Thursday, March 23, 2006

The Race for Stornoway: Michael Ignatieff



"Trudeau went from Philosopher King to Mackenzie King in less than 24 hours."
-Larry Zolf

Age: 58

Background: Ignatieff was born May 12th, 1947, in Toronto. With more degrees to his name than I have room to list here, Ignatieff is certainly well educated and was named one of the “100 smartest people alive” last year (tragically, Belinda came in at 102, just missing the cut-off). After a brief teaching stint at UBC, he went off to Cambridge 25 years ago, before settling down at Harvard. He’s a world renowned author, specializing on nationalism.

Political History: Ignatieff’s name has been tossed around for leadership, and politics for that matter, for less than a year. After Peter C. Newman hyped him up last January, Ignatieff spoke at the Liberal Biennial convention last March. He ran, and won, in Etobicoke Lakeshore, in a controversy filled campaign which has no doubt dulled his star power somewhat.

Rejected Campaign Slogan: “So this is what Canada looks like. I’ve heard so many good things about the place!”

Rejected Endorsement: Guantanamo Bay

Pros: Is seen by many as the reincarnation of Pierre Trudeau. He’s smart, bilingual, and a strong fighter for national unity and a strong central government. For a lot of Liberals, he’s the perfect person to fight Andre Boisclair in the event of a referendum.

Cons: Has been outside of the country for a quarter century. No political experience. Has drawn controversy over many of his past writings. Supported the Iraq War. Almost 60.

In Person: I’ve heard Ignatieff speak twice – at the Biennial convention and at a fundraiser this fall. You can follow the links to see my thoughts on both occasions. I'd say his speaking style and ability is very similar to Dalton McGuinty's.

My Take: I like Michael Ignatieff and it wouldn't at all surprise me to be voting for him on a final ballot, depending how things go at the convention. We need more people like him in politics and I think it’s shameful the way he was vilified this campaign, and had every academic paper he’s ever written twisted around and taken out of context. The fact that a world renowned scholar wants to give something back to his country and serve in office is something which should be applauded by Canadians of all political stripes.

But it amazes me how people assume that politics is the only profession in the world where you don't need any experience. My other choice for quote at the top of this page was the Seinfeld bit where George is talking about possible jobs he could get. It goes something like this:

George: What about being a sports commentator? You know how I always make those witty comments during a game?
Jerry: You do make good comments.
Georg: So?
Jerry: Well, they generally give those jobs to ex-ballplayers and people, you know, in broadcasting.
George: [pause] Well that's really not fair.
Jerry: I know.

In any other field, you'd be laughed at if you thought you could reach the top of your profession with zero experience. Iggy had a rough ride running for a safe Liberal seat, so just imagine the kind of scrutiny he’d be under in an actual election as party leader. Michael has a lot to learn about politics and, as much as I really would like to see someone like him as party leader, he won’t learn it in a year. And as much as I respect his knowledge of international affairs and nationalism, he’s been out of Canada for 25 years so I’m not sure how up to date he is on the other issues that matter to average Canadians.

Ignatieff will bring a ton to this race. He’s got a lot of ideas to share and some of those ideas could play a huge role in policy renewal for the party. He could be a fantastic Cabinet Minister and if he were five or ten years younger, I’d call him a future party leader.

But people are chasing after Trudeau’s ghost in this party, without realizing that we’re never going to have another Trudeau. Although he’s nothing like her, Ignatieff is to this leadership race what Belinda Stronach was to the Conservative leadership race: He’s high risk, high reward, but with zero experience, the risks just outweigh the benefits.

Chances: If there is a frontrunner in this race, it’s probably Ignatieff. He’s got a strong organization, led by David Smith, and has enough appeal to draw genuine grass roots support.

56 Comments:

  • That was a very well written post. However, I can't help but think that it was missing something. If I could offer one piece of advice, I would suggest including something along the lines of..."I endorse Michael Ignatieff as party leader."...towards the end of your post. But outside of that small omission (which I imagine could be corrected with a simple edit on your part), very nicely done.

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 12:47 PM  

  • With regards to age, I don't think its a huge issue. I wouldn't want to be picking someone really advanced in years, of course, but Ignatieff looks a lot younger then he actually is. As well, given that older people are the most likely voting bloc, so I doubt they'd care about that (the erstwhile frontrunner for the Republican Presidential nomination will be 72 in 2008).

