Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Solid Ground

I've only read snippets, along with a few reviews, so I don't claim to have an intimate sense, but the broad strokes of Ignatieff's new book seem pretty self-evident. Cynics will note the timing of release, the subject matter convienient, in that the book just happens to address a looming Conservative attack line. It should be noted, the work began well before Ignatieff's return to Canada, but it's fair to see the finished piece as "timely". Whatever, early feedback suggests a passionate effort that is genuine in spirit.

Leaving aside motivations, the political treatise, Ignatieff's philosophy of what Canada has been and should be, thinking "big", I'm curious how this book plays electorally. I've never thought the Conservatives really had a big card to play on the patriotism front, but it's clear they do and whether overt or subtle they intend to paint Ignatieff in a negative light on this score. Leaving all the counters aside, I think there is no question this book will serve to further undermine that particular attack line. Some of it isn't news, but more a vivid reminder, Ignatieff's roots in this country are expansive and impressive, he takes great pride in his heritage (the book apparently contains a chapter on a 2000 roadtrip across the country retracing some of the family legacy). This family has been part of many key "dramas", as Ignatieff's likes to say, within our collective history, so much so questioning the connection to country is rendered ridiculous.

Most Canadians will never read the latest Ignatieff book, but the vast majority of the media conduit will, and these musings act as a concrete foundation that dismisses any rational accusation of Canadian convenience- unless of course ambition and ego is something new in the political realm. In fact, this book renders the opponent attack line entirely neutered; the claim can be made, distortions presented, but within the Canadian reality, it all seems silly, almost childish in the suggestion. Ignatieff is a fantastic writer, who's ability to articulate serves him well in establishing his credentials, if that's the frame. There are ample stories in his arsenal, that will ultimately brush off the "hockey dad vs detached ex-pat". If anything, Ignatieff seems to have a much better sense of country than the people who will claim high ground.

This book will serve Ignatieff well moving forward, frankly I think the Conservatives had best go back to the drawing board. It was always a weak proposition, particularly because the retorts are strong and genuine, but now it seems obvious- that dog won't hunt. The only caveat, sound strategy seems to have been replaced by desperation (good luck with coalition "letter", oohhh scary), so they will probably try. I think Ignatieff might just relish the debate...


RuralSandi said...

What the Cons will leave out - Ignatieff had a "contract" with the publisher - he had to finish it to meet his obligations. Ah, well, minor detail.

As I understand it, some proceeds will go to charity.

Constant Vigilance said...

It seems to me that a theme to the responses to the attacks should be along the lines of: Who will serve Canada better? A person from a family with a long history of public service, has been educated at some of the world's greatest institutions, and been acclaimed internationally or someone who has no international profile, as educated a a second tier university and has never worked outside of the HofC or a "think tank" and is on record as deprecating Canada abrod and at home?

sjw said...

While as you say "most" Canadians will indeed not read Ignatieff's newest offering I think the numbers who do will be rather significant given his new role as Liberal leader and potential PM. Yesterday I went down to the library to place it on hold only to find I was the 11th person to already do so! I decided instead to order it from Chapters and opted to take out the books precursor 'The Russian Album'. I also borrowed 'The Lesser Evil' which interestingly enough was taken out only twice in its publishing year of 2004, once in 2005 and four times in 2006 when Ignatieff entered politics. After a 2007 which saw the book leave the library again only once, I am the fifth person so far this year to borrow it. There is a buzz in the land and I believe it is going to lead to our next Prime Minister! So, as you like to say, Steve..

Stephen Harper 2006-2009

Steve V said...

Has a nice ring to it.


Harper's record on Canada isn't exactly stellar, and his claim to be the man of the masses is laughable, given the pedigree.

burlivespipe said...

I think you're seeing some of the CON talking points getting a little going over... If they were thinking of attacking Ignatieff as an 'ex-pat' with firmer roots southside or across the Atlantic, their own boss just blew that with his sudden fixation on the US emporium of tv lights. While Harper may feel that this is a move which can't be attacked, at least by Liberals, I'm thinking his chess playing is more than losing traction among his own supporters, leaning so heavily on US approval and pats-to-the-head... Just goes to show also that Harper is a narcissist with need for constant attention.

Anonymous said...

I know folks tend to think it is old news. But I still think any move to go after Ignatieff on the "true patriot" front is always just another reminder of all the rather "uncharitable" things Harper has said over the years about his native land (being Canada, not Alberta).

I just don't think the Harper government has much grounding on the matter. Thinking about maybe someday writing a book about Hockey doesn't quite cover for the number of times he has dismissed various regions of the country as being somewhat lacking.

It just really isn't something I fear. As a soft sell, maybe they can try to take Ignatieff down a notch. But anytime it is or becomes a full-fledged attack, the return fire is more damning of Harper.

Steve V said...


Did you see Harper's presser, wherein no reporter asked him about Obama, so he brought it up?


Agreed. I've always thought it was pretty weak argument, particularly because Canadians are generally proud when one of our own does well internationally. Couple that with Harper's litany of disturbing quotes in the past, and it's hard to see much impact. Honestly, these sort of lines, this coalition argument, makes me think they don't know what to do with the guy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Read the Iggy article on the Globe.

This promotion piece in the Globe is used to challenge the notion of Iggy as ex-pat away from country in 30 years. He also deftly used his uncle's opposition to Pearson as the only ammo Harper can use to beat the Grits.

Go hard right. Go so-con right.

Iggy can only be attacked from the right as the cosmopolitan Obama-lite that people such as Shaidle and McMillan loath. One who has slowly destroy the Christian fabric of Canada. In fact, Iggy would be smart to goad Harper into making this attack. Fear of Iggy is based on a so-con irrationality, which is the monopoly of anti-gays, gun nuts, and immigrant-haters. In time, linking Iggy to the coalition may force the Cons to ally themselves closer to the so-cons.

Iggy has thrown a gauntlet at Harper, daring him to run against him as a so-con. Let the ideological war begin.