What It Means to Be Canadian

More

Recent poll numbers made it unsurprising that Canada's Conservatives won yesterday's federal election, but the scale of the win was impressive. The severity of the once-mighty Liberals' drubbing was even more so. Previously either in government or constituting the main opposition party, they were reduced to a dismal third place behind the more left-leaning, pro-labour New Democrats. The NDP and the Liberals both advanced the cap-and-trade approach to greenhouse gases. This is hard to sell (especially west of Ontario) in a country that is a big energy-exporter with hopes of expanding the industry still more.

Michael Ignatieff, the Liberals' leader, said, "We have seen tonight, I think, the emergence of polarisation in Canadian politics." He lost his own seat, resigned as Liberal leader, and appears to be quitting politics altogether. That seems a shame.

I am a bit of an admirer of Ignatieff. He was the main reason, to be honest, why I followed the election--a comment that will rightly infuriate Canadians (most likely including my wife, who is semi-Canadian). He was, as you know, a scholar-journalist-broadcaster in Britain and the US before returning to his homeland to take up politics. He is a likeable man of impressive intellect. His book on Isaiah Berlin, a hero of mine, was excellent. I know, you don't need to tell me, that is no kind of qualification for a career in politics--as we now see confirmed.

I have to say I was startled when his party chose him as leader, despite his decades living and working abroad. This would undermine a party chief in any country--but perhaps especially Canada, which is so given to obsessing over "what it means to be Canadian". Conservative advertising bore down on the point, accusing him of parachuting in for purposes of personal glory. Anti-elitism played a part too. As Reuters noted:

Resident in Canada since 2005 after a career spent mostly abroad, Ignatieff seems to prefer opera to hockey, and his attempts to appear folksy have been a challenge.

As if preferring anything (let alone opera) to hockey was not bad enough,

He is the son of Canadian diplomat George Ignatieff and the grandson of Count Pavel Ignatieff, a minister of education under Russia's Tsar Nicholas II.

These things are not really what it means to be Canadian.


Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Death of Film: After Hollywood Goes Digital, What Happens to Movies?

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In