By the standards set by Stéphane Dion's meandering farewell address Friday night, Michael Ignatieff passed the test of his formal acceptance speech yesterday with flying colours. But by those of an accomplished political animal such as Jean Chrétien – who delivered the only real barnburner of the convention this weekend – he still has some way to go before he hits a ball out of the park with a speech that truly defines his leadership.
By default as much as by design, Ignatieff's keynote address was deemed to be the high point of an otherwise uneventful convention. Rarely have so many members of a federal party come together to do so little as the 3,000 Liberals who gathered in Vancouver this weekend.
In style, Ignatieff certainly rose to the occasion, but in substance, he might as well have served up a cardboard cake lathered in sticky icing.
Those who were looking for Ignatieff to use his speech to give definition to his leadership will have to wait some more. Yesterday's speech was as short on specifics as it was long on lofty rhetoric, much of it increasingly familiar.
The address included a fiery attack on Stephen Harper and what Ignatieff describes as his divisive approach to Canada. But one would parse the eight-page text in vain for any hint of whether the Liberals are even considering cutting off the lifeline they have extended to the minority Conservative government since the House of Commons reopened in January.