Since Linda Diebal's column came out on August 6th concerning Liberal Leadership candidate Michael Ignatieff's bad week, Iggy supporters have been trying to sweep her allegations under the carpet. Today they got a little help from National Post Columnist Warren Kinsella. He wrote:
According to Diebel, what was distressing unnamed "senior Liberals" was that Ignatieff had been mysteriously unavailable to comment on the Israel- Hezbollah war. Was he away on vacation -- or was he attending to a sick relative in Europe? Intoned Diebel: "Where he vacations is his business. No question. But [the confusion] does raise alarm bells about political instincts."
Actually, no, it doesn't -- and I say that as one who has written critically of Ignatieff in the past. For instance, when I contacted the Ignatieff campaign for a planned column on the newsworthiness of the Middle Eastern views of the 11 Grit leadership candidates, his campaign quickly responded, providing voluminous statements and background materials (too much for me to use, in fact). The Star attempted to follow the Post's lead on July 28, but found -- to its apparent chagrin -- that Ignatieff could not be reached.
This does nothing to refute Diebel's contention, for in fact Iggy was indeed unavailable for comment even when Kinsella tried to get hold of him. Being provided with background material by the campaign, from which one is supposed to glean the candidate's position on this or that matter, is not the same as being given a formal statement by the candidate, and Kinsella should know the difference. Presumably, The Star was able to reach Iggy's campaign staff on July 28th, but noted rightly that this was not the same thing as reaching Iggy himself.
As for the "family emergency" vs. "chronically ill mother-in-law" thing, Kinsella's defense misses the point. It was generally given out by Iggy supporters, including (if I remember correctly) his campaign, that Iggy was off in Europe on serious personal business. Therefore a) he would not issue a statement on the War, and b) it was wrong to criticize him for not issuing a statement.
Discovering that Iggy spent part of the time prancing about the mountains of Hungary on a pony (or whatever) and didn't issue a statement because he felt that he "deserved a vacation" still makes him come across as somewhat less than Prime Ministerial.