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The new Prime Minister
November 28, 2005 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Ignatieff for Canada. The Liberals just lost a non-confidence vote and elections are set for January. In Etobicoke, Ontario, Michael Ignatieff, Harvard Professor of Human Rights and Author is set to run. Will this be the opening moves of a new intellectual Prime Minister? How will his views on humanitarian intervention and the idea of a lesser evil play out?
posted by phyrewerx (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Not everyone's happy to see Ignatieff parachuted into Etobicoke.

This electoral campaign is going to be a lot like watching a race where you really want every competitor to lose, but are jeering just a little louder against some of them.
posted by clevershark at 4:38 PM on November 28, 2005


To your point, the Counterpoint

The quotes in question which are 'anti-Ukranian' are taken out of context, and are basically from a deconstruction of the stereotype that takes an entire chapter in the book in question. He's stating what he disagree's with, not what he believes.

As for the nomination process, the two so called candidates were both intelligible - one had not resigned from another position in the party, and one was not even a member of the party. Neither of those things could have been corrected on the stop, so neither of them could have registered even if they had showed up on time / been let in.
posted by tiamat at 4:49 PM on November 28, 2005


"disagree's"? My god, I've lost all language skills.
posted by tiamat at 4:49 PM on November 28, 2005


Will this be the opening moves of a new intellectual Prime Minister?

No.


How will his views on humanitarian intervention and the idea of a lesser evil play out?

I'm pretty sure no-one except Mrs. Ignatieff gives a damn.
posted by docgonzo at 4:53 PM on November 28, 2005


Oh, and a much better waste of time is to track RevMod's Gaffe-o-meter.
posted by docgonzo at 4:56 PM on November 28, 2005


Did anyone notice in the BBC...six hour version of Blood and Belonging....that Ignatieff IS Ukranian?....

There is a very poignant segment were he goes to the home of his grand (perhaps great-grand) father....and visits what is now the town school. That used to be his family's ancestral home?

How about when he visits said relative's grave, and finds it was used as a butcher block during the revolution. Heady stuff

Personally...I think Ignatieff is probably too smart to be a politician, but a brilliant writer, thinker, and documentarian all the same.

I gave a tape of Blood and Belonging to a Serbian friend right after it came out, when the wars wre still going on, and he was in tears thanking me.

"Somebody finally sees" he said. "May I keep it?"

not sure about the political finagling up north....but Ignatieff is a brilliant, class act.


My $.02
posted by timsteil at 5:04 PM on November 28, 2005


Actually when I said "this electoral campaign" I meant nationally, not particularly Etobicoke...

We have the Liberals who (frankly) are corrupt and arrogant to the point where there's a good number of people who'd like to see their butts kicked in January... if it weren't for the fact that in order for this to happen Stephen Harper's Conservatives would have to form the government. By and large I don't think that Canadians are all that interested in having George W. Bush Light as PM. The NDP's heyday has come and gone, and the best it can hope with is for an alliance. As for the Bloc, well, they stand to gain the most from this election, but to what end really? and there are a good number here who aren't about to forgive their springtime pact with the Conservatives.

Meantime Paul Martin and Ralph Goodale get to play Santa Claus with money they knew all along the government didn't need, but took anyway. It's pretty hard not to get the idea that those so-called budget surpluses were anything more than Liberal slush funds.
posted by clevershark at 5:06 PM on November 28, 2005


So they lost eh? (Avoiding the news). Great. Now I have to chose between punishing the ruling party for cronyism [pdf], or rewarding it for it's really awesome legislation.
Damn you government for making me participate!
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:19 PM on November 28, 2005


Oh, and Ignatieff's may be an intellectual, but his rationalizations of preemptive war thoroughly dissapointed me when I heard them in 2003. (He's since had "second thoughts".)
posted by Popular Ethics at 5:29 PM on November 28, 2005


I love my country, but I'm already bored. If we have to have an election campaign now (in spite of the fact that it will clearly deliver us exactly what we currently have), they'd better make it entertaining. I want Stephen Harper in a wet suit on a jet ski. Oh, and he needs to keep the hat on.


posted by Hildegarde at 5:40 PM on November 28, 2005


That first link is evidence of the poor quality of editorial oversight in the Star. I can't remember the last time I read such a subtly biased piece of opinion masquerading as a feature. There are cues throughout the article that cast aspersions on Ignatieff, and make judgements on him but not those who have clearly distorted his argument. Unbelievable. And disgusting, coming from Canada's largest newspaper. But, then, it's easy to throw out catch-phrases such as imperialism, while avoiding actually looking at his argument. The lefty equivalent of the "culture of life" rhetoric and so forth.

