Tuesday, April 11, 2006

One on One with Michael Ignatieff

I was a little bit surprised when I got the e-mail from Ignatieff's people offering me a one-on-one interview with the man over the weekend at the LPCA convention. But, as I've said before, a lot of Liberal delegates read blogs and online news sites so it only makes sense to try and spread the word through them.

I went into our Sunday morning interview with about three hours of sleep so I'll apologize if the questions aren't particularity insightful or if I misinterpreted anything he said. I also resolved to ask Ignatieff questions on topics he might not have been getting elsewhere. I only had fifteen minutes and I didn't really want to waste it listening to the talking points on Iraq, or torture, or his thirty years out of the country - I'm sure everyone has heard him answer those questions at least a dozen times by now. With that in mind, here is a question by question recap of the interview.

Preliminary chit-chat
We, of course, had to discuss blogs to a certain extent. Michael himself doesn't read blogs, but his wife is apparently well versed in the blogosphere and frequently "breaks the bad news" to him about what people are saying online.

He also admitted to being "politically naive" when he announced he would run for MP at the Death by Chocolate fundraiser this fall, not expecting it to leak out before the official announcement on Friday.

Question 1: If you could choose to have a conversation with any Canadian, living or dead, who would it be?

This was the only question which seemed to stump him a bit and he seemed a tad surprised, before finally settling on Glen Gould, who he called an "authentic genius". He didn't really elaborate on why, so I'll leave it to everyone else to analyze this answer and find the hidden meaning behind it.

Question 2: You're known as an intellectual. Do you have any non-academic pastimes or hobbies? TV shows you like? Sports you watch?

I'll admit this was about as fluffy as questions get but this was something I was genuinely curious about. Iggy revealed that he is a big sports junkie and is a huge baseball fan (I'm sure this comment will be held up by his detractors as proof that he is American). His favourite teams are the Red Sox and White Sox, so it's certainly been an exciting few years for him. He also said he was a Habs fan and that Jean Beliveau (I wish he'd said Ken Dryden) was his hero growing up.

Question 3: In your vision speech, you say the following: "The federal government does not possess a monopoly in foreign affairs but it is appropriate for it to coordinate Canada's external presence to work together with provinces to ensure that Canada speaks with one voice, even if the voice that speaks for Canada comes from a province." Could you clarify what you mean by this?

Ignatieff started by saying that Harper's plan for giving Quebec their own delegation at UNESCO wouldn't even be allowed and that Harper knows it. However, he sees a role for provincial input into several foreign affairs groups. The example he used was allowing the Alberta Energy Minister to present Canada's position or to be in the delegation for international economic groups. He sees a role for this type of relationship in several fields.

Question 4: Do you support a new round of constitutional talks to get Quebec's signature on the constitution?

Iggy doesn't see the need for it right now and would like to avoid a return to Meech and Charlottetown type discussions. But, yes, in the "medium term" he would be willing to open up the constitution.

At this point, we were interrupted by a waiter who came up and said that he was shocked that he had a chance to meet "the next Prime Minister" (Ignatieff, not me). After some fawning praise on Michael, the man left and Ignatieff said that he was "stunned but touched".

Question 5: Do you worry about having to boil down complex thoughts into 15 second sound bytes during an election campaign?

He acknowledged that he needed to work at "getting it shorter" but found that voters wanted complexity on the doorstep. He feels that Canadians want tough and complex ideas so, for better or worse, that's what he intends to give them.

Question 6: You have next to zero experience in politics and yet you are running to be Prime Minister? What is it about politics that makes a lack of experience no big deal for an individual trying to reach the top?

Ignatieff replied that he had plenty of experience, being a delegate at the 1968 leadership convention thus making him the "only candidate with experience at a brokered convention" [Note: That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. I mean, just because I've eaten a Big Mac, doesn't mean I'm qualified to be CEO of McDonald's]. He also commented on his international experience, having been to Afghanistan and around the world.

He then acknowledged that no one has a perfect resume in this race and he's aware that he's "not Superman". All the candidates have limitations, but he feels he can overcome his.

Question 7: How does it feel to be the frontrunner in this race?

