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Election Matters… Elections Matter

4 May

Do you remember, just before the recent federal election, when I predicted – on this very blog – the following scenarios?:

* I predicted that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would run a plodding, repetitive, bubble-like campaign, highlighted by an almost daily parade of negative news headlines and mini-scandals, in which he would answer almost every question posed to him with a rote warning that the country faced dire consequences unless voters elected a stable, secure, national, majority Conservative government. I wrote that on Election Day, Canadians would give his party exactly what he asked for, thanks mostly to voters in the Greater Toronto area.

* I predicted that NDP Leader Jack Layton, fresh from hip surgery and a bout with cancer, would fire up the imaginations of voters with the sheer force of his personality and with campaign speeches that spoke of the “winds of change”. I foretold that those winds would carry him right into the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, thanks mostly to the province of Quebec, which would elect almost 60 neophyte NDP MPs to the next Parliament – more than half of the NDP’s new caucus, and more seats than they had ever won before.

* I predicted that Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff would run a high-energy but ultimately fruitless campaign that would lead his party to its worst-ever electoral result, that it would be reduced to third party status in the House of Commons for the first time in Canadian history, and that Ignatieff would lose his own Toronto-area seat and resign as leader the morning after the election. In fact, I predicted that the Liberal Party would lose most of the Toronto-area ridings that it held for six election campaigns and almost two decades.

* I predicted that after two decades dominating federal politics in Quebec, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe would run an increasingly desperate campaign that would lead his party into political oblivion, that the Bloc would be reduced to a rump of four seats, lose official party status in the House of Commons and that Duceppe would also lose his own seat and announce the end of his political career on election night. I also noted that the Bloc’s historic defeat would likely come at the hands of a New Democratic Party that had never had more than a single Quebec MP in the House of Commons at any one time, and whose successful candidates would include a 19-year-old university student and an anglophone Ottawa bartender who spent more of the campaign in Las Vegas than in her rural francophone riding.

* Finally, I predicted that – although her party would earn a smaller percentage of the popular vote than it did in the last election, and she would be excluded from the televised leader debates – Green Party Leader Elizabeth May would make history by becoming the first-ever member of that party to win a seat in the House of Commons, that she would unseat a veteran cabinet minister, and that she would be returning to Ottawa as the MP for Saanich – Gulf Islands, British Columbia.

I predicted all of these things. I really did.

You saw that old blog post of mine, didn’t you? I must have lost the link…

If not, you’ll just have to take my word that I saw everything coming all along.

Or maybe you should take note of the short sentence that opened up John Duffy’s 2002 book, “Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada”.

“Elections matter,” Duffy wrote.

When the 2011 federal election began, nobody could have foreseen what the results would be, even though many people – myself included – figured the most likely outcome would be roughly the status quo: A Conservative minority government, a Liberal official opposition, a few dozen NDP MPs, the Bloc continuing its hold on most Quebec ridings, and the resumption of what had been almost seven years of volatile minority political wrangling, machinations, and brinkmanship.

What happened instead was the biggest sea change in Canadian federal politics in recent memory. In one night, for better or worse, Canadian voters put Stephen Harper into the history books as one of the most successful and longest-serving Conservative Prime Ministers in history (assuming he serves out his full mandate), gave the NDP an unprecedented influence, probably destroyed the Bloc Quebecois entirely, and put in grave doubt the future of the Liberal Party of Canada – the most successful 20th Century political party in the Western democratic world.

Elections matter indeed.

This Election’s Battlegrounds

30 Mar

Earlier this month, with a possible election imminent, opposition MPs pounced on an embarrassing internal  memo that seemed to reveal the Conservative party’s strategy for winning over votes in “very ethnic” ridings.

With the election now on, that strategy seems very much be in play.

When it comes to wooing voters, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives don’t tend to pitch broad sweeping visions designed to win broad sweeping mandates.

Instead, they tend to reach out to select groups of Canadians in incremental ways.

In the three elections the Conservative Party has fought since its creation in 2003, it went from narrowly losing a minority in 2004, to narrowly winning a minority in 2006, to winning a slightly less narrow minority in 2008.

