The trouble for the current Liberal leader is that the Tories have successfully turned his resume as an internationally acclaimed intellectual and former Harvard professor into a liability. To hear them tell it, Ignatieff is an elitist academic who's "in it for himself" and "just visiting" Canada after working more than 30 years abroad.
Ignatieff and his inner circle have allowed themselves to be spooked by the Tory attack ads. Consequently, they've "hidden his light under a bushel," playing down Ignatieff's lofty academic and intellectual credentials.
Donolo believes his task is "not so much to package (Ignatieff) as to unpackage him," allow him to be himself and to build on his strength as a thoughtful, insightful deep thinker - the very qualities that initially excited Liberals and evoked comparisons to Trudeau.
The Conservatives successfully "spooked" the Liberals. In using Ignatieff's past to attack, there was an element of "buy in" from our side, that tried to avoid the topic, for the most part. I've always felt that was a mistake, because Ignatieff's pedigree is impressive. Personal opinions aside, it is true, Ignatieff is every bit "an internationally acclaimed intellectual". Success on the international stage, never seemed a net negative from this corner. However, in accepting the Conservative frame as the parameter, the Liberals voluntarily robbed Ignatieff of many of his assets. Everybody knows Ignatieff was gone for a long time, this fact established. The Conservative paint this as a negative, but why do Liberals passively accept?
Many great Canadians have moved abroad. Ignatieff isn't unique, nor are his worldly exploits something Liberals should shy away from, in some misguided patriotic sense. That's the Conservatives game, but there's a counter which we might as well play. We know how the attack ads have defined Ignatieff, so since it's out there, it's completely advantageous to put our own narrative on the table. Ignatieff is a celebrated figure, he's a deep thinker, that commanded respect, that won accolades. Again, people with their own axe to grind aside, being fair, Ignatieff isn't a DUD, just as easily packaged as a treasure.
Canadians suffer from a serious insecurity. We constantly crave attention, we're embarrassing proud of any success a Canadian has abroad, we relish "local boy makes good". Is it really a negative that Ignatieff is an internationally recognized intellectual heavyweight, that his service and talents were a desired commodity on the world stage? You mean he wrote novels that won accolades and respect around the globe? That's a bad thing, that's something to hide in the face of Conservative attack lines? Bullocks. Maybe a few skeletons, Harper has a closet full and he's anything but "regular folk". I would relish a detailed comparison of the respective pedigree's.
Internationalism isn't a dirty word in Canada, never has been. I'm glad to hear Donolo is "game" to tell the other side of the story, rather than unilaterally letting the Conservative smears waft without retort. Ignatieff is an impressive guy, it's about time we let him roam and live in his own skin. Besides, what do you have to lose?