Ignatieff was more adamant about this question than for any of his other answers - he is NOT the frontrunner!!! He repeated this numerous times so I think it's abundantly clear that he's afraid of becoming the victim of an anybody but Ignatieff campaign. He said it will be a long race which will go to the convention floor and that it's ridiculous to call anyone the front runner in a contest like this. He also said that candidates will have to behave and that he "can't kick Gerard in the teeth" since it will all be about getting other people's support. It will be "up to the delegates, not to Craig Oliver" (I can certainly see why he used that name, after watching the interview he had with Craig Oliver on QP Sunday...).

Final Thoughts
I found Ignatieff a lot more charming in the interview than I had the day before at the debates, or during any of the previous times I'd heard him speak. I'm extremely grateful to have had the chance to give the interview and, if he does win, it will sure make a great story for me to tell over and over again until I bore my non-political friends to death with it.

That said, speaking as a Liberal delegate, rather than a blogger, he couldn't win me over to his leadership camp. Despite all the comparisons to Trudeau and all the talk about "vision" among his supporters, I just haven't seen or heard any single compelling reason to support the guy. And I certainly haven't seen anything to make up for the lack of experience or the fact that he checked into the Sutton with so much political baggage that it would take a dozen bellhops to carry it. Still, I'm glad he's a Liberal and I wish him the best of luck in this leadership race. It's nice to see accomplished individuals like Ignatieff and Dryden running for public office.


  • Congrats on landing the interview. Even with the little sleep, I would say it was a very good interview.

    By Blogger Coach Aaron, at 2:12 p.m.  

  • I hope Joe Volpe's people follow the lead of Iggy and let you have 15 minutes with him.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:17 p.m.  

  • Yeah, I enjoyed the non academic question. As an iggy supporter I'd like to thank-you for being so gracious in your non support of Iggy...It's nice to see that you're not resorting to calling him a republican or a torture supporter.

    Only problem is, don't you know as a blogger you're supposed to be irrationally bias and illogical??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:18 p.m.  

  • Good interview (despite your sleep deprivation).

    When you mentioned the waiter’s comments I couldn’t help but think of the scene in “Capote” when the train porter effusively praises his latest book. After he leaves the cabin, Harper Lee turns to Capote and accuses him of having paid him to say that. “How did you know?” he asks.

    By Blogger Red Tory, at 2:39 p.m.  

  • The best strategy for anyone in this race is to be the consensus candidate. Michael isn't the only one afraid of being portrayed as the leader.

    If you're looking for a reason to support Ignatieff despite his lack of experience, I've got one for you.

    His lack of experience.

    He is a thinker, and a communicator. Not a career politician. He is more concerned about his ideas being right than he is about his ideas winning.

    Given the popularity of career politicians, CG, I don't understand why you want one as leader.

    He has weaknesses, yeah. Weaknesses that make it harder for him to get elected. But the things that make it harder for him to get elected are the same things that would make him an excellent PM if he won.

    The opportunity exists to help a person overcome their weaknesses to win election. The opportunity does not usually exist to help a person overcome their weaknesses to govern.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 2:41 p.m.  

  • Gaunlet, isn't there some sort of median between "career politician" and no experience in politics becoming the Prime Minister....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:10 p.m.  

  • I think you're my favourite blogger CG, and not just because I'm from the province next to yours. Great interview. Glenn Gould eh? Hmmmm

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:13 p.m.  

  • Gauntlet, you're kidding yourself if you think he left his prominent position in academia to "get his ideas out" in the leadership race. He's in it to win just like everybody else.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:14 p.m.  

  • Nice coup for blogging, CG.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 3:32 p.m.  

  • Second prize is 30 minutes with Volpe.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:50 p.m.  

  • He is more concerned about his ideas being right than he is about his ideas winning.

    I'd kind of like to see the Liberals win an election...

    And, as much as I do like Iggy (don't get me wrong, he's in my top 3 or 4), I haven't really seen what's so special about his ideas. If someone could show me 3 big ideas he has that other candidates won't also do, I'd definitely consider the guy.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:50 p.m.  

  • CG, you were my favourite blog before and that has been reaffirmed with this interview. I am an Iggy supporter and have been from the beginning and perhaps one day you will be too (after all it is a long campaign).

    That said, despite your hesitation to support his run for leadership, you remained objective before the interview and during it. There are many blogs out there, but few that demonstrate as much integrity and balance (which is probably why you were granted the interview). Keep up the great work.

