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Congrats, Canada! Your Obama is Coming …

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Pajiba’s Canadian Wonder, Ranylt Richildis, alerted me to the latest development in the Canadian political clusterfuck, and by most accounts, it’s exceptional news. Michael Ignatieff has risen to the top of the Liberal Party, and looks likely to be Canada’s next prime minister.

Ignatieff is actually a little better known here in America than he was in Canada, up until recently. In fact, until 2005, he was the director of Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights (where my wife and sometimes QuizLaw contributor also worked during Ignatieff’s stint — she is mum on his dreamy factor). I understand, too, that he had taken a controversial position on the Iraq War, as well, supporting America’s invasion on grounds that Saddam Hussein was committing human rights atrocities in America, one that didn’t sit well with Molly while she was working there, though she was nevertheless an admirer.

After resigning from Harvard, he instantly became a favorite to become Canada’s leader, this despite the fact that Ignatieff — until recently — had not spent very much of the last 35 years in his home country and had long identified himself as an American.

In either respect, when and if Stephen Harper is ousted, as expected, after the budget vote in January, Ignatieff is in position to take over. I don’t know how most of our Canadian readers feel about it, but Ranylt describes him as a ” charismatic leader with a brain and an unsullied record” and a dream pairing to go along with Obama.

The economy is in global meltdown, but it does appear as though the civilized world is starting to turn to leaders who can help, instead of guys they can have a beer with.


| Comments (17)


Which is all well and good, except none of us ELECTED HIM.

Untrue. He was elected in 2006 and 2008 as MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.

Thanks, Kushiro. The second I posted my statement I realized it was inaccurate. I understand how my government works, and I know that we elect MPs, not a prime minister, and I comprehend how Iggy came to be where he is. This is a fascinating process, and I've enjoyed so much reading everyone's comments on these Quizlaw threads, but my mind is still awhirl when I think of how this all panned out. Next time, I'll think twice and post once!

interesting...just as many people I know wanted the conservatives to win back in 06 just to see what they would do, I think Ignatieff would give us a real chance to see if Canada can back up its position on human rights and intervention with actual action under someone who essentially wrote liberal Canada's position on human rights and national identity and explained it to them on broadcast television.


I apologize for the curt reply. I've been slowly losing my mind arguing with people who just don't get it.

I did have to check, though, as sometimes party leaders don't actually win their seats and have to be given one. John Tory, the Conservative leader in Ontario, lost his seat and currently does not have a place at Queen's Park.

Wow...so is the exchange between Kikadee and kushiro what flame wars are like in Canada? It really is Bizarro World.

(Just the gentlest poking of fun. If only everyone could be that polite.)

The bad news is that he has consistently taken a dim view of the coalition, thus making its limited days likely even more limited, and I was really looking forward to the entertainment value of its continued improbable existence.

There is a lot of unhappiness about this anointing, within the Liberal party, but they are staying fairly muffled, waiting on how he does. He is as arrogant as they come; if he can pull off a Liberal resurrection, and it is obvious he thinks he can, he's in for life; if he can't, he will be toast, and likely the Liberal party too. Well, it will be longer term, but fun to watch too.

As a young un, I made a bet with unpleasant consequences for if I lose that there would be an NDP government within 50 years; right now, I am hoping I die before I get old. That, and rooting for an unpleasant and protracted political demise for Iggy.

"instead of guys they can have a beer with"

Ok, I just have to comment because I've seen that comment multiple times and it chaps my ass.

Why would anyone want to have a beer with the DipShit in Chief? The guy is a moron. He's the kind of guy you suffer through when you're someplace having a beer and he's somehow in the group. He's the guy you wish you *weren't* having a beer with.

Iggy is not Obama. I don't think he's all that charismatic. He lost the last leadership race to Stephane Dion, for Christ's sake!

He's also not all that pro-coalition. He supports a "coalition if necessary, but not necessarily a coalition" (which is a Canadian inside joke.)

I guess we'll see what comes out of it. In the mean time, this whole mess has galvanized separatist support over in Québec, with the Parti Québécois scoring much higher than anticipated in Québec general elections on Monday. Looks like the plot is thickening all around in Canadian politics. Fun times!

On Iraq: Ignatieff has since admitted his error (he bought the WMD myth at first, and is ashamed). And his views on torture were purely (and literally) academic; I think he supports a total ban. So we're good--if my understanding is right (and it may not be).

