Monday, September 18, 2006


Michael Ignatieff was interviewed by AMT (Anna-Maria Tremonte) on the CBC's The Current this morning.

On Quebec, and the recent controversy over his vision for national unity, he said that recognizing Quebec as a nation would merely be a symbolic gesture. Then, without any irony, he described his vision of Canada with the expression "community of communities" !  As if Trudeau wasn't spinning in his grave from his previous comments, I'm sure poor PET was downright altering the spin of the planet at this point.

This was followed up with the caveat that he would only re-open the constitutional debate if he was sure it wouldn't be like a painful trip to the dentist. Iggy would only revisit the Constitution if he knew he had the 'winning conditions' to do so successfully. Again, said without any irony.

He's a smart, reasoned and passionate man, sure. But again, where were you for the past 25 years? Oh, right...


Anonymous said...

Ignatieff is a fool.

If you tell Quebecers that being declared a nation is symbolic and doesn't mean much why would they agree to that?

Michael Ignatieff has shown clearly that he is not the second coming of Pierre Elliott Trudeau ... he's the second coming of Joe Clark -- indeed.

Mike B said...

I wouldn't call him a fool. But I would definitely call him idealistic.

I suspect the idealism comes from studying and musing about Canadian constitutional affairs without actually ever having to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

His idealism comes from having his head stuck up his academic ass and not having lived in the country for thirty years.

You're never going to get a feel for Canada by listening to CBC International, reading stories on the internet, living in Boston and talking to Canadian university students attending Harvard. What you are going to get is this distorted view of Canada that is out of date and slightly condescending

Mike B said...

Part of me thinks that maybe some fresh ideas and insight are needed for the debate, which is what Ignatieff can bring. But a (much larger) part of me thinks "just not the ideas and insight he would bring".

We aren't just another interesting case study in his class.

Anonymous said...

If we ignore the constitutional issue we are just hiding from the inevitable. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in the country that stems from the Constitution as it currently is. It is one of the main reasons why the Liberal Party is largely irrelevant in Quebec. Ignatieff is right to bring it up. Are people in Alberta satisfied by the Constitution? No. Are people in B.C.? No. Things have quieted down since 1995, but the Constitution will become a live issue again in the near future and we need leaders who acknowledge that this is the case.

Mike B said...

A great deal of dissatisfaction? Walk out onto the street, and ask someone: "how do you feel about the Constitution. are you satisfied with it?". You'll get a blank stare. Only the most hardcore professional grievance junkie will tell you that all the problems in their world are due to the Constitution.

The Constitution does not need to be, and cannot be, everything to everyone.

The 'dissatisfaction in the country' are all with different parts of the Constitution. How would Alberta feel if Quebec were called a nation? How would BC feel if aboriginals were called nations?

The Constitution becomes a live issue when politicians mess with it for political gain. If the people feel they need a new constitution, then let them tell their politicians so, instead of us being told we need a new one.

Anonymous said...

Ignatieff NEVER claimed to be Trudeau, in fact he said over and over he wasn't another Trudeau. Other people expected him to be one.

In 1995 Chretien waited far too long to recognize the possibility of a referendum and the separation almost happened.

All of a sudden it's not OK to have some thoughts and theories. He never claimed he was going to force the issue of the Constitution, he is looking at (looking at) the possiblity.

Being away for years doesn't mean a damn thing. I suggest your read "Fuddle Duddle" which incudes a letter written by Marc Garneau (the former astronaut) now a Liberal (who also had been away a long time).

Sometimes jobs and opportunites that you can't get in Canada take you other places - get over it.

Nothing good has ever come in this world without idealism.

Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully disagree with mike b. There is a reason why the Liberal Party is to a great extent not viable in Francophone Quebec. Part of it is Gomery, but part of it is the perception of how open Canada is to Quebec's aspirations. The Constitution is definitely part of that. Listen to any member of the Bloc give a speech in French in Quebec. The Constitution does matter. Ignatieff did not say there should be a devolution of powers to the provinces. It is misleading to say that he did. And this is not a partisan thing. Andre Pratte has written the same thing, in the Globe. Chantal Hebert is writing in the same vein in Quebec. If Boisclair wins the provincial election, don't we have a responsibility as federalists to offer some sort of alternative to the status quo?

goonandbleed said...

Christ Mike B. you are so bloody right.

Mike B said...

"Nothing good has ever come in this world without idealism."

A highly idealistic thought. A lot of good has also come from pragmatism and making the best of what we've got. But it's nice to think it was pure idealism that got us there.

As for offering Quebecers an alternative to the status quo, we have. It's called the Constitution.

Dean P said...

Anonymous said, "Sometimes jobs and opportunites that you can't get in Canada take you other places - get over it."

As someone who, well, is an expat, I can't exactly quibble with that sentiment, in a general sense. But there is a pretty different thing between having a job in Canada, and going abroad for a few years, on the one hand, and basically up and leaving with no intention of coming back and having problems with your pronouns.

Iggy wants to mess with the constitution because he saw it all from the outside. It's one thing to read on CBC about Meech or triple-E senates or whatnot. It's something else to have lived through it. I was what, 15? 12? and can still remember it as being a horrible, awful time.

The minute you open up the constitution, you also accept that you might not close it: as in, we might not exit the process with a better document--we might exit with nothing at all.

Mike is right--no one wants it opened but premiers seeking to score points and clueless Liberal leadership candidates.

Dion all the way, baby.