    Oh yeah, in updating your candidate list you may want to put a link to Michael's leadership site:

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:03 p.m.  

  • When people talk about his lack of general experience, I think another serious concern would be lack of managing experience. Controlling a caucus of 101 (and hopefully more once we get a majority) is hardly a minor annoyance nor is it something that you can not pick up in a text book.

    I am hoping that some Mr. Ignatieff’s supporters can inform us all of what he has done to manage groups or organizations.

    I believe we are not just looking for a leader with idea’s that we can agree with, we are looking for a leader that can help us implement those dreams.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:09 p.m.  

  • I heart iggy

    long live iggy

    iggy is king

    king of all men

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:33 p.m.  

  • Excellent work, CG.

    Tres kudos to you. Yet another reason why I come to you second only to Mike Duffy for my 'tics.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:03 p.m.  

  • Nice Interview!

    Good thing you were nice to him or else you might have been forced to stand in stress positions and have your nipples clamped as Ignatieff lectured on how what he was doing was not really torture.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:17 p.m.  

  • CG,

    It's great to see that you are supporting Ignatieff for leader.

    ;) ;)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:19 p.m.  

  • Some people still seem to think that Ignatieff is in favour of at least some torture some of the time...

    Read his essay which was in the T'ronna Star last week!!

    After exploring the various philosophical arguments for and against torture, Ignatieff discards them ALL - e.g. "I do not see any trumping argument on behalf of the rights and dignity of security detainees that makes their claims prevail over the security interests (and human right to life) of the majority. "

    Taken by itself that statement might seem to say Iggy is in favour of torture - at least under certain circumstances.

    But don't forget: this was not a Q&A talk. This was taken from a philosophical essay entitled "Torture: Does it Make Us Safer? Is it Ever OK?." It is not an article that can be quickly skimmed like a newspaper column!!

    Read on....

    "....democracies limit the powers that governments can justly exercise over the human beings under their power, and ... these limits include an absolute ban on subjecting individuals to forms of pain that strip them of their dignity, identity and even sanity."

    See that, folks? "Absolute ban"!

    His conclusion: "We cannot torture, in other words, because of who we are. "

    He won ME over right there!! No prevarication, no mealy mouthed hiding of agendas - it is straight talk.

    By Blogger Penelope Persons, at 5:53 p.m.  

  • CG,

    Your interview was awesome. Great post and certainly a good amount of thought put into it. I'm so glad our party has level headed people like you talking about some regular issues. I am also tired of the 'torture' talk and am glad you chose interesting questions.

    I hope you get more interviews with candidates. This is great stuff. I love Paul Well's suggestion about Volpe. Where's Toronto Liberal's angry reply about how Volpe is going to rule this land from coast to coast?

    By Blogger Forward Looking Canadian, at 7:00 p.m.  

  • Great interview CG!

    I'm sure that years from now, you will recall those 15 minutes you spent with the future Prime Minister of Canada, and if Iggy lives long enough, he may actually recall the time he sat down with yet another future Prime Minister as well.

    Many of my friends have told me that they are concerned with Iggy's lack of parliamentary experience. All I can say is that I wish they could've seen his maiden House speech. For God's sake, he seemed like he's lived in those chambers for 20 years. The Conservatives obviously give him too much respect to actually heckle him, and you should have seen the NDP blush when he scolded them for their apparent lack of resolve to continue the fight in Afgahanistan. A brillian statesman in the making!

    He's SOOOO the frontrunner; he's going to front-run right over the other candidates.

    In my opinion, it's over but the shouting.

    Oh, and you're going to have to write a book someday CG. A big fat account of the unlikely climb of Michael Ignatieff. BTW, when that time comes, I would be happy to provide a Foreword.



    By Blogger Senator Catalyst, at 8:10 p.m.  

  • It's pretty clear that Senator Catalyst did not get the memo about Iggy not trying to sell himself as the front runner...

    I guess we might as well cancel the leadership cause Ignatieff has come from abroad to rescue the Liberal Party with his mighty big brain.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:57 p.m.  

  • "He is more concerned about his ideas being right than he is about his ideas winning."


    Iggy is always trying to say what people want to hear.

    My sense is that this quote would apply much more aptly to Stephane Dion, the man with the most federal political experience in this race (not Iggy ...)