As for this crap about him laying the groundwork for torture, it's just more of the dishonest criticism that Ignatieff is likely to receive from the left.

Let's see how this writer makes her point, one quote at a time:

- Instead of being regarded as a champion of human rights, Ignatieff is now being seen, in the words of one senior academic, as "a virus in the human rights movement." [Being seen by just how representative a sample?]

- Ignatieff's response was as violent as it was unexpected. [Violent as in, resigning and writing a stongly-worded letter.]

- What exactly had Harvard's Professor of Human Rights done to deserve such censure? For the answer, we need to go back to the arguments that Ignatieff...began to develop about the need for Western humanitarian interventions.... [Implicitly assumes that he does in fact deserve the censure.]

- [Quoting a critic] "But in the end he [Ignatieff] shares the U.S. government's vision of the violent and compulsory promotion of democracy, the war against terrorism and the use of instruments, for example torture, which are apparently in need of revisionist treatment."

In these ways, "he has established a sort of rational framework for democratization by force and also for the revision of our understanding of human rights."

But how is that revision managed?


[Scandalously, in my opinion, accepts that this revision is managed at all without quopting anyone in response, and therby accepting the nicely inserted libel that Ignatieff would accept torture as a justifiable instrument in combatting terrorism, whic he explictly does not. Actually, this whole peice suffers from uncritically accepting various claims that his critics make, without examining them carefully and treating Ignatieff's response as some kind of a hissy fit.]

- Perhaps it's appropriate to suggest there might be some sign of "reaction formation" in his most recent fulminations. ... Time for Prince Hal to shrug off such early flawed associates and prepare for office in Canada.

[How does this stuff even make it in?]

- There is one other possible explanation for Ignatieff's swinging attack upon the Index.

[Well, thank you for listing all the possible reasons. I'm sure your list - in which legitimate greivance has not figured prominently - is exhaustive.]

- he was now an active proselytizer on behalf of all American interventionism.

[I mean, give me a fucking break. Should add "in the addled minds of his ideologue critics."]
posted by Dasein at 6:07 PM on November 28, 2005


I love to watch dirty politicians twist in the wind. Death to them all.
posted by caddis at 6:23 PM on November 28, 2005


I can't remember the last time I read such a subtly biased piece of opinion masquerading as a feature.

You obviously don't read the Star enough. Still, how else are they supposed to make our politics interesting without bullshit sensationalism?
posted by Krrrlson at 6:33 PM on November 28, 2005


You obviously don't read the Star enough.

No, clearly not. Though I occasionally come across great deconstructions of their race-baiting in the Globe and Post.

Can I just also say that the whole thrust of the argument about "laying the groudwork" for supporting torture is bullshit. I might as well accuse black leaders who favour all-black schools of laying the groudwork for apartheid. It would be about as honest and about as accurate.
posted by Dasein at 6:39 PM on November 28, 2005


Dasein: I agree that the Star piece reads like a bad Macleans article, but Ignatieff rightly has to face a lot of criticism for his pre-war arguments. By my reading, "The Lesser Evil" asserted that terrorism posed such a threat that it justified the (measured) use of force. Most Canadians find this idea frightening because it can be, and has been, applied too broadly.

Even with hindsight, Ignatieff has not found fault in his argument: "I passionately do not believe that this is the necessary consequence of an invasion of this kind, an intervention of this kind. What I believe is that it was a command failure..."
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:41 PM on November 28, 2005


I have no idea what result I want.

Ideally, maybe, a Conservative minority, followed by a close Liberal majority again.

