Archived entries for Michael Ignatieff

Umm, you said what?

ignatieff_0123My award for Most Jaw-Dropping Quote of the Day (so far) goes to Michael Ignatieff, the Harvard celebrity-academic parachuted into a Toronto electoral district by the Liberal Party but who is now at risk of a stunning defeat:

“I’m a strong liberal internationalist,” Ignatieff said. “That means when people are being chopped into small pieces I want to stand up for them.”

Things aren’t looking so hot for Ignatieff; look for him to be back on the streets of Cambridge as soon as the first flight from Toronto lands in Boston tomorrow morning.

Even Ron Chyczij, the Liberal Party’s local leader in Ignatieff’s Toronto district, has pulled his support, endorsing the Conservative candidate instead! “After the nomination fiasco,” he said, “I’ve purposely waited on the sidelines to see if Michael Ignatieff can in some way redeem himself as a credible Liberal candidate in this riding. I regret to conclude this has not happened.”

2005 Hall of Fame and and Shame

None of these people really qualify for a Hall of Shame. It’s more like a Hall of Embarrassment, or Hall of Painful Obviousness, instead. In no particular order:


Christy Clark, for living in the ‘burbs while running for mayor of Vancouver and thinking she could get away with it. Called an opportunist, public backlash of her residency skirting ensued and so when she eventually she bought a place in the city, no one really believed her spokesman when he said, “she wanted to move into Vancouver no matter what.” In the end, it didn’t matter, because she lost.

Beverly Desjarlais, a member of parliament from northern Manitoba, was repaid by her Liberal Party constituents for her stance against same-sex marriage when they did not renominate her for the January 23 federal election. She has been forced to run as an independent.

Michael Ignatieff, for trying to run for federal office in Canada while living in Boston, repeatedly claiming he was a resident of Toronto, all the while telling the Harvard Crimson that if he loses the race, he wants to be back in Boston. And of course, I add him to this year’s Hall of Embarrassment for misspelling “Ottawa” in numerous places in his online curriculum vitae. The egregious error has since been corrected.

Ralph Klein, the chain-smoking premier of Alberta and former mayor of Calgary, for so relentlessly battling the encroachment of same-sex marriage into Texas North. Still, I give him credit for throwing his hands up in the air in June and declaring, “There are no legal weapons. There’s nothing left in the arsenal…We’re out on a lurch.”

Brian Mulroney, former prime minister of Canada, for being so uncouth when talking to the man who eventually wrote his biography. If you didn’t hate him when he ran the country, you do now. One columnist called the book a “tale of anger, betrayal and braggadocio so loud and lewd that ‘unguarded’ and ‘confession’ are an understatement.”

In some cases, my Hall of Fame might be better termed the Hall of People Pissing Others Off and Not Really Giving a Damn:


Gerald Tremblay, the dorky and sometimes flamboyant mayor of Montreal, for breaking royal protocol and giving Princess Margriet of the Netherlands a peck on the cheek when she visited the city in May. “I don’t know if she was amused, but I can tell you Her Highness was not upset,” her handlers told the press.

Scott Brison, the openly gay Cabinet minister from Nova Scotia, not for being an openly gay politician, but for so willingly admitting to the press that he is engaged to his boyfriend of only SIX MONTHS. But never mind. Scott, we still love you, and we look forward to invitation to the wedding, and the divorce proceedings.

Frank McKenna, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. and former premier of New Brunswick, for telling the press mere days into his appointment that “the United States is a wonderful creation.” However, “the government of the United States is in large measure dysfunctional.” So much for being diplomatic.

Peter Jennings, for helping import dozens of Canadian journalists to the U.S. all the while infuriating those who believe Canadian reporters shouldn’t be delivering news about America to Americans. An ABC colleague told me, “In a television world that too often focuses on celebrity and tabloid tales and seems to prize the anchorman who yells the loudest, Peter refused to play along. He fought aggressively to keep international news on his newscast. He believed Americans needed to know what is going on in the world beyond their borders.”

Andre Boisclair, the openly gay and formerly drug-using leader of the Parti Quebecois, for giving me something to write about that appeals to American gay men otherwise uninterested in anything related to Canadian politics. A friend or two of his also deserve credit for feeding me gossip about him — which, I might add, I have not posted on the Internet.

Ignatieff forced to defend residency

Michael Ignatieff faced a tribunal this week looking into his residency, which seems to change every few days depending on which newspaper you’re reading. The human rights scholar contends that although he has spent the past 27 years living outside of Canada, he has returned approximately 50 times each year. That’s nearly once a week. According to the Globe, “his reasons for visiting Canada included ‘to see family and friends, to engage in lecture appearances and television productions and to receive honorary degrees.’ He has received six honorary degrees in Canada, leaving approximately 1,344 visits for other purposes.”