In its quest for a majority, the party’s strategy is to focus intently on handfuls of specific ridings and on handfuls of specific groups of voters who may put them over the top in those ridings. A targeted tax cut here, a symbolic recognition of a historic wrong there, and soon enough a narrow majority builds voter-by-voter, group-by-group, riding-by-riding.

Or so the thinking goes.

That’s where the “very ethnic” ridings come into play. For the Conservatives, traditionally Liberal ridings with significant populations of ethnic minority groups are seen as ripe for the picking. The party made some promising gains in many of those ridings in 2008, and is hoping to make a number of breakthroughs this time around.

The internal memo that fell into the hands of the Conservative Party’s opponents revealed the party had identified a number of ridings across the country with substantial populations of voters from particular ethnic groups. Conservatives were formulating a plan to win these ridings.

As embarrassed as Conservatives may have been by the revelation of the memo, the ethnic strategy has been much in evidence since the campaign began.

In the first five days of his campaign tour, Harper chose to visit Brampton, outside of Toronto, twice. He also made a stop in Burnaby, B.C. Both of those areas have large communities of new Canadians.

In his speeches at these stops, Harper has not been subtle about the “very ethnic” pitch, tying his audience’s immigrant status into his other major campaign message: That his opponents are plotting a coalition:

“People like you,” he said in Burnaby,  “people who have come to this country from all over the world, all the different origins in the world, they’ve all come here because they believe in Canada. And they don’t want Members of Parliament who are going to sign on to Mr. Ignatieff’s reckless idea that he can lose an election and then run Canada backed by the NDP and the Bloc Québécois.”

Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff told a multicultural audience of supporters that his opponent had crossed a line.

“(Harper) said ‘You people, you people who come from other lands.’ ” Ignatieff said.  “The last time I heard somebody talk about the ethnic vote, it was out of the mouth of Jacques Parizeau… I don’t want to be the prime minister of you people, I want to be the prime minister of the Canadian people.”

Among the ten “very ethnic” ridings mentioned in the Conservative memo is one riding – Mount Royal, in Montreal – with a large Jewish population. In 2008, Conservative candidate Peter Kent took the Toronto-area riding of Thornhill, the only riding in Canada with a similarly large population of Jewish voters (about 35 per cent of the riding).

Could the Conservative Party win over enough Jewish voters to take Mount Royal riding this time around?

It would be a notable victory, because Mount Royal has voted Liberal since the 1930s, long before it had a significant Jewish population. It was the riding of former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. This is in contrast to Thornhill, which is a very suburban, more small-c conservative swing riding.

Although Harper’s policies and public statements on Israel may have won over some portion of the Jewish community, is it a big enough portion to make a difference in ridings like Mount Royal? When it comes to a final decision at the ballot box, voters tend to focus on domestic issues and leadership, so it’s not even certain if the Canadian government’s relationship with Israel will be a factor in the final vote.

But with the Conservatives only a few “ethnic” ridings away from a majority, expect the furious wooing to continue until election day.

Election drumbeats and flag waves

24 Jan

This past weekend, inside an Ottawa convention centre, the Prime Minister of Canada stood in front of the biggest Canadian flag this side of Canada Day, at a podium bearing a placard with a single word in large white letters:

“Canada”.

To a crowd of hundreds of supporters waving smaller Canadian flags, there to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his government’s first election victory, Stephen Harper spoke of the people “who are the foundations of Canada”:

“The truck driver. The bank teller. The pensioner. The salesperson. The farmer, the fisherman. The entrepreneur, the autoworker. The tradesperson and the soldier… Whoever has the honor to lead them must care about them and must love Canada as much as they do.”

No mention of Canada-loving college professors or patriotic performance artists. But never mind…

The same weekend as Harper was giving his anniversary speech, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was wrapping up an 11-day tour of 20 ridings across Canada that his party thinks it can win from other parties.

“Canadians are entitled to ask, ‘are you better off than you were five years ago,’ “ Ignatieff said at the outset of his tour. “Is the economy stronger and is Canada more respected in the world? And I think the answers to all of those questions is no.”

NDP leader Jack Layton was on a cross-country tour of his own.

“If an election comes, New Democrats will be ready to go,” Layton said in Vancouver. “But until then, we’re asking Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff to work with us to get some results for Canadians right now.”