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 12:54 PM  

  • I think Canadians will have a very hard time understandinig why they should elect someone as their PM who lived outside their country for most of his adult life. He may be smart, worldly and experienced in some things, but just how is he supposed to connect on the domestic front with wheat farmers, fishers, urban Canadians facing violence in their communities, regional development, balanced budgets and tax levels etc?
    I think he has a long road to travel to prove he has what it takes. He may be able to do it, but the jury is definitely still out.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

  • Yee-haw! I'm supporting Iggy and very glad to see your post.

    Unfortunately out in BC, his supporters are left in the dark, but it's nice to hear they have a good organization out East with a great organizer. It's just too bad I heard it online before hearing it from our organizers in BC. Oh well.

    I think Iggy is great. I am a disaffected Liberal who never really participated with the Party - and to be honest, didn't even vote for the Party because Mark Marissen and his chronies have left such a sour taste in my mouth.

    Iggy has me excited. I think he'll bring a lot of much needed renewal to the Party and HOPEFULLY get rid of the mafia out here in BC.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

  • Good balanced and fair post, CG. I wouldn't agree with the conclusion, but most everything in there lays it out just right.

    As for age, I don't think that is any issue either. How old was Chretien? Reagan re-energized his party at two times Iggy's age. Besides which, he actually connects well with younger Canadians because, as a professor, he is dealing with them all the time. He relates well to them. So there may issues for him, but age isn't one of them.

    Nor is the issue of coming back to Canada after "so long". Certainly, if you've heard him tell his story, you know he has hardly been absent from Canadian politics and, while moving around the world, has overall probably spent as much time in Canada as anywhere else. (You would also certainly be aware that it is only the past few years he's been living in the US at Harvard.)

    The political experience one is an interesting issue that you've hit upon. Could he do a good job running government? People do think of politics as not needing much prior experience. Maybe because there are so many of us lawyers (i.e. people with no specific life skills to speak of!) running the place so often. But at the same time, just as much unlike other professions, prior political experience is no indication of potential competence. Martin had tons of excellent political and governing experience: didn't do him much good. Chretien had even more and many criticize him for letting the country drift because he had no vision. Harper, a career pundit/politician, has no governing experience at all so we will have to see, but with hardly no leadership experience he still managed great things to bring the conservative parties together and win an election.

    From what I hear, people were surprised at how impressive he was on the street glad-handling as a candidate. So we'll have to see about him. So I don't think it will affect his ability to get elected, but we'll see.

    Ted
    Cerberus

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 1:13 PM  

  • i've seen him speak in both large and small formats and honestly his is very good.

    he's passionate, smart, someone you feel like you've connected with. he generally comes across way better than what you expect before you hear him.

    and in terms of lacking experience or organization, it seems like he's getting some good strong backing from people who know what they are doing.

    i'm thinkin this guy is on the final ballot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 PM  

  • Re: Never another Trudeau - I don't quite know what you mean. They broke the mold after PET, no question of that, but I think that the Liberal party desperately needs some "Trudeauean" leadership. That's part of why intelligent, idea-heavy and progressive candidates like Ignatieff, Dion and Kennedy are so prominent; they're where I rest my hopes.

    To take just a single area, federalism: we need someone who will apply as much intellectual force to the issue of federalism as Trudeau did, without simply recycling Trudeau's viewpoints. So Ignatieff's civic nationalism (ala the end of Rights Revolution is something that could be a real "big idea" for the Liberal Party, a synthesis of much that we already believe and a solution to centrifugal influences in contemporary politics.

    Re: Experience I agree with Ted in that "political experience" is a pretty variable thing. In a perfect world, it would have been possible for Ignatieff to handle a cabinet portfolio for a little while; but even that would have been more symbolism than anything. Noone has experience being Prime Minister before they get the job. To me, that argument most often feels like special pleading for candidates with different resumes.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 1:44 PM  

  • Hey CG you should have included this link http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/news/opeds/2004/ignatieff_less_evils_nytm_050204.htm

    that is the link where Mike talks about how some torture is ok, or this link http://www.globalpolicy.org/empire/terrorwar/analysis/2004/0725lesserevil.htm

    which is a criticism of that point of view, or this link

    http://www.mediabistro.com/articles/cache/a3179.asp

    Human rights are important CG, and respect for human dignity is important. I would hate to see Mike, Dubya and Blair at the Ranch

    By Blogger DonRummy, at 2:24 PM  

  • Look how much time and effort it took the Conservative Party to distance Stephen Harper away from his pro-Iraq war, war-hawk views just to achieve a frail minority government. Does the Liberal Party really want to throw a up a leader that is perceived to be just as gung-ho for the hugely unpopular war? This is not too mention the pro-torture ideals, questionable remarks about Ukraine and nomination fiasco.