    As a political person, I do not like it when politicians or their supporters slam people with political experience, if it is somehow dirty. I happen to still think it is a noble profession.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:50 p.m.  

  • an elaborate kickback scheme...a culture of entitlement. - Justice John Gomery

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 p.m.  

  • The guy is soooo American ... the Red Sox and the White Sox???? C'mon ... what about the Blue Jays??

    Iggy spent the last 30 YEARS in the USA ... now he wants to lead Canada? Let's get real.

    To lead a people, one must walk amongst them.

    While we were walking, Iggy was at a Red Sox game.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:39 p.m.  

  • Can someone get working on an Any One But Ignatieff blog?

    Him and his smug suporters are getting more annoying with every day.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:48 p.m.  

  • "If someone could show me 3 big ideas he has that other candidates won't also do, I'd definitely consider the guy."

    Who cares. He's a D-E-E-P T-H-I-N-K-E-R and thats all that matters.

    I wonder how one goes about thinking D-E-E-P.

    Maybe it all starts with putting your hands together in a prayer like manner. Yea, thats it.

    Horny toad

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:53 p.m.  

  • He has not lived in the US for the last 30 years...check your 'facts'.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:02 a.m.  

  • That's true...bringing up that accusation is unfair. He has always returned to Canada.

    How can we criticize this man for teaching at Harvard. Are we to turn to our children at say, "of course you can go to Harvard to complete your Ph.D, but your fellow countrymen will look down on you."

    Iggy was in England working for the BBC, in Iraq living with the Kurds, teaching at the best university's in the world. He wasn't exactly living outside the country working at a bank or something. The man is one of us, he is Canadian.

    I'm not necessarily an Iggy supporter, but I think we should be fair to the guy

    By Blogger Zac, at 12:48 a.m.  

  • You can be a Canadian and live outside of Canada. However, when you want to be prime minister it is more credible to have years of day to day living in Canada so that you understand what the issues are from a living in Canada perspective. It also helps to have experience as a Canadian politician and experience running an organization, department, ministry etc. in Canada. Iggy fans may not like hearing this but it is not just Liberals that will raise the concern about his absence from Canada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 a.m.  

  • The White Sox Red Sox thing and "what about the Blue Jays" is a load of garbage. Pure and simple. I'm a Minnesota fan through and through. I've lived in Canada my whole life (your qualifier), are you going to tell me I'm not Canadian? I know plently of people with the same mindset. If my having lived here gives me the pass then why is it relevant with Ignatieff? Its not. You do not have to root for your local team. That is not a condition of citizenship. I'm not against doing so (I do with other sports), and those that go against it for the sake of doing so are equally annoying, but come on, we're free to like who we like, there's more to it than that. This is where the one of us not one of us business descends into ridiculousness.

    By Blogger Steve, at 1:59 a.m.  

  • Good God Catalyst...the f*^king ego you must have...

    -you claim Iggy will be PM not even a week into the race

    -you offer to write the forward to a book, when usally it's someone with some talent and creditenals who does it

    Gaah get over yourself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:32 a.m.  

  • Penny: "He won ME over right there!!" I hope to all goodness that the merit by which you judge candidates is not whether or not they support torture. Frankly, I think that issue should be discarded. It was Ignatieff expressing his views as a private citizen, regardless of whether he supports the act or not [for the record, I believe he opposes it without exception and without reservation] the party and the people of this country will bind our government to its obligations under the Geneva convention.

    Iggy will put forth lots of policy and lots of ideas about how to bring about party renewal. Everyone else will too. Make sure you judge him and the other candidates on the merits of those policies, especially the ones relative to the living standards of Canadians, and not what has been a largely insignificant preliminary debate.

    By Blogger andrewridgeley, at 3:13 a.m.  

  • Zac: Calling out Ignatieff on his absence from the country, unlike torture or Iraq (which are stupid, odious accusations), is wholly legitimate. I had a conversation this evening with a wonderful gentleman who is a diplomat in Ottawa and returned to Canada this past year from several in Geneva. I came back to Canada recently after a hefty stint in the United States. We, together, conceded that, even to this day, we are not yet entirely acclamated to our native society, nor do we have a fully comprehensive understanding of Canadian modernity. This is nothing against us, it's not faulty, but it does have a great bearing on our ability to understand and relate to our fellow countrymen. I, and he, agreed that we place certain times in an entirely different cultural and historical context than most Canadians do. That's because we weren't at home experiencing the world or Canada through a Canadian lens.