To underline the election-readiness half of that double-barreled message, the NDP offered reporters a “sneak peak at their new cutting-edge election headquarters” in Ottawa. A few days earlier, a reporter obtained and published an internal NDP memo declaring the party “prepared to wage an aggressive federal election campaign at any time”.

Meanwhile, the Conservative and Liberal parties released campaign-style attack ads.

The two Liberal ads were both aimed at the Prime Minister, painting him as more interested in fighter jets and corporate tax cuts than in the concerns of ordinary Canadians, and asking “Is this your Canada? Or Harper’s?”

The Conservatives had several different ads attacking each of the other major party leaders, although Ignatieff was targeted more than others.

“Ignatieff. He didn’t come back for you,” declared the Conservative ads, which described the Leader of the Official Opposition as a tax-and-spend liberal with a dubious commitment to his home country, similar to earlier attack ads that claimed Ignatieff was “just visiting” Canada after many years abroad.

So… are you ready for an election campaign? Or maybe you kinda feel we’re already into one.

Or maybe you’d rather not even think about it even a little bit. If that’s the case, you’re probably in the majority.

And maybe you won’t really have to think about it at all. Because it all could be a bluff.

In a minority Parliament, parties are always in election mode, ready to hit the campaign trail at any moment. And we’ve now had minority Parliaments in this country for more than 6.5 straight years. That’s a Canadian record, if you’re keeping score.

Over that time we’ve had a number of near-elections. Remember Belinda Stronach crossing the floor to help save Paul Martin’s minority government? Remember Stéphane Dion repeating over and over again how he had the power to pull the plug on Harper’s government… until finally Harper decided to pull it himself? Remember when Ignatieff announced, “Mr. Harper, your time is up?”

Ignatieff’s announcement came more than 17 months ago. No, there hasn’t been an election since then.

If there is an election this year, it likely will be triggered by a defeat of the federal budget sometime before the end of March. Any later than that and a federal election will come up against a number of already scheduled provincial elections, including Ontario’s.

Of course, all it will take to avoid an election will be a single opposition party deciding it is in its interest to prop up the government for another while longer.

But if this latest not-quite-an-election period is any indication, we already have a sense of how the next real campaign will unfold:

It will get personal. There will be flag waving. And if poll numbers (which have remained relatively consistent in the five years since Harper’s first election victory) don’t move much during the campaign, then we’re looking at many more record months of minority Parliament.

The Jewish Vote

23 Nov

Will the next federal election turn on a nasty dispute over which political party is more anti-Semitic than the other?

Probably not. But given the controversy that unfolded recently in the House of Commons, it may not be for lack of trying.

Caught up in the dispute was Irwin Cotler, the former Liberal Minister of Justice and MP for Mount Royal riding in west-end Montreal.

Full disclosure: I spent most of my formative years living in that riding. I’ve known Cotler, who is a friend of my uncle’s, since I was a young child.

It has one of the largest Jewish populations of any riding in Canada. Mount Royal riding also has been represented by a Jewish MP in the House of Commons for more than a quarter-century. Before Cotler, the late Sheila Finestone held the seat for many years.

Not only is it one of the more Jewish-flavored ridings in the country, it is also one of the safest Liberal seats around. It has been almost 75 years since Mount Royal elected a non-Liberal MP. When I was growing up, our local MP was none other than Pierre Trudeau.

A mailbox, the joke goes, could win the riding thanks to its red color. A bad election for Mount Royal Liberals is when their candidate wins less than 65 per cent of the vote.

By that measure, last year’s federal election was not a good one for Irwin Cotler. He was reelected easily, with 55.6 per cent of the vote. But his Conservative rival won 27.3 per cent, an almost ten per cent improvement from that party’s showing in the previous election.

By comparison, when Cotler first ran for Parliament in a 1999 by-election, he won more than 90 per cent of all votes cast.

It was a similar story elsewhere in the country in the handful of Liberal ridings with substantial Jewish populations. In Toronto, the Liberals easily won ridings such as Eglinton-Lawrence and York Centre, but with pluralities instead of their frequent outright majorities.

As well, in the 2008 election, the Conservatives took suburban Thornhill, the riding with the largest percentage of Jewish voters in Ontario, although Thornhill does have a history as a swing riding, rather than as a safe Liberal seat.

