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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff interacts with student Payton Kelly before reading a book to a pre-kindergarten class, at an early childhood learning centre in Ottawa on October 20, 2009.

BLAIR GABLE

Was it only two weeks ago that we were reading this news report?

"Michael Ignatieff is preparing to embark on a politically risky 'adult conversation' with Canadians about the painful measures necessary to eliminate the country's ballooning deficit - including the possibility of tax hikes."

True, Mr. Ignatieff quickly disavowed the anonymice (described in the article as 'party insiders') who had fed the news to CP's Joan Bryden, a reporter with impeccable Liberal sources.

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Still, who would have thunk that, in less than a fortnight, Mr. Ignatieff's 'adult conversation' would take him to a daycare centre of all places - a visit, we're told, that "ended in a spontaneous group hug from the pre-schoolers?" Or that he'd show up on this day not as a deficit slayer but transmogrified into a proponent of a national daycare program - albeit with flexible timing, given the country's fiscal situation. Of course, the final word on that gambit goes to New Democrats, who observed that the Liberals have been promising such a program for more than two decades.

The lesson from all this for Mr. Ignatieff?

Be yourself. Propose what you truly think will make Canada a better country. Above all, beware of the lobbyists, ad men and other 'party insiders' whose last consideration is the country's real needs and whose entire focus is on strategy, tactics, branding and positioning as their route to power.



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