be giv­ing him any ad­van­tage. It’s pos­si­ble that his more re­flec­tive and thought­ful ap­proach con­veys a lack of de­ci­sive­ness and cer­tainty. He’s clearly an in­tel­lec­tual, but is he ca­pa­ble of mak­ing clear and de­ci­sive de­ci­sions when he has to? That’s the ques­tion with which vot­ers are strug­gling. Ob­vi­ously, the pub­lic doesn’t know Ig­nati­eff as well as they know Mr. Harper but he’s hardly a neo­phyte. The Con­ser­va­tives were suc­cess­ful in fram­ing him in rel­a­tively sim­ple, neg­a­tive terms and he’s had a dif­fi­cult time tran­scend­ing those “ just-vis­it­ing, elit­ist-pa­tri­cian­guy” la­bels be­cause he hasn’t cre­ated a com­fort­able enough pic­ture of him­self through the me­dia. He doesn’t do bet­ter with women or younger peo­ple and, at the be­gin­ning of this cam­paign, they were the only vot­ers avail­able to him. We’ve now seen three suc­ces­sive lead­ers in Paul Martin, Stephane Dion and now Michael Ig­nati­eff who have failed to make that con­nec­tion. So maybe it is more about the po­lit­i­cal mar­ket­place chang­ing than it is about the lead­ers. His best chance now is On­tario and win­ning back those vot­ers who have drifted to Mr. Lay­ton.

dave chan / Post­media news files

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