Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ignatieff Tells Members, If You're Going To Speak Out, Shut Up!

This morning to a room of dedicated Liberals, Ignatieff told them, "If you're not going to say anything to help us win, shut up!"

At the Policy Matters conference in Vancouver today Michael Ignatieff took to the stage, speaking on the hard work that lies ahead for the Liberal Party. Though for the most part his words roused the audience of party faithfuls, one statement left an uncertain and questioning resonance with the crowd.

In the latter half of his speech, Ignatieff said, "Before you speak, think, if you're not going to say anything to help us win, shut up!" Preceding the last two words was a slight pause, and with their utterance, a strong loud emphasis.

Following Ignatieff's statement the awkwardness was palpable, speaking to two members afterwards, both felt unsure of the Liberal Leader's need to be so harsh. Another Liberal pointing out that it was not as if Ignatieff was speaking to some opposing Party, or that these Liberals did anything that deserved such a rebuke.

Telling Party members to shut up if they have a different position of the party or any criticism of it, is sensational and rude. At a time with Liberal support is at almost record lows, the Leader shouldn't be so disrespectful to the people he so dearly depends upon.

I did not pay $150 on the delegate fee, $300 on the hotel, work on policy tirelessly for three weeks, drive for 4 hours, spend a weekend in a convention hall debating policy to hear the admittedly unpopular Liberal Leader, who just stopped by the conference for a few hours, to say if you have a differing opinion, shut up. If I wanted a Leader like that I'd have joined the Conservatives.

Michael Ignatieff has a serious problem if he thinks it's okay to treat members that way... I mean a more serious problem.

42 comments:

Kebian said...

I think you're simplifying the issue too much.

Scott, I attended the Edmonton session. Ignatieff was talking about communication with the public--talking to our neighbours, saying that "Ignatieff isn't that bad of a guy", and presenting a cohesive face. That's the expectation and he made it bluntly clear.

There are ways to showcase your discontent privately. As a guy who has had a bit of unhappiness with certain aspects of the party I have vocalized them privately and they have been heard. That door is ALWAYS open and the ears to discontent in the party are ALWAYS there.

If you're in a party you're expected to have a level of acceptance that you need to toe the party line, at least as much as the parameters are set out. The Liberal Party has turned (or is turning?) into a grassroots party; What every member says matters and what every member does matters. You are part of this team and we need to have a coherent voice.

If you can't help but be a negative nancy on everything you should shut up. If you can't help but piss and moan about things, you should shut up.

That said (and Ignatieff made this point equally as blunt) if you can help, if you can give direction, if you can help lead, and if you can highlight what makes voting for a Liberal a noble, indeed great, act, then SPEAK UP.

Which you did and have done. The preparation you did, this entire blog (not this specific post, mind you), your tireless effort.. That's the expectation and you're leading. You're part of this party, part of this movement. What you say and what you do matters--fellow Liberals and Canadians are listening.

That's the expectation, Mr. Ross. To do otherwise betrays both your fellow Liberal and fellow Canadians.

And if you can't fulfil that expectation...

MississaugaPeter said...

Hi Scott!

Anyone have video/audio of this?

Brian G. Rice said...

I have to agree with Kebian here Scott. Publicly attacking our leader does not help us win. It does nothing to get rid of Harper. All it does is reinforce the image of a party that is too busy attacking itself to care about the country.

This is the time. We can win. We can win with Michael as our leader. All we need to do is support him.

MississaugaPeter said...

Kebian and Brian G. Rice,

Maybe you should stop being critical of Scott: a good leader does not publicly tell the hard working grassroots members of it's party to "shut up". I believe this unprecedented if true.

Kebian said...

Peter,

Ignatief didn't do it publicly.

He did it in a closed room and extra-ordinarily active party members, some of whom who have been championing mergers with the NDP or openly criticizing him.

You are being misdirected here: in the same breath Ignatieff said to SPEAK UP when people had new ideas or good things to say. Or good tools. Or good policy. Or better ways to do things. He spent a solid four or so minutes at the conference in Edmonton hammering that theme in. The "shut up" bit was greeted by laughter and clapping by the Liberals in Alberta.

If yu think he's trying to quiet the party and the grassroots you're gravely mistaken. He wants them to contribute and to continue leading as they have done before.

At least this was the way I understod it.

Liberal Justice said...

Ignatieff would be doing a whole lot better if some of those people he told to shut-up actually did!!!

Red Tory Liberal said...

The people who have spoken out have been active members of the party and while I agree critcism is needed they should have went to the party and to the leader and not to the Globe, The Star or CTV.