Meanwhile, the New Democratic Party has named Liam McHugh-Russell, a 25-year-old University of Toronto student, as Ignatieff’s opponent in the race for the Etobicoke–Lakeshore district. “Some Liberal bigwigs have made it easy for us,” McHugh-Russell told the Star. He is hopeful, saying Ignatieff’s support for the Iraq war will prove fatal in Etobicoke.

Ignatieff finally corrects his spelling of Ottawa

It has been 11 days since I first spotted Michael Ignatieff’s egregious misspelling, “Ottowa” in multiple places of his Harvard CV. The errors were still there last night, but this morning all references to Ottawa have been corrected.

Ignatieff moved to tears

ignatieff_augustine_1207This race is really getting emotional. And not for the Liberal Party candidates who lost the chance to run in their own electoral district, but for Michael Ignatieff, the star candidate who was spirited into Etobicoke–Lakeshore from his home in Boston. The Star reports today that Harvard academic wasmoved to tears the other day after he received a standing ovation from a room full of Jean Augustine supporters. She’s the woman currently holding the seat for Etobicoke–Lakeshore, who will not be running for reelection.

Meanwhile, under fire for his comments to the Harvard Crimson last week in which he said that he hoped to return to Harvard if he lost the election in Canada, Ignatieff clarified his comments with the Harvard student paper today:

“Here’s the straight scoop. I am on leave technically for 6 months [until June 30 2006]. But after that, my relationship with Harvard concludes,” he said, adding, “It would be an honor to return to Harvard once my political career is concluded. Not if I get defeated—I don’t expect to get defeated. And I shouldn’t have answered hypothetically.”

A York University professor explained to the Crimson the challenge facing Ignatieff: “The problem here is, people are particularly focused on his pro-Bush position and his pro-war position, which the Canadian public in general is not [in favor of] and the Liberal party itself took a position against.”

Ignatieff: ‘less naive than I appear’

BC-FedElxn-Liberals TOPIXI don’t envy Michael Ignatieff. Things aren’t looking pretty in Toronto as residents of the electoral district he’s running in are pull out all the stops in an effort to oust his from the nomination. The Harvard academic says he’s up for the battle, and is “less naive than I appear.” Some Liberals are calling for his recall, and anappeal of his nomination is pending; a decision is expected Tuesday.

Comments surrounding his Boston, er, Toronto residency keep getting better and better. He told a visiting Star reporter in Boston last week, “My wife and I would be delighted, were we elected in Etobicoke-Lakeshore, to move into the ri”ding.” He bought a place in downtown Toronto last summer, but it’s certainly not in the Etobicoke section of town. This bizarre practice of parachuting in candidates may seem completely foreign to Americans, but it is not entirely uncommon in Canada.

Iggy says he might go south

He’s been heckled and jeered for being a carpetbagger, but Michael Ignatieff is not giving up this race for anything! It’s day three of the campaign, and already there’s been more excitement than he probably bargained for. Still, he’s hedging his bets on this one. The candidate for House of Commons told the The Harvard Crimson that if he doesn’t get elected, he hopes the university will have him back (thanks Simon Pole). But in a reversal, he later told the Globe and Mail it was just a joke.

The Boston Globe has picked up on his story and provides an excellent explanation of the race for those needing context:

Ignatieff’s political future is far from assured. The 58-year-old has been labeled a carpetbagger by some for seeking office in a country where he has not lived for decades.

There is also the issue of his sudden rise. Some in the Liberal Party say his nomination in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore district was tainted by machinations. When the current office-holder announced unexpectedly that she would not seek reelection, Ignatieff’s nomination came within days — a move some Liberal Party members say was orchestrated by party officials to position Ignatieff, whom they consider a potential national political star.

”It’s going to be a real slog,” said Robert Bothwell, a history professor at the University of Toronto who knew Ignatieff at Harvard. ”People will be asking: Is he a Canadian or American?”

Ignatieff’s residency a wee bit of an issue

ignatieff_1201Michael Ignatieff was booed and taunted with chants of “shame!” and given a “rough ride” but ultimately prevailed at his party’s nomination meeting last night in Toronto. His biggest obstacle in this race is sure to be deflecting criticism over what many in the blogosphere are calling his “paratrooping” back to Canada for the election.

The U.S. press is finally catching on to the intrigue of this race. The wry New York Observerreports, “Mr. Ignatieff appears presently to be residing in several places at once: Colleagues at Harvard said that he was in Cambridge until mid-December; the president of the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) said that he was ‘back and forth quite a bit,’ while one member of the Toronto academic community was under the impression that he’d already joined the University of Toronto.”

The left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) came out swinging on Wednesday, releasing a press release that rather sarcastically says Ignatieff will be “nominated” and “plans to campaign in the riding sometime next year when he actually moves to Canada from the United States.”