The wasteful tendencies of the Liberals need to be trimmed, but I don't trust the Conservatives on social policy, so I wouldn't want a majority again. I can't see myself voting NDP because they are not fiscally competent at all, and anyway I think that voting NDP or Green is a little risky because of the danger of a Conservative majority.

So...probably I'll vote Liberal, but I might vote Conservative if the Liberals start to look like they'll do too well and get a majority.
posted by Kickstart70 at 6:55 PM on November 28, 2005


I'm voting Liberal; I'm in Ujjal Dosanjh's riding, and there's no stigma of corruption on him. I think it'll end up a Liberal minority again.

There's no danger of a Conservative majority. None. I'd stake my life on it. There is a tiny but finite chance of a Conservative minority, and I don't think that this would necessarily be a bad thing, since they would not be able to push through any kind of socially conservative agenda and then they'd be defeated at the first budget vote, forcing another election.

Canada might end up like Italy throughout much of the postwar era, with new governments about once a year.
posted by solid-one-love at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2005


Just so everyone knows, the Prime Minister of Canada isn't elected by the country, but only by his riding (electoral district), he's more of an equivalent to the Speaker of the House in the States. And has about as much power. (in Canada that is).

Unforunately, the liberals will win again, which will be no surprise, they seem to be the only ones that are any good at politicking. Blah.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:54 PM on November 28, 2005


Damn. Damn. Damn. I lived in that riding for 15 years and just moved a couple of months ago. Figures I'd leave just before it got interesting.
posted by maudlin at 7:55 PM on November 28, 2005


This January I'll be voting for the first time and in this riding. This little debacle isn't making that any easier. I have to admit to being a little confused at all of this.
posted by Evstar at 8:14 PM on November 28, 2005


Allan Gregg has an interesting article about the whole Gomery/adscam thing here.
posted by Zinger at 8:21 PM on November 28, 2005


He's more powerful than the Speaker of the House... A majority-leading Prime Minister, in Canada, has to be one of the most powerful figures in Western democracy. None of the bickering between the President and 2 houses of Congress like in the States, none of the personality disputes between the President and the Cabinet in France, and much less back bench opposition compared to the UK.
posted by maledictory at 8:26 PM on November 28, 2005


I'm in Ujjal Dosanjh's riding, and there's no stigma of corruption....

buh wah? Was that whole Grewal tape incident just a dream? Or is it ok now to dangle patronage jobs in front of prosective floor-crossers?
posted by bonehead at 8:28 PM on November 28, 2005


Is Jean Augustine another Chretien Liberal being pushed out by Martin?
posted by Chuckles at 8:38 PM on November 28, 2005


buh wah? Was that whole Grewal tape incident just a dream?

Dosanjh didn't do anything wrong. There's no stigma of corruption on him. There were investigations by several parties including the RCMP. Grewal, by virtue of his other shenanigans, has a whiff of corruption about him. Dosanjh has nothing but respect on the Hill and in his riding. He will be elected with more than 60% of the vote, I guarantee.

He's more powerful than the Speaker of the House... A majority-leading Prime Minister, in Canada, has to be one of the most powerful figures in Western democracy.

Indeed. The PM leads the Executive by fiat. He determines which bills the government will introduce. He commands the Government House Leader as to which order bills will be heard and if any private bill will be allowed a second reading. He determines the makeup of cabinet and caucus and can remove any member from caucus or from the cabinet. He can even bring non-elected citizens into Cabinet, although that is rarely done. He can only be removed from hsi position as head of the party in a leadership vote, and that vote is by designates from the riding associations, not by the other MPs or cabinet ministers.

The PM wields vast, vast power.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:02 PM on November 28, 2005


Hey Evstar, if you're still confused in January, why don't you find someone you like in York South-Weston and I'll vote for them, and I'll advise you which way to turn on Etobicoke-Lakeshore?
posted by maudlin at 9:11 PM on November 28, 2005


Evstar: If by the debacle you're referring to the criticism from the Ukrainian community, I would say take out the book in question, Blood and Belonging, from the library (there may not be many copies available these days) and see for yourself what Ignatieff has to say. You'll see that he is being unfairly portrayed by his critics. The man is a liberal - he's interested in getting past ethnic stereotypes - it's incredible that someone who has contributed so much to a discussion of the dangers of ethnic chauvinism is being accused of it. Weclome to politics, I guess.

