Thursday, March 30, 2006

Michael Ignatieff: Someone To Take Seriously

During World War II, my mother worked in London with the French Resistance. One of her closest friends was a young Canadian who parachuted into France in 1943 to fight fascism. His name was Frank Pickersgill. He was captured by the Nazis and died under torture in Buchenwald. He died so that other men and women could live in freedom.

At our best, we are that kind of people.

. . .Today, we are concerned about our soldiers in Afghanistan. So we should be. But service in Afghanistan is in the best traditions of our people. From Vimy Ridge to Juneau Beach, from Rwanda to Bosnia, we have earned our place in the world of nations by service and sacrifice.


I've been to Afghanistan, once when the Taliban were in power and once since then. I've got faith in the Afghans who are pushing their country out of the ditch. It's good that Canadians are putting their shoulders to the wheel to help them. . .

I saw it clearly in eastern Croatia in 1992. I had just crossed a UN check point and had been taken prisoner by a half a dozen armed men high on alcohol and ethnic nationalism. A young UN peacekeeper arrived, as I was being bundled away. He cocked his M 16 and said, 'We'll do this my way.'


And they did.

That young soldier was from Moncton, New Brunswick.

I saw my country clearly watching a policewoman escort frightened families to and fro across a mined no-man's land in another part of Yugoslavia. When I asked her why she was doing dangerous work in a foreign country she said, with a smile, 'It beats writing traffic tickets in Saskatoon.'

. . .So this is my Canada and these are my Canadians. We are serious people. I've tried to be a serious person. Being serious means sticking to your convictions. I went to Iraq in 1992 and saw what Saddam Hussein had done to the Kurds and the Shia. I decided then and there that I'd stand with them whatever happened. I've stuck with them ever since. Whatever mistakes the Americans have made, one day Iraqis will create a decent society. When that day comes, Canadians should be there to help because their struggle is ours, too.

. . . In understanding Canada's place in the world, we need to think of ourselves not just as defenders of our own sovereignty, but as stewards of the global commons.

From 'the responsibility to protect' to 'human security', Canada has been a leader in putting good ideas into circulation and then getting them accepted into practice. Without us, there wouldn't be an International Criminal Court, and without us, no Land Mines Ban. . .

And that's just Iggy the Internationalist. You should read the nationalist bits, and the federalist bits, and the serious environmentalist bits. Say whatever you like, but there are three things no one can deny from reading the text of Ignatieff's speech in Ottawa last night.

First, the Liberal Party has had no one of this calibre in a generation.

Second, in any debate, anytime, anyplace, Ignatieff would eat Stephen Harper alive.

Third, against any claim Jack Layton's New Democrats might make upon a bold and progressive vision for Canada, what Ignatieff has just said is this:

I see you. And I raise you.

7 Comments:

Blogger kid A said...

First - the Liberal Party has shown itself to be nothing other than the more moderate face of the one party corporate dictatorship of which we live under, while it plays it's role in a US style two party system, which is nothing more than political theatre. Mr. Emerson is a shining example of this, as he went from saying that Mr. Harper would destroy Canada, to saying he saw no difference in the two parties and would gladly have run for either. This in a matter of two weeks.

Second - I would eat Stephen Harper alive in any debate, any time. Not so much because of my own abilities, as much as it is quite difficult to defend the indefensible (ie: wars of agression, torture, etc). The truth is a powerful thing. This explains why it is so carefully avoided in so much of the mainstream media.

Third - How is supporting the
neo-con, imperialist, militaristic, fascist platform, a bold and progressive vision for Canada?
If Jack Layton can't match that kind of fresh thinking then he is in trouble. And sadly so are we.

7:28 AM  
Blogger Nav said...

Excellent post. Let's hope mediocrity doesn't prevail, and that instead we end up with Ignatieff as the Liberal leader.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Bruce Serafin said...

A great post, Terry. Let's hope that Ignatieff has the thick skin he's gonna need to be useful for our country.

It excited me to read his speech.

And hey, Kid a: you underestimate Stephen Harper, just like lefties 20 years ago underestimated Preston Manning. A big mistake. You should respect your opponents, then you have a chance of beating them.

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