Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ignatieff past remarks on Royals may haunt him.

The problem with having written quite a bit in the past is that anyone can search through the writings and cherry pick passages that might be embarassing such as those cited here. Personally, I think Ignatieff would be an embarassment even if he had written nothing. The two main parties are both so bad it always amazes me why they get so many votes compared to minor parties. I suppose everyone wants to pick one of the winners even though neither of them represent what the voter wants!

Ignatieff could be haunted by past musings on royals
By RANDY BOSWELL, Canwest News Service

Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, visit Brigus, N.L. yesterday. The town is the historic home of Captain Bob Bartlett, who led Robert Peary's expedition to the North Pole in 1909.
Photograph by: CHRIS JACKSON, GETTY IMAGES VIA REUTERS, Canwest News ServiceWhen Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff meets Prince Charles for talks next week during the future king's visit to Ottawa, the opposition leader may have to do some fast talking to explain the decidedly anti-monarchist views he expressed in 1992 at the time of Charles's separation from Princess Diana.

In the article, published originally in Britain's Observer newspaper and later reprinted in The Gazette in Montreal, Ignatieff - then a leading British-based writer and broadcaster - argued that the future of the monarchy looked "decidedly bleak" and that it was time for the British public to "regretfully but firmly decide enough is enough," and demand a republican-style government.

"We are being told to sympathize with the private grief of the tragic couple," Ignatieff wrote.

"We are being asked to believe that the horrid tabloids are to blame. Buckingham Palace and No. 10 Downing Street smoothly assure us that the couple's private misery need have no constitutional implications.

"Enough of this nonsense. The Royal Family is not doing its job."

Ignatieff's 17-year-old thoughts on the subject of the monarchy arise in the midst of an 11-day, cross-Canada trip by Prince Charles and his second wife, Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall.

The couple's itinerary includes a brief visit with Ignatieff on Nov. 10 during a three-day stop in Ottawa, the last leg of the royal visit.

But the royal visit also coincides with the H1N1 crisis, and Ignatieff spokesman Mike O'Shaughnessy told Canwest News Service that problems with the national vaccination program - not the state of Canada's constitutional monarchy - are the Liberal leader's priority at the moment.

"The leader is focused on the issue of H1N1," the spokes-man stated. "Right now, Canadians are worried about lines for flu shots, not lines of succession. This is not an issue Canadians are focused on."

A prolific writer and distinguished academic before announcing his bid to become a Liberal MP in November 2005, Ignatieff's opinions from his pre-politics career have occasionally sparked controversy - most notably, his statements in support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

But his published views on Prince Charles at a time when the heir apparent's marriage was falling apart in full public view were strikingly blunt.

"Listening to the separation announcement, I found myself wondering exactly why this shambles was so magically preferable to an elected presidency," Ignatieff wrote at the time.

"Dignity, authority and respect - all the qualities peeling away from the monarchy by the hour - are there to behold in the distinguished figure of Richard von Weizsacker, Germany's president. He has even used his office to speak for the German liberal conscience. Could someone tell me why the current speaker of the British House of Commons could not do just as well? At least she has no family we would have to endure."

He railed against the "schizophrenic attitude" of the British news media and public: "One minute, the tabloid hounds are licking the royal hand, the next day they are biting it off" - a phenomenon Ignatieff described as "a rabid kind of porno-populism."

He concluded: "Now is the time for the republican tradition in Britain to find its voice again. Such respect for the monarchy as I have makes me believe they deserve a more honourable opponent than rabid porno-populism."

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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