All of this may explain the recent Commons kerfuffle over anti-Semitism. In a minority Parliament, parties look for any edge they can find to win the few seats that may put them over the top next time around.

For Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, hungry for a majority after twice falling just short, traditionally Liberal seats with sizable populations of ethnic minorities seem to hold the most promise. They are the kinds of ridings in which the Conservative Party made notable headway last year, and hopes to do even better when another election is called.

That helps to explain why households in Mount Royal and other ridings with large Jewish populations recently received taxpayer-funded Conservative party flyers that contrasted Conservative and Liberal actions on issues thought to be of interest to Jewish voters: anti-Semitism; Fighting terrorism; Support for Israel.

“(Conservatives) led the world in refusing participation in Durban II hate-fest against Israel,” one of the flyer’s bullet points read, referring to the controversial UN Conference on Racism. “(Liberals) willingly participated in overtly anti-Semitic Durban I.”

Not so fast, replied Cotler and other Liberal MPs from ridings targeted by the Conservative campaign. In the House of Commons, Cotler demanded an apology, pointing out that he had been an outspoken critic of Durban I, which he attended in 2001:

“Not only did the Canadian delegation and I myself speak unequivocally in condemnation of Durban but… Israel, at the time, publicly commended Canada for its participation and the nature of its participation in the Durban I conference.”

It is quite a stretch to paint an MP like Irwin Cotler – whose bona fides as a human rights activist and a supporter of Jewish causes are impeccable – with even the hint of an anti-Semitic brush.

Conservatives were careful not to criticize Cotler directly, but also offered no apologies for the flyers. Instead, they pointed to controversial statements made in the past by other Liberal MPs, including leader Michael Ignatieff.

Will these hardball tactics work? Tories risk a backlash if Jewish voters feel manipulated or turned off by playing politics with accusations of anti-Semitism.

But the party seems confident that the Jewish vote is ripe for the picking.

Prime Minister Ringo

5 Oct

When I checked out my Facebook news feed the other day, I knew Michael Ignatieff was in trouble.

No, I’m not Facebook friends with the Liberal leader, so I have no idea if he posted any sort of news – troubled or otherwise – in his status update.

But here’s what I saw after I logged onto my Facebook account:

An online video of Stephen Harper playing piano and singing the Beatles’ classic song “With a Little Help from my Friends” at the National Arts Centre, accompanied by internationally famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma.

I saw it more than once. It was posted multiple times in my news feed by multiple Facebook friends. My more partisan friends added more partisan comments. My less partisan friends added comments such as “Wow!”

It wasn’t only my friends who were watching and posting the video. A day after the Prime Minister did his best Ringo impression in a surprise appearance at an NAC gala chaired by his wife, the video was the number-one most watched YouTube video in Canada.

Two other video versions of the same performance were in the Top Ten.

Although Tory bloggers began spreading it around the Web, the video’s non-partisan appeal helped it go viral.

And over a couple of days, the virus spread from the Internet to the weekend news programs and to the front pages of the daily newspapers, with photos of the PM’s performance alongside largely favourable reviews.

In the last federal election, a Conservative ad agency put Harper in a fuzzy sweater vest, sat him in a comfy old armchair, bathed him in a soft, warm light and shot a series of campaign ads of him talking softly about his values as a piano tinkled in the background and strings soared.

The ads didn’t really do their job – which was to soften up Harper’s mean-guy image and help win him a majority government – and they were largely abandoned by campaign’s end. Stephen Harper just doesn’t credibly feel like a sweater vest kind o’ guy.

But a relaxed and surprisingly talented PM singing a Beatles’ tune on stage at a music gala? Well, that’s a different story – and fodder for the kind of political advertising that money can’t buy.

On the Maclean’s magazine website, Scott Feschuk joked that in the wake of Harper’s tuneful triumph, “…Jack Layton is tuning his guitar, Elizabeth May is figuring out how to deliver her speeches via karaoke and Michael Ignatieff is… I don’t know, what would Michael Ignatieff play? The lute? The equiviconium? The underwhelm-o-spiel? I fear a four-hour one-man play may be the price we pay for Harper’s Beatles cover. Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Ignatieff is Michael Ignatieff in Michael Ignatieff.”

How do you compete with a singing, piano-playing, crowd-pleasing Prime Minister? That’s what the Liberal leader must have been thinking when the story broke.

