In his recent story about Michael Ignatieff, Michael Valpy found the Liberal leader to be a far more polished politician after his summer on the road. The reporter has written extensively about Mr. Ignatieff, including an in-depth profile in 2006.
Mr. Valpy took readers' questions, and the transcript is below.
The Globe and Mail: Hello and welcome to today's discussion. Michael Valpy will be joining us shortly.
The Globe and Mail: Just to be clear, today's discussion is with Globe and Mail reporter Michael Valpy. He will be taking questions about Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
Michael Valpy writes for The Globe and Mail on public policy, politics, religion, spirituality and ethics. He has been a member of the newspaper's editorial board, Ottawa national political columnist, Middle East and Africa bureau chief and deputy managing editor. He is co-author of two books on the Constitution and co-author of The New Canada: A Profile of the Next Generation (2004). Mr. Valpy has won three National Newspaper Awards and was nominated for a fourth for a profile of Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff.
In 1997, Canada's Trent University awarded him an honorary doctorate for his journalism. He also has received The Queen's Jubilee Medal. He is a senior fellow at Massey College in the University of Toronto where he also teaches and a fellow of the university's School of Public Policy and Governance.
[Comment From Guest: ]Question for Ignatieff: Has the subject of merging the NDP with the Liberal Party been discussed with Jack Layton or other Liberal party member?
[Comment From Guest: ]If the question of merging the NDP and Liberals is off the table, why is the subject of a coalition government still being considered by the NDP and Liberals? Why is the media still reporting on a possible coalition government?
Michael Valpy: Hi Danielle, hi folks. If coalition is still being considered by the NDP, I'd be surprised if it is being considered by Michael Ignatieff. He didn't like it the last time; as far as I know he doesn't like it now. Coalition simply won't sell in the West.
[Comment From Mike: ]Do you think Mr. Ignatieff possess the necessary skills and understanding of public policy to help the Liberal's electoral success, particularly in such a Conservative haven as western Canada? And, if the party were to fall in short in toppling the Conservative government in the next general election, how open to you think he would be to the notion of a coalition scenario with the New Democrats, if they were to obtain the necessary seats to pass a vote of non confidence.
Michael Valpy: Hi Mike, interesting questions put side by side. Yes, I think he piossesses the necessary skills and understanding of public policy. But I'd be surprised if he favoured a coalition, despite what's happened in the UK and despite the fact coalitions are common in Europe. I think a majority of Canadians in Western Canada (I know, I'm repeating myself) were outraged at the idea in 2008; I don't think they would look at it any more kindly now. We're not there yet.
The Globe and Mail: Thanks for all your great questions so far. We will get to as many of them as we can. We appreciate your patience.
[Comment From Guest: ]Thank you for doing this Mr. Valpy. I was interested to see you use "iggy-mania" in your profile piece on Ignatieff. Resurrecting the thoughts and images of past Liberal glory are certainly exciting to those of us who are inclined towards the grits. But it begs the question, with the polarized electoral map now present in Canada, can Iggy (or anyone for that matter), build a national majority electoral coalition like Trudeau did?
Michael Valpy: I really like the question about whether anyone can build a national majority as Pierre Trudeau did. Well, he did. Brian Mulroney did, Jean Chrétien did. I think there is such a thing as Canadian shared values, Canadian shared aspirations, the imagined community of something called Canada -- something more than 30 mllion people occupying a common hunk of geography. So even with four or five parties it's still possible to have majority government on a Westminster-style first-past-the-post system. More difficult perhaps, but still possible.