    You learn about a place by being there. That's how you gain knowledge of its workings. Ignatieff will tell you this himself. In his research, he went to Iraq and Afghanistan, Russia and the Ukraine to gain the slightest information regarding places he was writing about. I know for fact that Ignatieff isn't being perfectly truthful when he claims he has fully apprehended the reality of contemporary Canadian society and identity. He just doesn't and he knows it. He's far too intelligent not to. I know this because I'm where he is. It's nothing to be held against him in everyday life.

    However, if he is to be a Prime Minister and an advocate for our people, the highest of all our domestic and international agents, they have a right to call into question how effective he will be at representing them. Ignatieff does not have a proper contextual understanding of the Canadian modernity of the last 30 years [with the exception of the last three months]. I don't have a proper understanding of the Canadian modernity of the fifteen prior to 2005.

    This is a weakness. Every candidate has them. Just because he has it doesn't mean you shouldn't support him, but you're smart enough to know that you shouldn't just dismiss it.

    By Blogger andrewridgeley, at 3:44 a.m.  

  • Great interview, CG! It reaffirms my belief that if you talk to a politician one-on-one, you get to see a human side that often never comes across in MSM. It doesn't necessarily mean you agree with them, but chances are you will connect at some level.

    By Blogger Joanne (True Blue), at 8:00 a.m.  

  • Good questions, CG, I knew that there was something beyond the politics and the intellect that I liked about Ignatieff, and your interview helped shed that light: he's a Habs fan!!
    Even though I'm no longer a Liberal, I checked out a "community" meeting last night here in Halifax that Ignatieff was apparently going to be at. I didn't stay the entire time because I had to finish a term paper, and thus I don't know if he did appear or not, but many of his supporters there reaffirmed a lot of my own thoughts that he definitely has the talent and the ability to win this race. He brings a lot to the table and is someone who is 'clean' from all of the Martin-Chretien stuff that has divided the party for so long. Even at the age of 58, he's a relatively fresh face in the party who doesn't have a lot of the old Liberal baggage that people can be attacked with. That said, I'm not sure that "sorry, I was at Harvard at the time" would be a good recusal from accusations like Adscam et al.
    The Ignatieff stuff aside, I still have deep reservations about the mentality of the Liberal Party. In the hour+ that I was at the meet-up, there was the usual few minutes of Bush-bashing, chest-thumping on Kyoto and people wondering why nobody brought up Harper's anti-Kyoto position during the election, and a general feeling that a return to majority government is right around the corner. There were some who acknowledged the "penalty box" and the bad Liberal record on Kyoto, but it's deeply overshadowed by people talking about being the natural governing party and how we Canadians are soooo much better than the Americans.

    By Blogger RGM, at 8:37 a.m.  

  • Are you trying to take Leah MacLearan's job in the Globe's fashion section?

    By Blogger S.K., at 8:58 a.m.  

  • P.S. he might have had to check his notes when you mentioned the constitution. Meech and Charlottetown nice words to throw around, because he wasn't here for either of them. I'm sure his handlers have given him a synopsis though.

    By Blogger S.K., at 9:05 a.m.  

  • I take it, s.b., that you elected not to go for the reading we'd discussed? His views on Canadian constitutional affairs aren't based on Canadian History for Dummies.

    Richard: About your reservations: The only one who brought up Kyoto in that sense and mentioned the phrase "natural governing party" was me, in Halifax; and the latter was in a sarcastic sense, unless you meant in the chit-chat phase earlier.

    Maybe I just had different smalltalk - or were we speaking? - but I didn't get quite the "oblivious Liberal optimism" vibe.
    I am a bit of an odd duck in thinking that A: Kyoto ain't so bad, B: We ought to honestly try to make our targets even if it hurts and C: The CPC position is evil and we should somehow get that message out even if we are hypocrites. But, if you were there for that, you must have noted that two people jumped on me for it, arguing that the LPC has nothing to say about meeting Kyoto targets - hardly seems like Liberal triumphalism.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 10:12 a.m.  