I've been watching Ignatieff's and the Liberal party's flagrant re-branding in the last few days. The interview on As It Happens last night crystallized it: he and they are "the leader and party who are putting the country's welfare ahead of their political ambitions." Vis: the emphasis on Rae's, Dion's, and LeBlanc's "atruistic" stepping aside, and Ignatieff's assertion that he will wait to see the Jan budget and try to work with the Tories rather than tear down the government--for the good of the people (a line, but a smart one). Of course, this is an image construction built on the opportunity Harper's provided them, but it's been brilliantly played in the last 48 hours, and it will probably sway the low-info average voter next poll-time, if they can sustain this.

I'm not usually a Liberal voter, but I'm cautiously optimistic and damned curious about how Ignatieff will perform down the road, and it's fascinating to watch a trainwreck party cohere like this. Harper should be worried, even in the case of a straight-forward election: re-branded and strengthened Grits will dim memories of the Sponsorship scandal.

And no, Ignatieff isn't really an Obama, but I haven't seen a leader like this in my political lifetime. Not here.

Geetch, I'm with you. I don't think I've ever seen a political debate online that didn't result in name calling, blatant exaggerations, and a bunch if ALL CAPS and typos. At least not until these Canadian political discussions.

All those times I threatened to move to Canada because Bush was in office... I should have gone through with it!

I have no strong feelings on Ignatieff, in large part because I'm not a huge politics-watcher. However, if it brings more support to the leftie coalition, then I'm all for him taking over.

I kind of liked poor ol' Stephane Dion, but he was kind of the political equivalent of Ann (Bland? Egg? Who??) on Arrested Development.

Until he strangles someone, I'm still going to vote Green.

meaux - I echo the wistful 'what-if' of Stephane Dion...I never got to figure out if he had some clues under his belt or what. He was so hapless at charisma, luckless with the media, and his french accent was a big problem for the supposedly bilingual lovin' audience distracted from 'Little Mosque on the Prarie' or whatever. I'm sure it's for the best though - if he can't manage us, who can you assert to on the world stage? 'Thanks for coming Stephane, Michelle loves maple syrup'.
Mind you, Harper has all the finesse of an Air Canada pilot reporting on the weather, especially in french. "Bienvenue vers les Etats-Unis d'Amérique" indeed.

Ignatieff's too much of a newcomer to the national scene to be an Obama, but I hope he ditches the coalition and runs like hell. The Libs (arrogant crooks that they are) fancy themselves the natural governing party, and there's no way they'll return to power with the NDP and Bloc alliance around their necks. What they've got now is a critical first step in rebuilding the Liberal party as a viable alternative to Herr Harper - they've got a real leader. Not a Mr. Dithers-like Martin, not a bully like Chretien, and not Mr. Shrugs-like Dion (incomprehensible in both languages!), but a real, intelligent, leader! I think the Liberals need to cautiously prop up the Conservatives while bludgeoning them into not being total dicks until the Liberals can reformulate party policy and set up a better platform, have the Liberal party members (not just the MPs) confirm Iggy as leader, then come May after their convention they topple the Tories and make an honest run of it, co-opting some NDP and Green positions to regain some of the left support, and see if they can't bounce back. If they're any kind of smart, that's what they'll do. And Iggy seems smart - he's telling Harper to behave or else, but isn't promising to pull the plug ASAP. This seems like an intelligent, pragmatic choice, and as long as he keeps the Liberals out of their old tricks he could be very good for Canada.

No way, you mean that Obama is pro-torture and pro-Iraq war too?

My position on Canadian politics is best summed up with a small story from when I lived as an exchange student in France:

This incident took place in the late 1990s, when the Liberals under Jean Chretien were in power. A bunch of us had gone on an optional week-long vacation to the French Riviera. A group of us Canadians had gotten a little.... erm, rowdy one evening, and were singing "Oh Canada" quite loudly outside. Suddenly, a group of 12 - 15 older people stopped and joined us. It was a mini Canadian summit!

After our song, we began to talk. Turns out this group of people were a Progressive Conservative MP and Newfoundland office staff who had been sent there for French language instruction. Let me repeat this: An MP for the opposition party and his entourage, representing the province RIGHT BESIDE Quebec, had been sent on the taxpayer's dime to the French Riviera to learn to speak French. Really? There's no place in Canada where one can learn French? Really? Heading off to Nice in May along with an entourage is really the best use of Canadian resources?

The faces might change, but the game will stay the same. Welcome aboard, Iggy.