Monday, June 19, 2006

Opinion: Why Ignatieff Should Not be Liberal Leader

Michael Ignatieff is one of the ten people running for the Liberal leadership and one of the better known. He is higher then most people in the polls especially seeing as most candidates are either obscure, wrapped in scandal, or simply not a good candidate for political leadership. Ignatieff is also a renowned writer and former Harvard human rights professor. However, this human rights professor seems to care little about human rights and should not be leader of the Liberals or even worse Canada.

Usually political leaders are someone who know the culture of the country and lived there most of their life (either from being born or immigrating). Ignatieff seems to have neither. Any candidate for Canadian leadership should be bilingual because, it is a bilingual country. Our current Prime Minister is even from out West yet, learned French because, without it you exclude a sizable section of the population concentrated in Quebec and New Brunswick. Ignatieff and the majority of the other contenders need to seriously brush up on their French.

There is also the question of residency. Ignatieff has not lived in Canada that long. He may have been born and raised in Canada, but basically for the significant part of the rest of his life he lived in the United States teaching at Harvard. He was parachuted into a riding despite a local candidate and a significant Ukrainian population. Many Ukrainian-Canadians have opposed him for passages in his book Blood and Belonging as being prejudiced against Ukrainians. His riding that he was parachuted into has a significant Ukrainian-Canadian population, but regardless he won the seat and now is consistently referred to as the rookie MP.

This rookie MP and former human rights professor seems to not care about certain human rights and, is a pro-war advocate. When Ignatieff was still at Harvard in the lead up to the Iraq war he was strongly in favour of it. He said he supported it due to the human rights abuses of Saddam Hussein, but by that time Saddam had stopped his vast murders and, there were much more awful conflicts such as the genocide in Darfur that nothing was being done about. Now by most accounts Iraq is in worse condition then under Saddam and the United States also uses torture. But, even at a time when he was referring to himself as an American [1] he was chastising Canada on not joining the war. At his March 30th, 2006 speech at the University of Ottawa he tried to defend that position saying that at the time he supported it to uphold human rights, but now he is a MP and has to think of his constituents.

Yet, when it came to a vote on the extension of the Afghanistan occupation until 2009 on May 17th, 2006 he voted in favour. He and a small number of Liberal MPs propped up the Harper government's position despite most Canadians being against the continuation of troops in Afghanistan [2]. Harper even crossed the floor in order to shake Ignatieff's hand after the vote.

The most biggest controversy surrounding Ignatieff however, is his position on torture. Ignatieff says that he is against torture, but is for coercive interrogation. He states in a 2004 New York Times article " Permissible duress might include forms of sleep deprivation that do not result in lasting harm to mental or physical health, together with disinformation and disorientation (like keeping prisoners in hoods) that would produce stress. What crosses the line into the impermissible would be any physical coercion or abuse, any involuntary use of drugs or serums, any withholding of necessary medicines or basic food, water and essential rest."[3] The keeping of prisoners in hoods, with sleep deprivation, and stress position are forms of torture just not in the conventional sense. Those techniques do result in lasting mental and physical harm. His campaigners try to convince people of otherwise yet, his position is shown well enough.

Someone who has not lived in Canada for the majority of their life, are lacking French, write prejudiced passages, chastises Canada on not joining an illegal war, proports the continuation of the Afghanistan occupation and, condones coercive interrogation is not who should be leading Canada. Ignatieff may be able to win over certain votes, but he is an American by his own acknowledgement. Canada should be run by a Canadian who protects what the majority of Canadians believe in equality and, peaceful not aggressive foreign policy.

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Anonymous CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

Good timing for me to recycle a comment I made a while back on Bob Rae's vision for Canada, and some of his impressive policies. If you haven't had a chance to read it, you can find his policy outline in his June 6 speech to the Economic Club of Toronto (found at

He outlines his vision of Canada, and several very specific principles which would guide a Liberal government lead by him as Prime Minister. The contrast between Rae's liberal principles and the narrowness of Harper's principles is stark. The battle lines in the coming election – should Rae be elected Liberal leader – are clearly outlined in this speech.

It is worth talking about a few of Rae's major points.

Let's start with his vision – it is one every Liberal (and Canadian) could gladly subscribe to: "My vision is one that sees a thriving, sustainable economy, competing with the strongest economies of the world. Where there is a spirit of innovation, entrepreneurialism and risk-taking. Where we champion education, skills, and learning. Where opportunity and hope for a bright future are shared widely. And where the federal government plays a facilitative, leadership role in helping to establish such a climate."

The role of the federal government as a facilitative and leadership one in carrying out the vision is very different from the view Harper has of the federal government: Harper wants to diminish its role, and hive off taxation and other powers to provinces. This is a major fault line between the neocon New Tories and the Liberals. Harper will find support from the Bloc and many Quebeckers for part of this downsizing vision he has, but most Canadians – once they understand what the impact of Harper's view is – will not want the federal government to be weakened that way. Rae has clearly placed a marker on the political landscape with this vision; he is fighting for a bolder federal role, unlike Harper.