Ignatieff could have phrased himself a lot better though and should have asked for these people to talk to him privately.

Big Winnie said...

I was at the TO conference and I certainly wasn't offended by Michael's speech, in fact, I agreed with him.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Kebian and Brian, this is a matter of opinion, and just maybe a majority of people will not agree with me, and will sadly condone a Leader saying such things. But in the end Ignatieff unneedlessly lessened the support he would have received from at least one Liberal and made others seriously wonder about his statement.

Peter it was a long speech and I only had 2 minutes of it recorded on my cell. And though Brian and other Liberals were there to vouch Ignatieff did say this, I too wanted it on tape because I am still in disbelief a less than popular leader would say that.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Kebian I will also add if you are suggesting the Liberal Party does not allow its regular members to criticize their Party (Ignatieff did not differentiate between public and private) I would suggest that such an opinion would not be widely held within the Party, including within the PArty constitutionally, and within the general public.

I beleive I am a pretty dedicated Liberal, more so than 99.9% of us, but if the Liberal Party restricts criticism, public or private, that would be a major problem.

RuralSandi said...

There's a time and place - you should have discussed your concerns with him then - not in public.

Hey, it works for Harper

Jim said...

Funny how I see the term "dictator" thrown around quite often when describing Harper, yet the Liberals have an installed leader who tells his most faithful followers that public dissent is verboten and to "shut up".

The irony is delicious.

Cherniak_WTF said...

Publicly attacking our leader does not help us win
So you prefer that some drink the Kool-Aid when the leader is clearly inept?

He's "lead" the Liberals into being openly mocked and next to a carbon copy of the Conservatives...

He's been inept and grandstanding.

Maybe, if he were a better leader and not prone to flip-flopping he'd get more respect...

Brian G. Rice said...

Cherniak:

I said "publicly". When I have a concern about our Leader, or Caucus, I express it in private, to the people who can actually affect change. Public condemnation of my party and my leader doesn't lead to success.

I'm also not talking about valid criticism. I can, and do, publicly suggest that I would rather that we take a different position on things. But there is a difference between saying Ì think we shouldn`t vote for Bill C-15, and here`s why, and `The Leader needs to be replaced because he doesn`t agree with me on this issue...` I think the first is helpful, and not at all what Mr. Ignatieff was talking about. The second is damaging to this party, and shouldn`t happen.

ChrisInKW said...

Wow, you guys got shafted on the costs. Ours in Toronto was $45 and included lunch.

Admittedly, he did come down a bit harsh when speaking to jokers like Kinsella and others... however, the rest of his speech was pretty good. Everyone in the room indicated as such with their applause.

Cherniak_WTF said...

@ Brian, I do understand what you are saying and would normally agree.

At the moment, Iggy seems to be... well I'm not sure what he is doing but it's not leading the Liberals.

Part of the problem is that he's been given enough time to find his footing and yet still can't seem to do anything right...

Given the misdeeds, mismanagement and general incompetence that Harper has demonstrated, you have to wonder why Iggy has not capitalized on any. Telling faithful to "shut up"... well, apart from showing his frustration, just shows that he is not a leader. Maybe he'd like to be the head of the LIberals until he gets the hang of being a politician over his academics of reading about being a politician...

CK said...

Well, I'm with the group that this little incident shouldn't have been publicized, as it helps the Harpercons and their cheerleaders. So, he told a group of party members to shut-up behind closed doors. I'm sure much worse is said behind closed doors at these things.

This little incident is going to be the high light over at the blogging tories now. Stephen Taylor has just kicked off the festivities. How much longer before his puppets follow suit?

I think the Liberals need a new leader too, but we're stuck with Iggy, let's please try to make the best out of this or Steve will get his majority come this fall (a fall election is most likely).

Seriously, how is this nitpicking helping prevent a Harpercon majority?

bullpup said...

With all due respect, Mr. Ignatieff, I think the party might do a little better if you would shut-up.

Werner Patels said...

Maybe the problem is not the leader, but the members ... just saying....

Brian G. Rice said...

Chris: The cost for the Sunday Policy Matters event was $20. The cost for the entire policy conference that started on friday was much higher, but did include the Sunday event.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

People can hold whatever opinion they wish, but if the Liberal Party tells me to shut up when I give constructive criticism in private or public, then that's the day I leave the party.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

I'll stress that prior to Ignatieff's statement the Conference on Friday and Saturday was a great success and Brian did a great job. I still disagree with him however on Ignatieff's comments.

