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...