Ignatieff's murky past is exactly what makes him so suitable for his role to elaborate a Liberal vision of Canada. Canada will be closely integrated with the US and in foreign policy will act as a loyal helpmate of Empire Lite. As a humanitarian imperialist Ignatieff will probably push for even more involvement in the US led war against terror. The Liberals were the ones who got us into Afghanistan and Ignatieff is a big supporter of the mission to bring ""freedom and democracy etc." Ignatieff was a supporter of the invasion of Iraq and even when he somewhat recanted he still thought that it was a good idea but badly executed! The Liberal kingmakers are quite content to see Canada as a handmaiden to the empire providing them our natural resources at bargain prices under NAFTA restrictions and enjoying some favor as sub-contractors supplying the military industrial complex of the empire.
Murky past could haunt Ignatieff
Dec 11, 2008 04:30 AM
Set aside the debate over whether the Liberal party has been as cynical and undemocratic in the pursuit of power as King Stephen (Harper) or just agile enough to respond well to the extraordinary developments of the last 10 days.
Ignore that Michael Ignatieff's coronation was engineered with the same ruthless methodology used by Paul Martin – elbowing out a leader by taking control of the party machinery. Time will tell if Ignatieff's manoeuvre works any better in the long run than Martin's.
Rather, consider this:
While Americans have turned to Barack Obama to thoroughly repudiate George W. Bush's agenda, Canadians are saddled with a Prime Minister and now his potential replacement as well who have both been Bush cheerleaders.
Arguably, the Liberal leader has been even more so than his Conservative counterpart.
As is well-known, Ignatieff supported the war in Iraq, a position he only semi-retreated from last year, in Year 4 of the botched occupation. Even then, he argued that he had been wrong for the right reasons (saving the Kurds from Saddam Hussein), while opponents of the war may have been right for the wrong reasons (ideological opposition to Bush).
He also supported the use of such harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects as sleep deprivation and hooding, even while saying he opposed torture.
He was also an advocate for American exceptionalism in defiance of international law.
Ignatieff's supporters argue that he was merely thinking aloud as a public intellectual.
That won't wash. He was an active participant in the American public debate both preceding and following the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was among those liberals – a professor of human rights at Harvard, no less – who provided intellectual cover for Bush's neo-conservative policies.
Ignatieff's positions were the exact opposite of where a majority of Canadians stood on issues that are a point of differentiation between Canada and the U.S.
Canadians may no longer feel as strongly, preoccupied as they are with the economy. But we can be certain that the Tories won't let him off the hook. They will remind voters of all that he said and wrote.
We got a taste of it early this year in Parliament. On Jan. 28, during a debate on Afghanistan, Defence Minister Peter MacKay noted: "He has said previously ... `To defeat evil,' we must `traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assassinations, even pre-emptive war.'"
Two days later, MacKay added that the Taliban "might also be interested to know that he said, `Defeating terror requires violence. It may also require coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights.'"
This is not an ideological issue of right or left. Managing the relationship with the U.S. is one of the central duties of the prime minister. We've had different models – Harper's and Jean Chrétien's, to take two contemporary examples.
But we've never had a Liberal leader, let alone a prime minister, who had lived in the U.S. long enough to count himself in among "we Americans," and worse, had been a noisy apologist for some of the worst foreign and domestic policy disasters of American history.
Ignatieff is a man of formidable intellect, who has spent a lifetime thinking through some of the knottiest issues of our age. He is well suited to articulate a liberal vision for Canada, at home and abroad, the way Pierre Elliot Trudeau did.
But he cannot do so successfully while dodging his murky past.
Haroon Siddiqui writes on Thursday and Sunday. firstname.lastname@example.org