Ignatieff speaks

Here at Michael Ignatieff’s election-night bash you’d never know the Liberals have lost. Bedouin Soundclash is throbbing in the basement of Hollywood on the Queensway—a bar in his west Toronto riding—campaign workers are eating pizza, and nobody seems all that glum.

Ignatieff won his Etobicoke-Lakeshore seat. No surprise there. The question was how he’d pitch his remarks on the wider Liberal defeat. To my ear, they sounded very much aimed at a national audience. He spoke quite a bit of French. To beaten Liberal incumbents, he vowed, “I want you to know out there—we’ll get you back.”

Without saying so, of course, he seemed to hint at where the party might have gone wrong in its basic message through this campaign. “We are a party of the centre, not of the left,” Ignatieff declared. “When we hold the centre we win from the centre.”

But he seemed to caution against the idea of bringing down a Tory minority anytime soon. “We have a worried Canada and a frightened Canada,” he said, referring to the economic anxiety set off by the financial markets mess. “We’re in the face of a very serious crisis.” What do Canadians want of the Liberals in such troubling times? According to Ignatieff, it’s to “lift our game” and “make Parliament work.”

Later he told reporters here the party needs to go back to basics. “To make a scapegoat of [Dion] seems to me a little easy,” he said. “We have to go back and look at every piece of the mighty Liberal machine.”

UPDATE: Ignatieff spoke

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