    That's an awful lot of baggage (perhaps even more than Bob Rae's, because Rae's baggage wasn't nearly as unpopular as perceived support for Iraq war), and I didn't even mention the fact that he has barely lived in Canada.

    If somebody like Gerard Kennedy is Jack Layton's worst nightmare, Iggy has to be his wet dream.

    By Anonymous Thomas, at 2:29 PM  

  • Great post, calgarygrit. I think Michael Ignatieff will be the biggest surprise in this leadership race. He is probably the smartest candidate and once Canadians (and more importantly in the short term - Liberal members) see that intelligence coupled with his passion for a just and progressive Canada, we may see that wave of enthusiastic support he was robbed of at the last election.
    He may be nearly sixty, but he makes Stephen Harper look like he's a hundred and ten.

    By Blogger Ned Noodle, at 3:16 PM  

  • The "Ignatieff tortures Ukrainians in Iraq" anon crowd are implementing LBJ's famous axiom about spurious charges that can't be made to stick: Continue repeating them in blunt terms over and over again so that they have to be denied.

    Yawn.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 3:39 PM  

  • "Ignatieff is to this leadership race what Belinda Stronach was to the Conservative leadership race: He’s high risk, high reward, but with zero experience, the risks just outweigh the benefits."

    Heh.

    I highly doubt a guy like Ignatieff would appreciate being compared to an intellectual lightweight college drop-out who made a name for herself purely through nepotism.

    By Blogger Brandon, at 3:41 PM  

  • Comparing Ignatieff to Stronach in any way is ridiculous.

    Having seen him speak four times (twice academically, twice politcally), I know he has what he needs to be a successful politician.

    As for those who continue to harp on about his stance on Iraq or torture, I just don't know what to say anymore. There are thousands of extremely left wing people who support Ignatieff, people who are vehemently against Iraq and torture. Do you think we've all fallen of our rockers or something?

    Michael Ignatieff is the most promising politician this country has seen since at least Pierre Trudeau. It's time for for the rest of the country to stop looking for faults in a vein and pathetic attempt to make sure their pet Magna CEO or Education Minister gets elected. Michael Ignatieff is the best candidate we have. End of story.

    By Blogger 3ML, at 3:58 PM  

  • Suggested campaign slogan "The thinking man's Stephen Harper!"

    By Blogger Greg, at 4:12 PM  

  • I do like Ignatieff but as LPC leader? I just don't think he has the experience to handle it (which is why I lean Dion).

    Also, the old quotes will come back to haunt him, just as they have for Harper. He couldn't even run a smooth campaign in the safest of safe Liberal seats and now we want him to run a national campaign?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:32 PM  

  • Granted, this isn't so much a campaign slogan as it is something that ought to have been included in his biography (so long as Fox wouldn't have gotten upset that is)

    "He's so smart they hooked him up to a big computer to try to teach him some things, but he had so much knowledge it overloaded and then it got really hot and
    caught on fire!"

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 4:33 PM  

  • I love Ignatieff, myself. Have admired his writings since I was a high school student, when I was more on the left, and I think he is realistic enough about the world now that I am more on the right.

    Still don't think he belongs in the Liberal Party -- I'd love to have seen him as Harper's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Alas.

    If he runs for the Liberal leadership and wins, he'll be better than you guys deserve. ;-)

    By Blogger The Tiger, at 4:39 PM  

  • As far as Etobicoke-Lakeshore goes, the former MP supported Ignatieff's candidacy and the President, the one who hijacked the riding association and tried to force the MP out, after trying to sabotage Iggy's campaign went and campaigned for the Conservatives. That is all I need to know about his loyalties and why he gave Iggy a rough time over out-of-context quotations.

    Ted
    Cerberus

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 4:42 PM  

  • People keep talking about the experience/baggage trade-off in the comments section.

    So, I'm a little confused as to why anyone would want someone with zero experience but tons of baggage?