  • Three Iggy views all Canadian's should look into before the next election:

    1. National Unity
    2. Immigration integration
    3. Role of Canadian citizens aboard and internationally.

    I shouldn't have to explain them to you, I'm not his spokesperson. You should all research his thoughts on these topics through his speeches and literature. Then you'll see why we're lucky to have him as a candidate.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 a.m.  

  • I am not an Ignatieff supporter or booster.

    That said - Canada is a minor country. England and the USA are major countries. If a person wants to make more out of their lives than they can here, in a minor country, by leaving to major countries, where excellence beyond what Canada offers is achieved, and then wishes to return home with gained experience and accomplishment impossible within our own borders - why is that a problem?

    It's not like he's been in outer space out of touch for all those years - he was for the most part in our closest neighbour and the country we base our parliamentary system on. He was in the West, which we're a part of. He was a Canadian in all that time, with frequent returns - hardly an expatriate. Between George W. Bush never leaving the country at all, and Michael Ignatieff's world citizenship, I'll take Ignatieff's globetrotting.

    Considering that Ignatieff may wind up being PM, I'm glad that he's distinguished himself with such a tremendous career, and if choosing between him and the dean of U of T or McGill or SFU, I'd take Ignatieff.

    Ignatieff is a bigger and better person for having left Canada. I'm frankly flattered he's coming home.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:10 a.m.  

  • I heard him speak about national unity during the last election. If the PQ win in the Quebec race in 2007, and Andre Boisclair is elected Premier, we had better hope that Ignatieff is in the Prime Minister's seat. With all due respect to the candidates, even Dion, he's the only one with the arguments to win over Canadian hearts about this issue.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:13 a.m.  


    As an avid environmentalist who only bikes everywhere and only flushes my toilet once a day, who only uses non-petroleum laundry detergent and showers every three days, I think Kyoto blows and won't help the planet at all. Kyoto is a fool's game to help people feel better about the problem, a sugar placebo to give everyone a false reason to pat themselves on the back and feel, like, awesome about themselves. They shouldn't feel awesome at all, they should feel like self-deluded hypocrites.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:16 a.m.  

  • iggy is deceptively neocon, whose intelligence
    is often employed in equivocating on well established
    liberal achievements, such as the Geneva Conventions.
    liberals would rue the day they went for him, for
    he designed the whole career, ever since upper
    canada college and affections for czarism, in the
    service of his own ego... the american liberals
    view him as a judas, because he became george w. bush's
    advocate...Herr Iggy would be a disaster in spades.
    he's even talked about tanks and guns against sovereignty
    in quebec...again, that's not liberal, but statist...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 a.m.  

  • I missed the Craig Oliver interview on Question Period. So what was it that made Ignatieff mentioned his name? Is there a link to that interview?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:52 a.m.  

  • Penny: Yeah, I imagine many people here read the Toronto Star reprint of the Prospect article.

    Did you read the counterpoint piece where a human rights expert, Caspar Melville, tore Ignatieff a new one for his mealy-mouthed apologies for torture?

    If you had, you might have caught this:

    Though he is happy to name and engage with writers who argue for the legitimacy of "coercive interrogations" under certain conditions — people like federal U.S. Judge Richard Posner, Jean Bethke Elshtain and Alan Dershowitz, in whose company Ignatieff is the liberal — he neglects to name any of those on the other side, collapsing them into the anonymous category of "human-rights activist," as if they were of no more account than bit parts in a radio play, performed by "members of the cast."

    What the phrase "human-rights activist," used four times, occludes is that these people, the group who do not agree with Ignatieff, include some of his most prominent former colleagues, such as Aguirre, Ronald Steel, professor of International Relations at the University of Southern California, and Conor Gearty, Rausing director of the Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the London School of Economics, each of whom have published stinging critiques of Ignatieff in the past 16 months.
    If Ignatieff was an authority on human rights before, it appears that he is no longer.

    More Casper:

    Ignatieff's "and yet and yet" argument is still controversial, still arguably preparing the way for the legitimized use of torture. Despite the apparently firm position against torture, his conclusions are so consciously limp ("we cannot torture... because of who we are. This is the best I can do") as to argue their opposite. They suggest, at best, a lack of conviction and, at worst, an underhand, quasi-patrician duplicity.What more is there to say, really?