Myroslava Oleksiuk, who heads the riding association in Etobicoke, told the press on Tuesday that she had not received a membership application from Ignatieff, effectively calling the validity of his campaign into question.

I don’t know what riding association Mr. Ignatieff belongs to. The Constitution of the Liberal Party of Canada requires that members be ‘ordinarily resident in Canada.’ I understand that Mr. Ignatieff has spent the last 30 years living and working outside of Canada…If I had been asked, as Membership Secretary, to accept a membership application from Mr. Ignatieff, I would have questioned his eligibility for membership, particularly if it was made at a point in time when he was still working outside of Canada.

Who knows how this will turn out? The Observer assesses the race this way:

“Mr. Ignatieff hasn’t lived in Canada since 1978. His status as a parachute artist — one who was literally plucked by party leaders and inserted as a candidate in the district where he’s running — is sure to dog him, as will his high-profile support of the invasion of Iraq. To say that the war is unpopular in Canada would be an understatement.”

• Ignatieff hammered in Edmonton
• Resistance Against Ignatieff’s Paratrooper Jump

Canadian pol-wannabe still spells capital “Ottowa”

ignatieff_1130I wasn’t going to go on and on about Michael Ignatieff, the Harvard intellectual who has announced plans to run for Canadian Parliament, but I’ve been getting a fair amount of email about him so I’ll expand a bit on mypost from Monday. To start, I will just tell you that he still cannot spell “Ottowa” correctly. So while this could have been rectified with a few keystrokes before anyone else found out about it, my little find has been immortalized in the blogosphere as more and more people mention this minor little fact on their sites.

Ignatieff has lived outside Canada since graduating from the University of Toronto 30 years ago, so it is no surprise he has attracted a lot of criticism for ditching academia and suddenly proclaiming his candidacy for federal office.

There is widespread speculation that he is being groomed to take over Paul Martin’s job as leader of the Liberal Party. But that aspiration will depend on the will of voters in Etobicoke–Lakeshore, his would-be district (also known as a riding in Canadian English) on the western end of Toronto. Many contend he unfairly received his party’s nomination for the riding, where local candidates who had filed nomination papers on-time claim they were locked out of the race. And in fact, party officials acknowledged Tuesday they used a little known “electoral urgency” policy in declaring the race, which allows only 24 hours for nominations to be filed.

And a further setback materialized on Sunday when protestors gathered in Etobicoke to voice concern over his comments about Ukrainians — who make up a significant chunk of the area — in his book “Blood and Belonging.” He has spent the past two days trying to reach out to Ukrainians in the city who feel he has belittled them in his literary and academic life.

While the damage may be done, the general election that began yesterday will drag on until January 23 — one of the longest in history (Canadians don’t get the 2-3 years of posturing and campaigning that Americans endure) — giving voters just enough time to assess Ignatieff’s motivations, and deconstruct any spin from the Liberal’s well-oiled political machine.

The Globe and Mail succinctly summed up his debut on the stump: “Michael Ignatieff slid from the velvet daggers of academe into the rude pikestaffs of partisan politics yesterday, forced to defend himself … against accusations of trashing Ukrainians in print.”

Harvard prof to run for Canadian Parliament

Michael Ignatieff, the professor at Harvard who earlier this year said he would leave Boston to teach at the University of Toronto, has announced plans to run for Canadian Parliament, representing the Etobicoke section of Toronto on the Liberal Party ticket. Some might consider it a bad sign that Ignatieff, who has lived outside Canada for about 30 years, has “Ottawa” misspelled on his Harvard web site at least twice:


But never mind the minor errors (probably made by some unenlightened American underling, right?). The prominent journalist-turned-intellectual, who has been called Canada’s “sexiest cerebral man,” was long believed to be shopping for a district in which to run for Parliament, and found one last week in Etobicoke (where people only go to shop at IKEA). Ignatieff will run in the western Toronto borough following news that the current MP, Jean Augustine, will not be seeking re-election.

ignatieff_1128Earlier this year, Ignatieff’s lawyer, Michael Levine, said that musings about a potential run were “pure, unadulterated conjecture.” Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail provided a fine explanation of the challenges facing Ignatieff’s candidacy as those rumours began to get more press a few weeks ago: “Mr. Ignatieff’s name would mean nothing on the streets of most Toronto ridings. His long career as a public intellectual in Britain and, more recently, in the United States speaks well for the contribution he could make to Canadian public life. But public intellectuals are known by only a minority of the voting public. To which might be added the fact that Mr. Ignatieff hasn’t been around much these past three decades.”

• Ignatieff bid for Toronto riding sparks protest
• Where, oh where, will the Grits plant Ignatieff?

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