    By Anonymous Jeff, at 4:53 PM  

  • Ignatieff has been advancing liberal - and more specifically Canadian Liberal ideals for the past two decades. I call that experience; politics is not supposed to be some insular preserve of professional lifers.

    As for baggage - he supported Iraq. He did so for the best of reasons, even if, like me, you strongly opposed Iraq. That's the net sum of his purported "baggage" beyond the Karl Rove-style noise machine certain "anons" are peddling as a controversy.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 5:03 PM  

  • Sadly, the 'Ignatieff endorses torture' crowd haven't read enough of his writings to understand just how cautiously he wraps his statements around THE ETHICS of such actions.

    By Anonymous Grog, at 5:21 PM  

  • Let me put it this way: if Michael Ignatieff wins the Liberal leadership I will rejoin the party the next day. I've been a supporter of his since I first encountered his writings. The Rights Revolution, the Massey Lecture Series in 2000, was phenomenal and indicates quite clearly that Ignatieff "gets" Canada and the country's infatuation with advancing human rights in the new century. It's excellent stuff and in no way does it contradict anything in The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror.
    As many have already stated here, those who try to advance the "Ignatieff supports torture" notion have obviously never read The Lesser Evil, which concludes that torture should never been practiced by liberal democracies. Engaging in such lesser evil tactics opens the door to nihilism and sacrifices the very principles that democracies are founded upon. In this vein, he can be contrasted with Charles Krauthammer, who has argued that torture is viable only under extreme circumstances.
    Simply put, Ignatieff "gets it." He's on the pulse, and that he's only in his first term as an MP means very little to me, and should means same to anybody who wants a truly gifted intellectual advocating what many have come to identify as Canadian values.

    By Blogger RGM, at 5:37 PM  

  • Regardless of whether or not Ignatieff endorses torture or how he quantifies it (and he has said he supports sleep deprivation, hoods on prisoners and that sort of stuff), it's going to get twisted around in the media.

    Look at all of Harper's old quotes people dug up.

    And I've heard Iggy speak several times and have never found him overly compelling. Pretty meh in my opinion.

    By Anonymous JF, at 5:46 PM  

  • Ignatieff was interviewed by Don Newman on CBC a couple of days ago. He spoke about Iraq and the notion that he's been out of the country for 30 years.

    http://www.cbc.ca/clips/rm-newsworld/politics/politicspm_tue.ram


    People make it sound like he left Canada and had been living under a rock with no communications with Canada for 30 years. Iggy had been visiting and lecturing at Universities in Canada. He had made regular trips back to the country, remained in contact with people in Canada, written on issues concerning Canada, and he had been awarded honourary degrees based on his work concerning Canadian issues.

    On Iraq... His support for the war was for humanitarian reasons, not because he is close to the U.S.. If anything, he is much closer to the Iraqi people. And he made it very clear in this interview that Canada should NOT be sending troops to Iraq.

    I agree with Jason Townsend who wrote: "Ignatieff has been advancing liberal - and more specifically Canadian Liberal ideals for the past two decades. I call that experience; politics is not supposed to be some insular preserve of professional lifers."

    I have heard Ignatieff speak. He sounds more passionate about Canada than anyone who has lived in Canada all their lives. And he articulates his passion for this country and for unity more eloquently than any lifelong politicans in recent history. That's more than enough "connection" with the country for me.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:59 PM  

  • His age is absolutely irrelevant. If this is the kind of experience and education you get with older age, bring it on. I don't believe his birthday is ever going to be an issue with voters.

    By Anonymous Jason D, at 6:34 PM  

  • and as far as experiance anyone who has lived in an academic world knows how political those places are if you can survive there and thrive Ottawa = piece of cake

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:16 PM  

  • Yeah, but the Liberal leadership is a 10 year commitment, and you have to ask yourself whether or not the party wants a 68 year old leader...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:43 PM  

  • I have never heard him speak nor have I ever read one of his books (I plan to, but baby and work have even made the sports pages an unlikely daily goal!)... However, reading the clear and well-presented comments from those who have, I am certainly ready and open to see him run. He brings a different level of experience that may be exactly what the Liberal party needs -- a break from the string of lawyers we've had. These comments by 'anonymous' don't faze me at all -- I believe that Canadian journalism won't fall into the same big hole as its US counterpart did on the Kerry and McCain kneecapping by the Bushites.

