Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Ignatieff "following" Dion?

As a follow up to Ignatieff's Op/Ed in the Globe and Mail yesterday, Linda Diebel contributed an article to today's Toronto Star regarding other candidates' reactions to yesterday's Op/Ed. While mostly innocuous, certain aspects of the article show a somewhat worrisome trend in terms of the style of discourse in the leadership campaign.

For example, take the following section:
"Well, it's what our (interim) leader (Bill Graham) requested and most candidates are in agreement," Dion said last night. "Now that we have another candidate weighing in with the same view − after the others but, anyway, coming in − is positive ... He's following me."

It's true that Stéphane Dion made a statement several weeks ago regarding the conflict. It's also true that Michael Ignatieff's first statement came yesterday. It's also true that both candidates called for a ceasefire. To state that Ignatieff is following Dion, however, is a disingenuous on Dion's part.

Ignatieff's contribution is one of the more original pieces of thought that the campaign has seen thus far and it should be constructively engaged by other leadership candidates.

Candidates frequently reference each other's original contributions to the political discourse; to not do so would be to pretend that none of the other candidates' ideas have any merit. Doing so allows one to further debate in a constructive and non-confrontational way; doing so means healthier debate where ideas are evaluated on their merits.

To state that Ignatieff is solely "following" Dion minimizes the contribution that Mr. Ignatieff has made. Ignatieff did much more than simply call for a ceasefire. He demonstrated a profound understanding of the issue and posited a coherent and detailed plan for resolving the crisis.

Whether one agrees with Mr. Ignatieff's plan or not is irrelevant; indeed, one can certainly poke holes in his model for conflict resolution. The only relevant issue here, however, is whether it constitutes a positive and original contribution to the discourse surrounding the conflict. On that count, one must conclude that he has.


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