Jim said...

If I was going to spend $150 to get told to shut up it would involve a buxom blond in thigh high leather boots and a whip.

Kidding....just trying to inject a little levity.

ChrisInKW said...

Brian, I figured it was rolled into a larger policy conference but the OP was unclear in his post. Thank you for clarifying this.

Werner, I tend to agree with you. The point in Mr Ignatieff's speech where he told people to keep quiet was when he spoke about the unnecessary negative attention people like Kinsella and Mraz have brought onto the party recent with the merger talk.

The OP attempts to establish that Ignatieff doesn't welcome debate. This is a stretch at best. The whole Policy Matters tour has seen people thirsty for debate and the caucus getting involved. Many people at Toronto has never before been to a Liberal event, let alone anything political. The thirst is there and Ignatieff recognizes this.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Chris, Ignatieff had been previously talking about strategies for the general membership to adopt to fight future elections. If anything the implication was, and this was others opinion as well, Ignatieff was speaking to everyone, not just the Kinsellas etc.

ChrisInKW said...

Scott, that's not good. Did anyone stand up to call him on it?

If many people took it as him banishing debate at a policy conference (of all places), has anyone emailed the party for an official comment?

From what I understand, they now use an email tracking server to allow for efficient response to inquiries.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

I didn't say anything after because I looked around and I guess I waited for someone else to stand up. After talking to a few other Liberals it seemed at least everyone was a bit put off by it but no one had the guts to say anything.

I haven't emailed but I will.

ChrisInKW said...

Perhaps you can post the response to your email once you get something back. I'm sure many of us would appreciate that. Thank you.

Northern PoV said...

There are obviously better and worse ways to provide feedback to your party and starting stupid stories (ala The Grand Dickhead-Kinsella) in the press, is, well ... stupid. So say that. Do not tell your party in general to shut up - it makes him sound just like Nancy Ruth.

I have heard Iggy twice live and many times on TV and never felt inspired or even vaguely warm. I worked against him in 2006 and wish we had never shoe-horned this guy into the leaders office. He has learned little in the past four years and remains politically tone-deaf. He generates bad headlines whenever he opens his mouth.
His latest flatulence:
* Pandering to Alberta (again)
* Staying in Afghanistan past 2011

Norman Farrell said...

I now remember why I quit the Liberal Party all those years ago. The leaders wanted members to provide cash, work as door knockers, table sitters or seat fillers but speaking out on policy matters was better left to the higher purpose people. Hold up that sign and cheer on command but, otherwise, shut up.

And parties that treat the loyal troops that way soon decide that everyone outside the leader's circle can bloody well shut up until they are needed. As we determined recently, Gordon Campbell's own Liberal caucus members learned about HST just hours before the public announcement was made. The grassroots party members learned on the 6 pm news.

Do you guys want to awaken the federal Liberal party by telling members to keep quiet and listen until we tell you what to say.

Brian G. Rice said...

Scott, thanks for the recognition of the weekend. There was an awful lot of good that happened this weekend, whether you liked the leader`s speech or not.

I never once thought that Mr. Ignatieff was trying to stifle legitimate criticism. And the people I spoke with after the speech didn`t see it that way either. As I said before, there is a difference between having a legitimate disagreement with the party or the leader over policy or strategy, and wholesale recommending that we should merge with the NDP. Surely you can see that what has been happening in the past few months in our party has not been the voice of reasoned criticism, but rather the attacks of disgruntled and angry people. When balanced by everything I know about Mr. Ignatieff, I do not believe that he was suggesting a blind obedience.

What he requested in his speech, and with this I 100% agree, was that we think before we speak, that we examine our motivations before we write the blog post. His point was, quite legitimately, that if our intention was to try to help the party then do so loudly. If the intention was to tear down the leader, caucus or the party, then we should probably not say anything.

One last point to everyone who has been so quick to judge, especially if you were not in one of the 5 rooms this speech was delivered in (Scott was there, and I do think that this falls into legitimate criticism, btw. I don`t agree with him, but I understand his point of view). Mr. Ignatieff has been criticised since his first day as leader for not having a firm control on his party. Now that he has started to be forceful in his control of the party, these very same people are now crying foul. It was to these people Mr. Ignatieff was speaking. You want only to tear down our leader, so that you can try and install your pet leadership candidate. This is the attitude that is destroying our party, not the effectiveness of Mr. Ignatieff.

Scott, this kind of post was not the target of Mr. Ignatieff`s speech. This kind of questioning and concern for our party shows the intent of a loyal member. I don`t agree with you, but I respect your opinion.