    Warren's right-this guy is Jack Layton's wet dream. At least Layton appears to have the courage of his convictions. "Iggy" is just yet another Tom Friedman: a "liberal hawk" afraid to be seen as out of touch on the Washington cocktail party circuit, but well aware that torture is prima facae indefensible. Americans are going through hell in Iraq because of these cowards' enabling of Republican nonsense. Why on earth should Liberals choose one of them as leader?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:02 p.m.  

  • Oh, and one other thing... is there anybody here who isn't aware that "toronto liberal" is an obvious plant? I'm not a Volpe supporter, but c'mon- a bright eight-grader could pick up on that.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:04 p.m.  

  • "Good God Catalyst...the f*^king ego you must have.... You claim Iggy will be PM not even a week into the race; you offer to write the forward to a book, when usally it's someone with some talent and creditenals who does it. Gaah get over yourself."


    Yeah, I got the memo, it's just really hard to play dark when your candidate is about eight calibres above the the rest of the pack.

    Let's take a look, shall we.

    Gerard Kennedy - a fuzzy, covert pro-life provincial politician. Now, I don't personally have anything against a person who choses to be pro-life (my brother is pro-life and we still love each other even though I am an "abortion facilitator") but people, THIS IS NO LONGER AN ACCEPTABLE STANCE FOR A POTENTIAL LIBERAL PARTY LEADER. No wonder his team is keeping it quiet, their probably all wondering how they were so easily fooled by that sexy curiculum vitae.

    Dion is another little cuttie, but he struggles with english... and there are still a bunch of us (Canadians that is) who continue to speak english as a first language. Oh, and I'm not so sure he's the biggest environmentalist since Al Gore either. It only happens to have been his last job, and he got paid, well. I never saw him put on a gas mask and join any group of protestors or any such thing. Iggy on the other hand has lived his work, in Afghanistan and throughout the rights-less world.

    Scott Brison is a good man that I am hesitant to roast. But here goes. For one thing, he's got an RCMP file with his name on it. That's a bruser. He's also an extravagent, self-indulgent politician of the talking variety. He has great style, but I'm sure even the biggest Ignatieff detractors would admit that style falls way down on the list of criteria for a PM.

    I might have missed one or two, but those appear to be Michael's biggest challengers. To their credit they have all assembled incredible teams, people who will work tirelessly to win the leadership/collectively defeat Michael. But in the end, the people who are really about fixing this party, will realise that there is only one candidate who will be able to do it. Call it ego if you must, but its the honest truth.

    As for that foreword, talent or no, I'm writting it. And you'll all be happy to know that I am reviving the Catalytic Corral in order to fully document this historic process. My first new post will have the full transcript of MI's maiden House speech.

    Every one who thinks I'm a total asshole shouldn't let it get in the way of seeing this man for the leader he is. I've been following this campaign for a while, and I am the only asshole I've met yet.

    By Blogger Senator Catalyst, at 1:49 p.m.  

  • Can somebody confirm that Paul Zed is supporting Michael Ignatieff?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:41 p.m.  

  • I've been informed by people working with Kennedy that he is not in fact Pro Life. Sorry about that.

    By Blogger Senator Catalyst, at 5:22 p.m.  

  • The rumour is that Zed is with Ignatieff - he may even have been at the launch.

    I also imagine Dhalla, Fontana, and McCallum will soon announce that they aren't running and will back someone else.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:26 p.m.  

  • Thanks for that. Too bad, Iggy would be my last choice.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:40 p.m.  

  • The anonymous trash talk on this comment thread is depressing. Those among you who are actually Liberals might want to think about the consequences of allowing trollers to turn Liberals towards the lowest discourses of fratricidal infighting.

    Jason D: Did I ever say to "place all faith in Kyoto" or somesuch? It isn't even functioning as it was designed, and even if it were it would be a very loopholed regime - no kidding? For true?

    The fact is, until there is a better option, I support Kyoto. I think that getting a real system of green-credits and carbon-debits in place would do infinitely more for conservation than NDP/Green pieties that never face the realities of implementation.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 7:53 p.m.  

  • Jason Townsend, I never claimed that you advised "placing all faith in Kyoto". You expressed support for it, and it's a fundamentally flawed and stupid idea that won't work. Rather than lip servicing a false premise that can't help, we should all be looking for better solutions.