    By Anonymous imspartacus, at 8:03 PM  

  • CALGARY GRIT AND FRIENDS. MAYBE A DREAM I HAD TEN DAYS AGO CAN SHED A RAY ON IGG:
    It's in some Ivy League pub between a couple of mid-50 dudes who roomed together in university. Lets call one RAY and the other IGG. I think the conversation went like this.
    IGG: Bob, who cares that you were NDP premier. Those Liberals are sick puppies. No one wants to lead them. You run and get the Left wing (Red Liberals) Liberals to support you. I will run and get the Right wing (Blue Liberals) Liberals to support me. Then at the Leadership Convention we will flip a coin. O.K.
    RAY: Mike, O.K. I will be the heavy. I will bash Brison and Stronach and other Blue Liberals for you. Will you bash Dryden and Kennedy for me?
    IGG: Those Liberals will not know what hit them. Hay, did you know that there has been a Yale graduate in the White House (either as President or VP) from 1980 to today. Those Yaleees had both Bush and Kerry in 2004. If Hilary runs, then Yale continues to rule. To bad we did not go to Yale or we could run for President. Oh yah, I forgot, we were not born in U.S. Too bad one of our diplomat fathers were not posted in the U.S.
    RAY: It’s gonna be fun. Do you think I could get a job at Harvard afterwards? I could write a thesis.
    IGG: Bob. As long as you do not run Canada into the ground like you did Ontario as premier.
    RAY: Mike, it was not my fault. There was a recession. They named Ray Days after me. Maybe they will name some days after you.
    IGG: Hay, did you read my Wikipedia update. I don’t need Ray Days. I am a Count. Maybe we can take over Russia next.
    There have been a few attempts but no person has been able to tell me what it means.

    By Anonymous Lester, at 8:22 PM  

  • Good post.
    In my opnion,
    Bottom line on Ignatieff: too controversial and too high risk

    By Anonymous marnie l, at 9:15 PM  

  • Peter Singer defines "the left" as being those who place minimizing suffering above other moral imperatives, such as tradition or rights. According to that perspective, Ignatieff is not and never will be "left", and, indeed, Ignatieff shares with conservatives a vulnerability to charges of insensitivity to human pain.

    A reservation I have about Ignatieff is that he doesn't seem to have a background, academic or otherwise, in finance, economics, or business. The idea of a Philosopher King may sound inspirational, but it is an idea that is rather out-of-date in a modern western democracy. The functional role of political leaders in these societies is increasingly analogous to that of the large company CEO. Does Ignatieff really have any ideas about how to make the economy run more efficiently? If elections ultimately come down to competing economic visions an Ignatieff-led Liberal party may get squeezed between the NDP and the Cons.

    Ignatieff's strong central government views are going to be a tough sell in Quebec, never mind the charges that he is too close to the US or to US policy. Not that Dion, as architect of the Clarity Act, would do any better in la belle province. Also, remember that after Trudeau repatriated the Constitution in 82, the Tories rode Quebec to a landslide in 84.

    - Brian Dell

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:17 PM  

  • Yes but Trudeau too did not have much political experience, as was the case with Lester B. Pearson.

    But both of them like Michael were well versed in Political Science that does give you a degree of experience in politics.

    As for his riding, that would happen to anyone who has an angry riding assoication president who wanted the candiacy but lost it to a guy a parshooted in. So he spread rumors.

    ~Aman

    By Blogger The Liberal Times, at 9:50 PM  

  • Random, irrelvant question: Does anyone else think he kinda looks like John Kerry?

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 10:07 PM  

  • Your definition of the left (or, Dr. Singers) is not one that is generally accepted - even by utilitarians. It's the first time I've heard it, which, as a leftie who likes utilitarianism, must be bad news.

    As for the PM-as-CEO ideal - pass. A leader of the Liberal Party should always be much more than that. Economic policies are constrained by the expectations that have grown up in the public consciousness in years of Liberal hegemony - the NDP are expected to respect the need for balanced budgets, and the CPC must tread carefully in trying to sneak in neoliberalism.

    Ignatieff happens to have an excellent, Quebec-friendly model of civic nationalism that offers the opportunity for responsible non-devolutionists in both Quebec and the West to get back on board after years working with inadequate substitutes.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 10:08 PM  

  • For what it's worth, Trudeau was a very succesful Justice Minister before running. He also had 3 years as an MP.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:46 PM  

  • Well, PET had Lester Pearson win him a minority to serve in after he was headhunted. And alhough he was 3 years in, he was only made MoJ the year before he won the leadership; not exactly a Dan Goodale-style long march.