In the coverage of the Singing PM, it did not go unremarked that on the very weekend that Harper jammed with Yo-Yo, Ignatieff was at a Liberal Party meeting in Quebec City, trying to get out of a political jam created by Liberal MP Denis Coderre.

Coderre had recently resigned as Ignatieff’s “Quebec Lieutenant” in a very publicly damaging way, blasting the advisers around the Liberal leader who had influenced Ignatieff to reverse a riding candidate decision of Coderre’s.

The details of the spat are less important than the fact that Coderre had been so public about it, opening the door for further sniping – anonymous and otherwise – from Liberals on both sides of what seemed to be an increasingly divided party.

Ever since Ignatieff emerged from a relatively quiet summer to announce that Liberals no longer planned to support the Conservative minority government, his party has been plagued with negative headlines and poll numbers that put it in the territory it was in when Stéphane Dion led it to one of the worst election defeats in its history.

Indeed, Tories are now musing about achieving the majority government that eluded them in the sweater vest era. The only thing keeping us from finding out whether that is possible is that the NDP is now supporting the government to keep the minority parliament going.

The NDP reversal may have saved Ignatieff’s bacon. The Liberal leader’s decision to try to provoke an election is looking increasingly suicidal.

It’s one thing to run against Sweater Vest Guy. It’s an entirely different matter to run against the Fifth Beatle.

The NDP: What Might Have Been…

12 May

In the alternate Bizarro universe of Canadian politics, we are into the fifth month in power of the current coalition government, led by that most unexpected of Prime Ministers, Stéphane Dion.

The reviews are mixed. The controversial way the government took power has divided Canadians along geographic and partisan lines. It’s also still unclear how well its fiscal plan will help alleviate the country’s economic crisis. But on the foreign affairs front, Dion’s good relationship with like-minded American President Barack Obama has had a positive effect on our country’s relations with the United States, with new bilateral agreements in the works.

Of course, the government has been helped immensely by the complete chaos on the opposition benches. Conservative leader Stephen Harper is facing open internal revolt over his leadership, after letting power slip from his hands into those of Dion, mere weeks after the Tory election victory. The Official Opposition has been giving the government a much freer ride than expected, as it sorts through its own divisions and ponders its newly shaky future.

For their part, Bloc Québécois MPs have been absolute pussycats, content to bask in the glow of their success in helping to bring this new government into being, and showing no sign of breaking the agreement that will keep the coalition in power – and the Bloc in its influential kingmaker role – for many months to come.

As for New Democrats, they have never been in a better political position, experiencing Parliament from the government benches for the first time in party history. NDP leader Jack Layton, Dion’s prominent Industry Minister, is up every day in the House of Commons answering questions about his sweeping auto industry bailout. Layton is enjoying unprecedented influence in Canadian politics and heightened attention from news media, while the NDP learns lessons about the discipline of power that will serve it well in election campaigns to come.

Okay… it’s not called the alternate Bizarro universe of Canadian politics for nothing.

Back here in our own dimension, things have unfolded quite differently over the past few months. Stephen Harper remains Prime Minister and maintains a firm grip on the Conservative Party, despite that party’s precipitous drop in the polls.

Stéphane Dion is long gone, replaced as Liberal leader by Michael Ignatieff, who put the kibosh to the coalition and saw his party’s popularity rise above the Tories’.

As for Jack Layton… well… what happened to Layton anyhow?

To some extent, every party leader rolled the dice somewhat during the coalition drama last fall. But it was the New Democrats who arguably had the most to gain – a place in government for the first time ever – and who also took the biggest risk in pushing for a coalition.

The idea, in fact, was hatched by the NDP, and Layton was its most emphatic proponent.

“Prime minister, your government has lost the confidence of the House,” Layton said on the day the coalition agreement was signed, “and it is going to be defeated at the earliest opportunity.”

That, of course, wasn’t to be.

In the fallout from the coalition’s collapse, some observers say the NDP has become somewhat marginalized in national politics. It is down in the polls, with a diminished role in Parliament. This despite the fact that Ignatieff has moved the Liberals farther to the right, theoretically leaving more room for New Democrats on the left side of the political spectrum.