    The former Liberal government's plan to start investing in wind power was a better step than Kyoto will achieve. My father is now looking at placing 3 or more wind towers on our home farm - so long as the government tests for wind capacity work out. He would have laughed at the idea a short while ago, but now he's extremely interested, and wholeheartedly pursuing it.

    The federal government can make a big difference by legislating more support for and investment in renewable energies - more than it can with your balloons and whistles for Kyoto.

    (Some) municipal governments are slowly starting to make real differences by installing water meters on new or renovated homes - meters which drastically reduce a family or person's water usage when they see where their money is going.

    Pay-as-you-go hydro meters in, I believe, Woodstock Ontario are making big, significant changes in how homes use electricity.

    Kyoto supporters do not support the environment - they support patting themselves on the back for doing nothing whatsoever.

    You're being intellectually dishonest to suggest I support NDP/Green "pieties that will never face realities".

    I support MORE of the reality that's already slowly starting to happen, oblivious to a useless "environmental" treaty that won't work. I support changes that ought to have happened decades ago - but I'm really glad to see them finally happening. I have some real hope for the future, but Kyoto isn't it - and neither are back patting lip synchers like you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:35 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 9:09 p.m.  

  • Jason D. : I respect the value of your efforts and the efforts of those like you on the local and municipal level; I think more of them are necessary, but also more on provincial and federal levels, and as many international agreements as we can get, as far as we can enforce them.

    I don't think Kyoto has a 'placebo' effect because its importance as an issue is pretty much restricted to people who already know it has loopholes, isn't binding, and isn't adequate. However, at the moment, the international opinions are inadequate and nothing, and given that choice I'll take inadequate. If some of the signatories meet their targets and sell carbon quotas to other signators, and if industries within signatory countries face additional costs for polluting, than several useful things will have been accomplished - the addition of costs to pollution and the addition of economic credit to ecological protection.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 10:14 p.m.  

  • Great work CG. A pleasure to read as usual. Michael Ignatieff is certainly a great candidate to interview. Take care.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:37 a.m.  

  • Paul Zed was present at Ignatieff's launch and was thanked by the candidate in his speech. Zed still keeps hinting that he might run himself, oddly enough.

    By Blogger andrewridgeley, at 12:37 a.m.  

  • None of the questions asked in that interview addressed Mr. Ignatieff's abscence from the country for the last three decades, his support for the iraq war and possible support for coercive interogation measures in it. It barely touched on his lack of government experience. Apparently he thinks his most important political experience came almost 40 years ago.

    We should hope that these things get pointed out and people go with Dion (or even Rae, though he has some issues too). I'm worried that liberals will play too nice-nice, Iggy ets in and Harper tears him a new one in the next election.

    This doesn't seem like rocket science - Basically: (Dont like living in Canada + support for iraq war + apparent support for torture + zero experience + age 60 at next election) = zero credibility & Big, big, big, big loss in 2007 or 2008 general election. Its like an educated Stockwell Day, except he actually did have gvernment experience.

    Mr Harper must be drooling over the potential to go against Ignatieff.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:19 p.m.  

  • I attended a meeting the other night with Michael Ignatieff as the moderator for the Q and A's. The Minister of Environment for Ontario was also in attendance but spoke and then she left quietly(she currently has two kids twins age 6 months old). When someone from the audience asked where the MPP and Minister of the Environment was Mr. Ignatieff indicated that she had to leave for, "Domestic Duties". At that point I reacted in my mind. Was Mr. Ignatieff a Chauvinist or an insensitive person? I'm not sure but correct me if I am wrong? If the Minster in attendance had been a man would Mr. Ignatieff have said that the male Minister left to attend to Domestic Duties. I think not. This attitude has me worried! I hope if he intends to become the Leader of the Liberal Party he changes his attitude toward gender roles. I was currently leaning toward Kennedy. Was going to give Michael a second look and that's why I attended this meeting the other night. As a women I was shocked. So much for my second look...

    By Blogger etobicokelakeshoregal, at 3:19 a.m.  

  • It is either extremely courageous or excessively arrogant to return home after thirty years abroad solely for the purpose of running for office. I'm going with the latter because only a truly arrogant individual would decide that they are qualified to be PM after living in the country less than six months. And he was a delegate to a leadership convention almost forty years ago?! THAT'S what he's calling experience?!
    I feel bad for the LPC. The leadership pool is getting shallower everyday.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:38 a.m.  

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