Same thing for The Lesser Evil. Read it for yourself. I think you'll find that whether or not you agree with his arguments, there is no way that he can be fairly described as offering a moral framework in which torture can be justified. Only a deliberate misreading or perversion of his core arguments could lead to such a justification.
posted by Dasein at 9:15 PM on November 28, 2005


bonehead, the Grewal stuff sure was nasty politics, but Dosanjh has been responsible for much uglier business during his tenure as Attorney General of BC.

I was just listening to an account of the Gustafsen Lake Standoff on The Current (see part 2). There is a very detailed article from Socialist Worker (make of that what you will) - Gustafsen: Drop All the Charges.
The trial revealed some of the lengths the RCMP went to create a smear campaign and to try to provoke the Gustafsen Lake Defenders. Both tactics seem to have been in order to justify a massacre. The story of two RCMP officers being ambushed and saved only by their flak-jackets seems to have been completely fabricated and no evidence for it other than the testimony of the two was produced in court.

The video footage from the RCMP's own cameras that recorded all that went on in the besieged encampment is missing for the period during the supposed ambush. On another RCMP tape, an officer remarks that it won't be the first time they have needed to take flak-jackets to the firing range. The manufacturer of the jackets has said that they are meant only to stop small arms fire, not the rifle fire that the Mounties claim to have received. Early on in the standoff, the Mounties seized several weapons from the vehicle of two men arrested for fishing near the Sundancer camp. This was presented as evidence of the terrorist nature of the Sundancers. During the trial, two Mounties testified that the weapons "came from a separate case dealt with elsewhere," and that they "had no evidence to link the guns to the camp."

The abuses of justice during the siege of the Defenders were legion. Suniva Bronson had the truck she was driving blown up by an RCMP landmine, and rammed twice by an armored personnel carrier (ie a tank). She fled unarmed, had 20,000 bullets fired into her camp, and had her right arm shot in the process.

As a result, she was charged with mischief causing actual danger to life and possession of a firearm. This is what passes for justice in BC. This is just some of the evidence that came up in the trial demonstrating the Mounties' attempts to paint the Sundancers as dangerous terrorists, when it was the Mounties who had all the fire power and were eager to use it. Testimony during the trial revealed that the RCMP intitiated shooting incidents, employed land mines, fired 77,000 rounds of hollow-tipped bullets, ordered the shooting of unarmed people in an agreed upon "safe zone", and twisted or outright fabricated incidents for the media.

They were helped along by the NDP Attorney-General Ujjal Dosanjh, who sent a requisition along to the Canadian Solicitor General for "four fifty caliber McMillan Sniper Rifles," and then Premier Mike Harcourt who said the Defenders were "seized with a cult mentality."
He was also Attorney General during APEC...
posted by Chuckles at 9:17 PM on November 28, 2005


I think I'm going to read his book, myself. Ignatieff might be an amazing, intellectual, future leader of Canada, but maybe not. It seems kind of odd that (a) he was placed from above, like that, in Etobicoke-Lakeshore without as far as I know much discussion with the Liberal incumbent, and (b) that there's so much stink about his candidacy already. I guess we'll see how it goes.
I am listening to The Connection he appeared on and he sounds fairly intelligent, but hindsight isn't that hard...
posted by blacklite at 6:01 AM on November 29, 2005


Dangit, now I *really* have to get on that Special Ballot registration. I'm curious to find out how it ends up... but as always, I'll be voting based on the candidate, not on the party. I won't justify voting in some asshole MP just because he happens to be part of the Liberal party.
posted by antifuse at 7:03 AM on November 29, 2005


Martin is on CBC now announcing the dissolution and getting the first free campaigning in. I love the difference between the french and english portions of his speech.
posted by Mitheral at 7:13 AM on November 29, 2005


I am a glutton for punishment, and have taken on an office manager position for my local NDP'er - IN SOUTHERN ALBERTA!

Why? Lets just be honest here for a second:
Fuck the conservatives. I will never vote conservative. Why? Because we would be in Iraq right now if we had a conservative government at the time. The fact that they were so gung-ho about that war means that no matter what they say or do, I will never, ever trust them.