“The New Democrat caucus tried to do a big thing – tried to replace the government. And it didn’t happen,” said NDP strategist Brian Topp in a recent interview with the Globe and Mail. “Undertakings that don’t succeed don’t build support.”

So what will rebuild support for the New Democrats? Some suggest a return to the party’s more traditional role as a principled opposition voice from the left. The eternal conundrum for NDPers, of course, is to what extent they should play the political game at the expense of compromising their principles. In the last election, Layton played power politics, explicitly running for Prime Minister.

But despite Layton’s modest electoral success in comparison to his predecessors, some think the party has been more influential as a kind of pressure group from the opposition benches, rather than as a pretender to the throne. There are even some whisperings that for the party to move forward, Layton may have to step down.

It’s a far cry from the alternate universe that might have been, where flowers grow high, the sun always shines, and New Democrats sit in cabinet.

The Legend of Iggy the Liberal

28 Apr

A long, long time ago, not far from a river, close to a park, in a great big house called Stornoway, there lived a tall, thin man named Stéphane. He was the Leader of the Liberals.

It was a nice big house. It had a beautiful yard for his dog, Kyoto. And lots of closet space. And a cook. But Stéphane wanted to live down the road, in an even bigger house, with an even bigger yard, even closer to the river.

So he asked the people of the land to vote for his party. And for something called a Green Shift. And if all went according to plan, and if enough people liked him and his shift, and voted for his party, Stéphane would soon be packing up his bags and his dog, and maybe even his cook. And he’d be heading down to that bigger house by the river.

But the people didn’t really understand Stéphane’s Green Shift. They didn’t always really understand Stéphane himself, truth be told. Not nearly enough people liked him and his party. And not nearly enough people voted for him.

So he called a press conference and announced he was leaving his house for a different, smaller house, and he would let someone else from his party come live in Stornoway. But not for a long, long time.

Soon enough, though, Stéphane made one last risky bid for a move into the big house by the river. With the help of a shorter, balder, smiling man named Jack, and the support of another tall man named Gilles, Stéphane made an unexpected grab for power. And if it wasn’t for that meddling Governor-General, and a wonky video camera, it just might have worked.

But it didn’t work, and the people weren’t happy with Stéphane. They told the pollsters of the land that they liked his party even less than before. And the Liberals weren’t happy with Stéphane, and they convinced him to take his dog and banish himself from Stornoway forever.

The cook stayed behind to make meals for Stéphane’s replacement. It was another tall, thin man who hoped to move into the bigger house down by the road near the river. The new man was called Iggy,

Everyone knew Iggy wanted Stéphane’s job for a long time. He had been the runner-up to Stéphane in the last contest for the leadership of his party. But back then, Iggy was seen as too new, too divisive, too prone to gaffes, too snooty, and too unfamiliar with the land he wanted to lead because he had lived for many years in another kingdom far, far away over the sea.

But times had changed, and maybe Iggy had, too. He had developed a more common touch. He had become more adept at playing the games of politics. He had tasted a lot of rubber chicken and shaken a lot of hands in every fiefdom across the land.

Rivals for the succession – a sandy-haired man named Bob and a stocky young man named Dominic – stepped aside and gave Iggy a clear path to the leadership, not to mention the front-door keys to Stornoway, with its vast closet space, and its big yard, and its short distance from that bigger house down the road.

Soon, it grew darker across the land. Tradesmen began losing their jobs. Commerce became more difficult to practice. The treasuries faced great challenges. The Prime Minister of the land – who lived in that bigger house so coveted by Stéphane and Iggy – grew more and more unpopular.

The people told the pollsters of the land that they liked Iggy more and more. Soon he was just as popular as the Prime Minister himself.

But questions remained:

Was Iggy’s party really a national party anymore – did people all across the land support it enough, or was it only popular in select fiefdoms?

Were Iggy’s leadership and the Prime Minister’s fumbles enough for the party to rebuild, or was the prospect of power preventing the Liberals from conducting serious reflection about what they stood for?

What did Iggy stand for? His critics said he stood for whatever the last voter he spoke to wanted him to stand for. And then he stood for other things when he spoke to other voters.

The people across the land reserved judgment. The Liberals remained hopeful. And Iggy sat in Stornoway, plotting his next moves, and keeping his eye on the bigger house down the road by the river.