    I think Ignatieff is an unusually experienced person in ways that really matter; not just as some fluffy statement about living a broadening and enriching life; experience informs his writings and his political positions as much as erudition. I look at Rights Revolution and the like and think that noone else in the race save Stephane Dion is passionate about that kind of thing.

    I want someone that will sit down and right a book about ideas that I care about, not just use them as instruments to mobilize political power.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 11:16 PM  

  • Ignatieff is an intellectual. Nothing wrong with that but my concern is...can he easily and effectively translate intellectual discussion and ideas to relevant policies and particularly domestic policies for Canada? His intellectual interest is outward looking rather than here at home where everday issues and policies impact Canadians the most. Debate and new ideas can be very compelling and intoxicating but can this guy deliver and can he manoeuver with such little experience within our Canadian political system. This isn't the heyday of the late 1960's and never will be. Canadian society and Canadian needs are alot different today than they were then and radical shifts won't likely fly.

    By Blogger Paula, at 11:24 PM  

  • Young Liberals prez backing Scott Brison for party leadership
    (Liberal-Leadership)
    Source: The Canadian Press
    Mar 23, 2006 14:33

    By Jennifer Ditchburn

    OTTAWA (CP)_ The president of the Young Liberals of Canada is throwing his support behind MP Scott Brison for the leadership of the party.

    Richard Diamond said he met with most of the prospective candidates and decided to back the former public works minister_ and former Tory.

    ``He's always demonstrated that he's bright, capable and energetic, and I think he speaks to a generational change that is really need right now if we are to appeal to young voters,'' Diamond said.

    Diamond's support is significant because the Young Liberals make up a strong voting bloc during leadership conventions. About one-third of all delegates come from student clubs across the country.

    Diamond said he would lobby fellow young Liberals to support Brison, but his endorsement doesn't automatically signal the backing of other members.

    Former prime minister Paul Martin's team was very adept at securing the vote of young Liberals, many of whom ended up working with him on Parliament Hill. But his team was also criticized for setting up ``paper clubs'' on university campuses_ clubs that only existed to send voting delegates to the convention.

    Brison, and potential competitors Belinda Stronach and Ken Dryden will be trying to woo other young Liberals this weekend in Ottawa during the youth wing's executive meeting.

    Diamond said Brison's relatively short history with the Liberals should not be a deterrent. Brison was a Progressive Conservative MP until 2003.

    ``His vision is much more Liberal than many members of our own caucus,''
    Diamond said.

    ``In the time that he has been a member, he had demonstrated the he is a true liberal. He believes in prosperity and that should be balanced with a social conscience and a progressive social agenda.''

    Brison has yet to formally announce he is running for the leadership. To date, only businesswoman Martha Hall Findlay and MP John Godfrey have revealed their intentions.

    Liberals will choose their leader on the weekend of Dec. 2-3.

    INDEX: POLITICS
    (c) 2005 The Canadian Press

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:24 PM  

  • Iggy as leader...no thank you.

    Maybe he should try to be part of a party, let a lone party of the country before running for the big seat.

    great to have you on the liberal team...why don't you prove that you're a good MP first...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:53 PM  

  • The thing is that if one goes with Iggy, everyone is forced into a fundamental rethink of what the party stands for. With more than 100 seats in Parliament right now, one has to wonder whether such a significant overhaul is necessary.

    What if Ignatieff's world view is ultimately unworkable? The only way the Liberal party could really end up in real oblivion would be if it hitched its wagon to a Big Idea and the idea crumbled. In the Richard Posner vs Ronald Dworkin debates Ignatieff would be in Dworkin's camp and I suggest that at the end of the day that is the losing side.

    There is no national ideal that appeals across the country. Since Meech Lake and Charlottetown the lesson is to leave well enough alone. Iggy thinks people can abstract themselve out of their particulars, like being Albertan or being Quebecois. It just ain't so, and if someone tries to force the country's nose into the problem, it will backfire and as people reflect on who they are they will conclude they are not the same as the next person. If the country was ethnically homogenous, it would work. But it isn't.

    Public intellectuals splinter, politicians unite. Martin Luther split Christianity because he wanted to talk theology. Ronald Reagan united Americans because his ideas, such as they were, remained nebulous enough that consensus could be built around his likable personality.

