Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Michael Ignatieff, MP.

Even if polling predicted the outcome well ahead of time, the victory of Stephen Harper's Conservatives in Monday's Canadian federal election still caught me by surprise. If experience was any guide, I thought, just enough voters would swing to Paul Martin's Liberals at the last minute to keep the Grits in power. Some media voices have been speculating about 'Canada's turn to the right,' but I suspect the Conservative win is more a reflection of public anger over the sponsorship scandal and other recent controversies than a vote of confidence in the party's platform. As the head of a fragile minority government, Harper will have to play his cards very carefully and avoid the kind of dramatic changes in government policy that many in his party would undoubtedly like to see. At least that's my take on the situation; Canadian readers who take issue with what I've written should feel free to correct me.

One of the more interesting stories to come out of this election is the political baptism of Michael Ignatieff. A prolific author and public intellectual who has made notable contributions to contemporary debates about human rights, Ignatieff returned home to Toronto late last year after almost three decades living in England and the United States and promptly became a Liberal candidate for Parliament. A star candidate in a Liberal-leaning riding, Ignatieff nonetheless faced a bruising campaign. Some grassroots Liberals in Ignatieff's riding resented the arrival of a political neophyte who'd lived outside Canada for many years and had tenuous local roots; the same politicos were upset that the Liberal party brass had pushed Ignatieff's candidacy at the expense of other potential contenders who had labored in the trenches for years and wanted a run at the seat. Ignatieff's published writings were unsurprisingly subjected to close scrutiny and criticism, as were public statements that suggested the candidate had his eye on the Liberal leadership and the Prime Minister's office. Despite all the controversy surrounding his candidacy, Ignatieff won comfortably on Monday and will soon take his seat in the Canadian House of Commons. Ignatieff's past accomplishments suggest that he has the potential to do great good in public life. It remains to be seen whether he can ascend to the heights some believe he could reach, but I'm sure he'll keep things interesting. Just watch him. AMDG.


At February 01, 2006 6:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignatieff is a godsend for Canada. Tough, bright, visionary, fresh, progressive and, above all, charimatically articulate. This is the real thing.


Post a Comment

<< Home