Michael Ignatieff: Canadian Candidate Struggles to Prove His Canadianness

By Elash, Anita | The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2011 | Go to article overview

Michael Ignatieff: Canadian Candidate Struggles to Prove His Canadianness


Elash, Anita, The Christian Science Monitor


Michael Ignatieff, the Liberal Party candidate in Canada's May 2 election, lags far behind in the polls. His main problem: He spent too much time south of the border.

For a man who has spent most of his adult life traveling the inner circles of British and American intelligentsia, Michael Ignatieff seems remarkably comfortable with the working class crowd that has gathered in a renovated train station in Canada's steel manufacturing capital to meet him.

With the obligatory handshaking and baby-kissing out of the way, Canada's Liberal Party leader takes his place at the front of the room, tucks his open-collar shirt loosely into his pants, and walks the audience through his party's platform, emphasizing middle class concerns such as education and money to care for elderly parents at home. Then he allows his patrician face to broaden into a smile and brings the house down with a child's political joke about why the chicken crossed the road.

"He did it to avoid a debate," Mr. Ignatieff says, taking a swipe at sitting Prime Minister Stephen Harper's refusal to meet him one- on-one in a televised debate.

Six years after leaving his post as the influential and respected head of Harvard's Carr Centre for Human Rights, Canadian-born Ignatieff is finally getting a chance at the job he came home for - he is running to become Canada's next prime minister.

But for all his ease in front of party supporters in places like Hamilton, Ignatieff is a long way from convincing Canadians his impeccable international credentials qualify him to lead the country. And he doesn't have much more time to make his case as Canadians vote on May 2.

'The United States way of thinking'

Dennis McLaren, a retired steelworker who came to the rally to protest the low level of his pension benefits, expresses a widespread view of the Liberal leader.

"He's a carpetbagger. He drops from state to state. He's come up from Harvard and Princeton, and now he's up here in Canada. He's been out of the country for 30 years and now he's up here in Canada because he's fed up with being a professor down there," he said. "And what is he going to do for the country? Who knows. Maybe 30 years away is too long. Maybe he's got the United States way of thinking."

Polls reflect that sentiment. They show that although Ignatieff's centrist Liberal Party, ranks second in popularity, just 10 points behind the governing center-right Conservatives, he sits a distant third in a ranking of candidates' trustworthiness and leadership skills.

Mr. Harper is widely criticized for his autocratic nature and is facing serious questions about whether he misled parliament about government spending. But daily voter tracking by Nanos Research gives him an approval rating of 122.8. Jack Layton, who leads a party that is often considered a marginal force in Canadian politics, the socialist National Democratic Party, gets a rating of 57.3. Ignatieff comes in with 52.7 points and has only marginally improved his status since the start of the campaign.

His main problem, says pollster Nik Nanos, is that like the demonstrators outside the Hamilton rally, Canadians see Ignatieff as unpatriotic and suspect his motives for returning to Canada after spending more than 30 years making his name abroad.

"His personal journey has prepared him to be a very good candidate for Prime Minister, but the problem is few Canadians will ever see Mr. Ignatieff up close," says Mr. Nanos, whose Nanos Research company tracks daily changes in voter sentiment. "The risk is seen as, 'He's been out of the country for a long time. What does he understand about Canada?' That could be a parochial view, but it's the view many people have."

Expatriate thinker to rookie politician

Many Liberals viewed Ignatieff's return to Canada six years ago as a long overdue chance for salvation. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Michael Ignatieff: Canadian Candidate Struggles to Prove His Canadianness
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.