    - Brian Dell

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:32 AM  

  • Let me put it another way: there have been US military occupations of Germany, Japan, and Iraq. The outcomes of the first two have been very different from the third. Why? Because the particulars of the three countries are different, whether it is ethnicity, religion, customs, or what have you. The Germans and Japanese were historically successful states (the problem being not their success but that they were enjoying successes at the expense of others) and there were prevailing norms tied to the particular traditions in those countries that placed a strong premium on order. Not so with Iraq. Yet Igantieff's whole philosophy is that the particulars of ethnicity, etc are exactly what we all need to move beyond. And maybe we should, but that doesn't mean it is realistic to expect so. IN THEORY, a decision to occupy Germany and a decision to occupy Iraq may be decided by the same reference to abstract principles. IN PRACTICE, one will work and the other will not.

    The neocons got themselves, and the planet, into a bitch of an unsatisfactory situation because they got too messianic. Iggy might not be cut from the same cloth but he has the same mentality with his rights crusade. Richard Posner is, in my opinion, rightly skeptical about moralizing in general. And that could be what Liberalism stands for: a postmodern humility before the grand, answer-for-everything philosophies of both the left and the right.

    - Brian Dell

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:59 AM  

  • Brian: I think you're responding to an excessively abstracted idea of Ignatieff's ideas; have you read Rights Revolution, which I'd say is most to the point on this issue?

    Ignatieff can be known as an advocate of post-nationalism and civics without being someone who wants to shatter our existing affiliations and establish a commonwealth of virtue. He's an advocate of dialogue, persuasion and debate - which may sound a bit pollyana, but remember that that also extends to political debate, constitutional wranglings, and our system of judicial arbitration of individual and group rights. Recall how often he talks about the importance of accepting the importance and value of difference.

    His point - well made - is that we have a civic national identity that has grown up in the country that we can really believe in - and not in a sectionally Liberal way. It doesn't have to be platitudinous to wax philosophical about "inclusion." In the absense of traditional vectors of national cohesion, I think it's pretty important.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 1:47 AM  

  • There is another way that the Liberal party could slide into oblivion. It could stop inspiring people.

    Personally, I think that the Liberal party doesn't have much life left as simply the party of Pearson and Trudeau. That brand can only be traded on for so long before it needs to be renewed. The possibility of renewal is what attracts me to Ignatieff. Out of all the potential candidates, he is the only one that seems to have an idea of how to reframe the Liberal party for the modern era. Invoking the ghosts (and the policies) of previous leaders tend to ring hollow in a world that has moved beyond them.

    When politics ceases to be about leading people and is reduced to the provision of services, the nation is the weaker for it. I had the opportunity to read a few journal articles that linked the rise of the neo-liberal state in Canada to the rise in support for sepratism. When the government was redefined as a service provider, and then those services were reduced, the people of Quebec began to conceive of themselves less as Canadians and more as Quebeckers. Unfortunately, trying to remedy this situation in the wrong way gave rise to the sponsorship scandal.

    Being the Prime Minister is about more than improving the economic strength of the state. Because of that, I reject the CEO arguement (also, I reject the CEO arguement because if I didn't, then Belinda would have that requisite experience that some here are so concerned with). Ignatieff has a quality about him that suggests he can find a way to move the Canadian identity forward. Whether or not he does is something else entirely (history is full of people who tried and failed). But he has the potential to be something greater than a personally popular Prime Minister (I do enjoy my alliteration).

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 1:58 AM  

  • Same as Godfrey in my calculations: Bilingual, Red and Charismatic. But not Young enough

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 AM  

  • Anyone who thinks Ignatieff is "too old" is insane. Chirac's not "too old", Reagan wasn't "too old", the Pope wasn't - well, maybe he was too old, but he was the Pope. So the Liberal leader could be 68 one day... wtf is the big deal? I'm 27 and I couldn't possibly care less. Anyone who does is being silly.

    By Anonymous Jason D, at 11:38 AM  

  • Oh my gosh, they're STILL at it.

    Not young enough?

    What are you losers, 13?

    By Anonymous Jason D, at 11:40 AM  

  • That the President of the Young Liberals has endorsed Brison is merely one more reason for me to oppose his candidacy.