CK said...

I still say it's a big deal over nothing and it should have stayed behind closed doors. Does anyone honestly think Iggy is the first leader of any political party to use harsh language in a room with party faithful? Of course not. And it won't be the last. I'm sure Harper himself can be far more abrasive.

Northern POV: Do you honestly think Harper is pulling out in 2011? He's in permanent campaign mode, of course he's going to say he's going to pull out. But MPs like McKay have been hinting otherwise for some time now. At least Iggy was being honest about that. Now, they discover that Afghanistan is sitting on some kind of priceless mineral.

Again, where is this Iggy bashing fest supposed to get us? Are many of these posters (that is outside the usual blogging tory and other conservative commentators) willing to entertain a Harpercon majority?

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

CK that's your opinion, and my opinion is that Ignatieff disrespected the general membership. Whether you agree or not, it's fact that Ignatieff negatively affected at least some of his Liberal base, and that's never a good thing.

bocanut said...

Count Ignatieff's ancestors and countrymen starved dissenting people to death,I suppose telling them to shut up is an improvement.

bullpup said...

Jim said...
If I was going to spend $150 to get told to shut up it would involve a buxom blond in thigh high leather boots and a whip.

Kidding....just trying to inject a little levity.

That was fricking funny, OMG, I laugh so many.

Slinger said...

CK,

I think the issue here isn't about whether or not we want the Neo-con-artists out of office, but whether Iggy is the right politician to get the job done.

Scott raised the valid point that Iggy has negatively affected the Liberal base (myself included). Which makes it difficult for me to see him as anything other than the lesser of two evils. Frankly the man's opinions are too in league with the Conservative party's thought.

If that weren't enough the last election showed that Ignatieff lacks the charisma necessary to win an election. And trust me losing a war of charisma to Stephen Harper is a tremendous feat.

The question isn't whether or not we ought to support the ideals of the Liberal Party, but whether Iggy is the person we want to represent them.

Slinger said...

Oops, by "the last election showed" I meant, wow I'm really tired and not entirely aware of what I'm typing :P

Despite my apparent brain fart, the fact remains that Iggy has less charisma than Rusty the narcoleptic wiener dog. Much less, that dog was awesome.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Just a late note to let you know I agree with you, Scott Ross.

But a second point, that went unrecognised, it seems, is how stupid a thing it was to say to a roomful of Liberals, as a way of achieving its stated aim.

Is there a party with a membership more likely to dislike such a comment and make it public?

Liberals, from their left to their right, resemble the typically apolitical public more than most. They are not cult-like, like NDP, CPC and separatists. If one's intention, as leader, was to try to keep dissension quiet, pretty much the worst way to achieve that would be to angrily lecture said membership on said point over and over, across the country. Being fairly normal, Liberals won't respond well, and beong fairly normal, will talk about it, and it will become public, undercutting entire point of lecture, and making Leader look bad. So two own goals.

So SR, you're right on substance, but you're righter than you know, because it wasn't just wrong, it was very stupid. Again.

And that is what is trying many Liberals' patience...

marie said...

I gotta agree with Brian Scott.

This is the time. We can win. We can win with Michael as our leader. All we need to do is support him

That goes for you too Scott. Your not helping any when you denounce the Liberal leader.

And Scott; There are ways to showcase your discontent privately. Good advice Kebian

Ignatieff would be doing a whole lot better if some of those people he told to shut-up actually did!!!
Ditto

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

That's your opinion Marie, and by the looks of it you weren't even there. My opinion and others is that Ignatieff spoke unnecessarily and rudely.

It's interesting how Ignatieff didn't hold this opinion when he was up in the polls eh? But that's probably because it was the lip flapping of us regular members that dragged down his popularity, am I right?


------

I will add, I emailed the Liberal Party over a week ago and still have received no response on Ignatieff's comments.

marie said...

That's your opinion Marie, and by the looks of it you weren't even there. My opinion and others is that Ignatieff spoke unnecessarily and rudely.

No Scott I wasn't there but the past couple of years there has been too many loose lips and the Reformatories are cashing in on this so yes I merely wrote my opinion but it doesn't help having loose lips sink the ship before it has even sailed. I have learned early on that one doesn't repeat what is being said behind closed doors. You know the saying, "My sources said" Not good.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

So when a Leader talks to members, in a meeting where any member could have attended, it's top secret? That's something conservatives accept.

Ignatieff was rude and disrespectful, if he or you think that is okay to hide that kind of behaviour, I guess we disagree.