Some of the major principles Rae sets out which resonate with me are:

• "Prosperity matters. Wealth creation matters. So does sharing opportunity. Because it is right." I share his conviction that sharing opportunity is a moral imperative in the Canadian culture; unlike the we win/you lose mindset of the Conservatives.

• Canada has a competitive advantage in its publicly-funded, as opposed to employer-funded, health care system. Harper wants to reduce this advantage.

• Our governments are not taking "enough of a proactive approach to facilitating dynamism in the economy by using such levers as the tax and regulatory systems." He gives some good, practical examples of how this could be done.

• His stand on education is refreshingly clear and remarkably attractive: "The principle is clear. Every qualified student should have access to college and university. And no one should be loaded down with cost and debts they can't afford."

• He would increase the role of the federal government in spearheading research and innovation, through universities and other bodies.

• He would focus on helping the poor help themselves (rather than simply accepting that poverty will always be with us, as the Tories seem to): "We need to ensure that the economy we are building with these important investments works for all Canadians. And that we don't shortchange ourselves, by keeping a segment of our population trapped in poverty, unable to contribute, unable to realize their abilities and their hopes". He sets out some practical ways to do this.

• His focus on the main provider of employment in Canada – the small and medium sized enterprises, is spot on.

Much food for thought in this speech. Such a Prime Minister could electrify this country.

A good candidate for Prime Minister of Canada. One worth a re-look by those who have dismissed him because "he cannot win in Ontario". This man can win, there and in many other provinces.

Give him the benefit of a fresh look. You might be pleasantly surprised.

4:13 p.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

I don't support Bob Rae either. Then again I don't endorse any of the candidates outright. I'm independant and I think I'll stay that way.

However, I will give him that he is better then Ignatieff.

4:39 p.m.  
Anonymous CuriosityKilledTheCat said...

I am not surprised at the reaction against Ignatieff. It boils down to a simple equation: where is the person's "centre of gravity"? Ignatieff's is clearly south of the border, given where he has spent most of his life, and his work there.

That being so, why one earth did he believe that he could become Prime Minister of Canada? This is not America. We are very different. Our histories are not similar; our core beliefs are different in striking ways; our approach to the world is through a different prism...

Ignatieff's prism on the world is through America. Understandable.

But .... this is Canada.

4:48 p.m.  
Blogger betmo said...

i guess there aren't any more import/export tariffs now that nafta has been around for a significant time. i am exploring a link between conservative movements here in in north america and the fact that many of the western world's government are now conservative. i know that it sounds like a conspiracy theory- but i think that they have mobilized to take over the world. funny that this guy suddenly comes rocketing onto the scene in canada when he he has live most of his life in the states. we have a rampant problem here with the right infiltrating the left and pretending to be left wing candidates in order to run. one party rule is no joke.

6:39 p.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

To Curiosity:

See yeah, my problem isn't with Americans, its with anyone who wants to become the leader of a country despite loyalties laying elsewhere. His loyalties also lie in imperialism in the name of human rights. That statement is an oxy moron and does not work. Plus his position on 'coercive interrogation' is horrible. Thats why when he came to speak at my University he was met with some resistance: Image here.

To Betmo:
Well the Liberals aren't a left party. They are centrist. To the 'taking over the world' statement I would agree that conservatives want to see their platform around the world. Its an idea of globalization and free-trade and all the rest. Though, look at what socialists stand for. They would also want their ideas around the world, as many ideologies would. The issue is that neo-cons and neo-liberals are the ones with power right now. They of course are going to use the power they have to spread their agenda whether that be through direct war, 'free' trade or, international organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, or others.

9:09 p.m.  
Blogger sappho said...

Ooooh, sounds like you got yourself a little Bush wanna-be! I hope this ass dosent get elected, I would hate for Canada to become anything like the US!

5:53 p.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

Actually our current Prime Minister Harper is worse then this guy in some respects. Plus Ignatieff would probably have to lower his IQ quite a bit to be a Bush wannabe *laughs*

6:17 p.m.  
Blogger sappho said...

LOL! That's so true!
And I'm still thrown about Harper being elected!

9:32 p.m.  
Blogger Jade said...

I actually said he was going to win before the election so I wasn't. The Liberals were so rocked in scandle and most people don't think the NDP have any chance so they vote Conservative. I don't know how familiar with our system you are, but its not that Harper was elected its more that the Conservatives were elected whom Harper happend to be the leader of.

9:55 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Center for Media Research has released a study by Vertical Response that shows just where many of these ‘Main Street’ players are going with their online dollars. The big winners: e-mail and social media. With only 3.8% of small business folks NOT planning on using e-mail marketing and with social media carrying the perception of being free (which they so rudely discover it is far from free) this should make some in the banner and search crowd a little wary.

8:29 a.m.  
Blogger Anya & Tom said...

Michael Ignatieff and Stephen Harper are Bilderberg scum and have the exact same agenda.

Liberal vs. Conservative is a false paradigm.

The true fight is Global PRIVATE Interests vs. Free Humanity.

You will not get your new world order.

10:00 a.m.  

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