My Thoughts on Ignatieff's Letter to a Young Liberal

Michael Ignatieff, in a letter to a young Liberal, admits his “above it all” attitude was politically useless and ultimately fatal. This letter is worthwhile reading regardless of your political stripes. It is an honest assessment of why so many people are dead wrong in thinking that political blood sport is something you can rise above when trying this game. It eviscerates the idea that those people in our world who are brainy, attractive, and rich, will get a room service ride to the political top. Many reading this page will say that the rise of Trudeau proves Ignatieff wrong . And I would say that if you think that, you are wrong, very wrong.

While I have in my various commentaries, permanently disqualified myself as a Trudeau booster, I do think that Trudeau is far more ruthless than Ignatieff, far more consumed with ambition, and enjoys the taste of blood in a way that Ignatieff never could. Allow me to look you in the eye and say it plainly – anyone who underestimates Justin Trudeau’s political tools is a fool. Attack him on intellect, character and values (and I have done that with enthusiasm), but if you want to make the case that he doesn’t have the kit required for successful retail politics, you will have a very steep uphill climb.

Nobody in the brain trust of the Conservative Party of Canada underestimates Trudeau’s skills. On the political battlefield Ignatieff’s king-sized brain could not compensate for his chicken heart. Justin Trudeau is nothing like Michael Ignatieff and what’s rationally frightening to Conservative Party insiders is the knowledge that in some ways Justin Trudeau has greater skills than his father in retailing his brand. Justin enjoys the game far more than Daddy did. It doesn’t matter to me what game you play, if you aren’t tenacious, and if you don’t thoroughly enjoy it, you owe it to your team mates to get off the field before the pathetic outcome forces you off.

I am not saying that Justin Trudeau is a lock to be sworn in as Prime Minister in the next six months – the Conservatives have a strong, well funded machine, and while Stephen Harper may not be the warmest roll in basket, he’s hot for a fight. If Harper chooses to walk, Jason Kenney can take the baton and run all the way. But I am telling you that conservative support complacency is political hemlock.

Reading this letter from Ignatieff is a very useful exercise with a mind to understanding what leadership failure really smells like. And if you read every single word, you’ll know that the failing political animal he is describing is the one he sees in the mirror. It is not Justin Trudeau. I want to be crystal clear with you.

I cannot imagine voting for Justin Trudeau’s team but I have no intention of being some blindfolded cheerleader pretending that Justin is a feeble pol who is only competitive because of a liberal media and a royal pedigree. I am highly aware that there’s a market for what I think of as ‘rhetoric for rubes’. But as a conservative, when I hear it, I just want to climb into the shower and soap away the odor of hustle. What you’re about to read in this letter from a failed political leader is not a rationalization or a tawdry spin job. It’s a very honest report card. And it’s great homework for anyone who cares about or who takes or keeps control of the steering wheel of the Government of Canada.

I'm Charles Adler.