    By Blogger RGM, at 1:10 PM  

  • Iggy will be at least 59 by the next election. A loss will put him between 62 and 65 for the next election. A win there will allow him to govern (assuming a majority) for 4 to 5 more years. That puts him at 69 or 70. That's old! Especially beside a family man like Harper.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:40 PM  

  • The point I am about to make is absurd. However, I take great comfort in the fact that is addressing an argument that is equally absurd.

    To those suggesting that Ignatieff is too old, the position of Prime Minister doesn't require a lot of heavy lifting (in the non-metaphorical sense) or other strenuous physical activity. It is draining and the hours are impressive, but it's not like the Prime Minister is chopping wood from sunup to sundown.

    Now to the truly absurd part. Winston Churchill was born in 1874. He first became Prime Minister in 1940. He became Prime Minister for the second time in 1951 before finally resigning in 1955.

    Some of you have already done the math for Ignatieff. I suggest that you crunch the numbers for Churchill and then move on to any other problems you have with the man.

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 4:00 PM  

  • The man here being Ignatieff, not Churchill. Churchill is the man in a great many other contexts, just not this one

    By Blogger Small Town Shyster, at 4:01 PM  

  • Young Liberals prez backing Scott Brison for party leadership
    (Liberal-Leadership)
    Source: The Canadian Press
    Mar 23, 2006 14:33

    By Jennifer Ditchburn

    OTTAWA (CP)_ The president of the Young Liberals of Canada is throwing his support behind MP Scott Brison for the leadership of the party.

    Richard Diamond said he met with most of the prospective candidates and decided to back the former public works minister_ and former Tory.

    ``He's always demonstrated that he's bright, capable and energetic, and I think he speaks to a generational change that is really need right now if we are to appeal to young voters,'' Diamond said.

    Diamond's support is significant because the Young Liberals make up a strong voting bloc during leadership conventions. About one-third of all delegates come from student clubs across the country.

    Diamond said he would lobby fellow young Liberals to support Brison, but his endorsement doesn't automatically signal the backing of other members.

    Former prime minister Paul Martin's team was very adept at securing the vote of young Liberals, many of whom ended up working with him on Parliament Hill. But his team was also criticized for setting up ``paper clubs'' on university campuses_ clubs that only existed to send voting delegates to the convention.

    Brison, and potential competitors Belinda Stronach and Ken Dryden will be trying to woo other young Liberals this weekend in Ottawa during the youth wing's executive meeting.

    Diamond said Brison's relatively short history with the Liberals should not be a deterrent. Brison was a Progressive Conservative MP until 2003.

    ``His vision is much more Liberal than many members of our own caucus,''
    Diamond said.

    ``In the time that he has been a member, he had demonstrated the he is a true liberal. He believes in prosperity and that should be balanced with a social conscience and a progressive social agenda.''

    Brison has yet to formally announce he is running for the leadership. To date, only businesswoman Martha Hall Findlay and MP John Godfrey have revealed their intentions.

    Liberals will choose their leader on the weekend of Dec. 2-3.

    INDEX: POLITICS
    (c) 2005 The Canadian Press

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:15 PM  

  • Well, I'm not anonymous. I think Ignatieff is an absolutely unacceptable candidate. Ignatieff hasn't done much to distance himself from the controversy that buzzes around him. Iggy should not ever become Liberal leader.

    By Blogger John Murney, at 12:35 AM  

  • Red Tory has an interesting bio on Ignatieff and after reading all the academic and literary achievements of Ignatieff, just made me wonder even more...what has this guy ever led and most importantly, what results for the betterment of our society, Canadian society, has he achieved?

    Being a roadside commentator doesn't qualify.

    By Blogger Paula, at 10:16 AM  

  • I might be biased given my own affection for the academic world, but I've never seen human rights scholarship as a useless field.

    Any university library will have a few of his books; and a judgement made after reading a few of them is almost certainly a fair one.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 12:06 AM  

  • I think Ignatieff is terrific. Harper wanted to go into Iraq just to support the Bush gang - Ignatieff because he saw what Hussein had done.......and that was before it was known that the WMD didn't exist.

    Trudeau didn't have any real experience in anything - he spent his time socializing and getting educated in Europe during WWII.

    So the guy got good jobs outside of Canada - he never stopped being Canadian and knows more about our politics than most of us who live here.

    His views on torture related to sleep deprevation...not real torture.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:19 PM  

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    By Blogger Kate, at 7:01 AM  

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