Liberals? I don't think anyone in their right mind should vote for them either. I can't believe my ears here -

NDP because they are not fiscally competent

In what world does the Liberals do what they did over the last 10 years (sponsorship anyone?), and the NDP get pegged as being fiscally incompetent? Seriously! I can't believe that a party as corrupt as the Liberals are going to get the "safe" vote.

I am going to push myself to the top of the NDP chain just to kick some ass, because if they can't win more seats in this election with the corrupt Liberals and the IN-BED-WITH-BUSH-AS-SOON-AS-WE-WIN Conservatives, then they should just scrap what-ever they are doing and start over.
posted by Quartermass at 7:46 AM on November 29, 2005



posted by Quartermass at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2005


via Fark, uv course.
posted by Quartermass at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2005


Quartermass: When a party leader says things like "We should go into debt to get $X done", as Jack Layton has on a number of issues, it scares the hell out of me. It shows a complete disregard for the fact that money has to be paid back by future generations. No debt (or surpluses) is the one thing that could save Canada from the fate that will ultimately screw the U.S. in its choco starfish.

Therefore, I do strongly believe that the current NDP is not fiscally competent. I'd happily go along with most of their social policy vision if it weren't for that. But a strong and healthy economy helps those causes; it doesn't hurt them.

FWIW, I don't really think the Liberals (adscam) or the Conservatives (lots of people still involved from the Mulroney years) are terribly fiscally competent either. But at least they don't tout financial stupidity as part of their platform.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:39 AM on November 29, 2005


Just so everyone knows, the Prime Minister of Canada isn't elected by the country, but only by his riding (electoral district), he's more of an equivalent to the Speaker of the House in the States. And has about as much power. (in Canada that is).

That's not really accurate. It's true that to be Prime Minister, you have to be a Member of Parliament, and to be an MP, you have to win your riding, but that's a no-brainer; the leader of the party has been decided by the party long before the election, and if the leader isn't in a riding where he's an easy win the party makes sure he's moved to one where he is.

It is true that when a Canadian votes in a federal election he's voting for his local member of parliament, but it's a first-past-the-post system in which the party with the most MPs forms a government, so voting for your MP is practically identical to voting for the party you want to form a government, and since the leader of the party is preselected, voting for the party is practically identical to voting for Prime Minister.

As for power, the comparison to the Speaker of the House doesn't make any sense at all to me. The Prime Minister is the leader of the government. He calls the shots and the rest of the party follows his lead. When the party has a majority, the Opposition and the other parties with seats can't bring down votes by numbers alone, and so the Prime Minister basically calls the shots for the country.
posted by mendel at 9:14 AM on November 29, 2005


Well, I'm not Canadian but no way would I ever vote for a supporter of war crime.
posted by Decani at 5:10 PM on November 29, 2005


There are two interesting points to this.

Jean Augustine is the epidome of a Chretien hack. I don't know anything about her honesty or involvement in the sponsorship scandal, but she is an embarrasing hack who rose to prominance way too quickly.

Ignatieff was a big supporter of the war in Iraq. Not even Stephen Harpy supported the war.

Thank God I don't live in that riding.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 6:08 PM on November 29, 2005


Well, I'm not Canadian but no way would I ever vote for a supporter of war crime.

Good thing Ignatieff never supported one, then.

A war isn't a crime because it's a bad idea, or because the French, Russians and Chinese don't sign off on it.
posted by Dasein at 8:07 PM on November 29, 2005


But it's a crime if it breaks the rules of International Law. I think most countries like to believe in International Law and follow it, from time to time. Of course, one could argue International Law was upheld in this case, but in that world I'm not writing this response, a flying pig is doing that.
posted by gsb at 5:16 AM on November 30, 2005


Good thing Ignatieff never supported one, then

But he did. He supported the Iraq invasion, which was an illegal war launched on bogus grounds in direct contravention of the UN and international law. That makes it a war crime. And Ignatieff supported it. Do you see? Sorry, that was a rhetorical question.
posted by Decani at 8:00 PM on November 30, 2005


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