Ignatieff ignites a firestorm in Canadian elections
Check out Cyber Cossack for some good links and a rundown on an interesting firestorm brewing in Canadian politics. It seems that one liberal candidate has had some incredibly prejudiced and ugly things to say about Ukrainians, not a smart move in a country that has lots of Ukrainian voters and where they are very organized. His nomination over the heads of other potential nominees has Ukrainians crying "foul". I'll be back later with some more in depth stuff on this curious character who also writes for - who else - the New York Times. Thanks to the Cyber Cossack for the heads-up.
Here are just a few quotes from Mr. Ignatieff from his 1993 book "Blood and Belonging":
"My difficulty in taking Ukraine seriously goes deeper than just my cosmopolitan suspicion of nationalists everywhere. Somewhere inside I'm also what Ukrainians would call a great Russian and there is just a trace of old Russian disdain for these little Russians. "
"From my childhood, I remember expatriate Ukrainians nationalists demonstrating in the snow outside performances by the Bolshoi Ballet in Tronto. 'Free the captive nations!' they chanted.In 1960, they seemed strange and pathetic, chanting in the snow, haranguing people who just wanted to see ballet and to hell with poltiics. They seemed fanatical, too, unreasonable. Hadn't they looked at the map? How did they think that Ukraine could ever be free?"
In an interview Mr. Ignatieff describes Ukrainian culture as "embroidered peasant shirts, the nasal whine of ethnic instruments, phony Cossacks in cloaks and boots."
Wow -- now THERE's a liberal for ya!
Update: Lubomyr Luciuk, director of research for the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association and professor of political geography at The Royal Military College of Canada takes Ignatieff to task. It's such a nuisance when the peasants in embroidered shirts get ideas above their station and actually get the right to vote and speak, instead of bowing their heads to the Russian aristocracy as they make their way to see the glories of the Bolshoi. Ignatieff is descended from Russian aristocracy, explaining his elitist attitudes, I guess. I confess I have several embroidered blouses -- they are beautiful. This is from the Ottowa Citizen
Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff thought people like my parents were "strange and pathetic" because, in the 1960s, they would gather in protest, even in the snow, "haranguing people" who just wanted to see the Bolshoi ballet, and "to hell with the politics."
He wondered how they thought Ukraine could ever be free. Hadn't these folks bothered to check a map? Didn't they know Ukraine had "been part of Russia for centuries?" And why wouldn't they accept that, "obviously," Kyiv was the "birthplace of Russian national identity?"
When, "unbelievably," that city became the capital of a "new" and independent state, he confessed to having "difficulty in taking Ukraine seriously" because, as a "Great Russian" he held "just a trace of old Russian disdain for these 'little Russians'," meaning Ukrainians. The thought of their independence conjured up only "images of embroidered peasant shirts, the nasal whine of ethnic instruments, phoney Cossacks in cloaks and boots, nasty anti-Semites."
I confess that I have an embroidered Ukrainian shirt, several in fact, which my mother hand-made for me, and which I am proud to wear. I share other kindred, albeit more intellectual, prejudices with Mr. Ignatieff, who probably thinks he is my "elder brother." So I get a laugh when reading about those puffed up White Russian emigres -- with their pro-fascist sentiments and stunted ideas about the rights of other nations to self-determination -- who fittingly ended up as so many Grand-Duke-Such-and-Such taxi cab drivers in Paris, or Princess-This-and-Thats serving tables in Harbin dancing halls. They were the flotsam of the failed Tsarist regime, pretenders and pogromchiks, most of them shovelled into the dustbin of history during the interwar period.
One of their own (and yes he was a count, what else), Vladimir Kokovtsov, described his fellow exiles in 1930 as an admixture of "nostalgia, fatalism, balalaikas, lugubrious songs of the Volga, a crimson shirt [and] frenzied dance."
Of course, some took longer to accept their fates than others. The counts Ignatieff, for example, reportedly held forth in Toronto libraries in the mid-1930s, blustering on about Russia Yesterday, Russia Today.
But there's the rub. Mr. Ignatieff wants to play a role on the floor of the House of Commons. He says he is a Liberal, one of our indigenous brand of Reds. He regards them, and they like to boast of it too, as the only legitimate governing party of Canada, rather like those other party members used to claim in Mother Russia, after they chucked out their Dukes and Dames, those they didn't butcher.
[...]And we checked the map. Ukraine has regained its place in Europe, something we'll wager tsarist Russia never will. That happened, in part, because "strange and pathetic" people, like our parents, stood in the snow and called for the freedom of the captive nations instead of going inside to get warm and gawk at ballerinas.
[...]They wanted nothing to do with those who called them Little, or Russians, nor would they ever vote for anyone who thinks they once were, are now, or ever will be.
Update:Here's some more:
The federal Liberal party clearly wants Michael Ignatieff, the He-ManAnd this:
of Harvard, to be its candidate in Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Two others tried to file their papers by the short deadline the party
imposed after the incumbent suddenly bowed out; they had to slip their
documents under a locked office door.
Dissident Liberals plan to go ahead with a nomination meeting tonight in
Etobicoke-Lakeshore despite the fact the party has already acclaimed Michael Ignatieff.
Borys Wrzesnewskyj, Liberal MP for the next-door riding of
Etobicoke-Centre, questioned the process by which Ignatieff became the candidate.
"Does he deserve to win? There wasn't a nomination process," he said.
And finally -- he can always go back to Harvard where being liberal means never having to say you are sorry and never having to mingle with the peasants. Somehow I think that suits him more, don't you?
Harvard professor and human rights expert Michael G. Ignatieff announced last Friday that he will run for Canadian Parliament as a Liberal candidate, ending the speculation about his political future that began when he took a Canadian visiting professorship this September.
Ignatieff took a leave of absence from his post as director of the Kennedy School of Government’s Carr Center for Human Rights and professor of public policy earlier this year to return as a visiting professor to the University of Toronto, where he completed his undergraduate studies.
Ignatieff also said that he has been associated with the Liberal Party since his youth.
“He comes from an elite Canadian family; his father in particular was very influential in Canadian politics,” Albo said, adding that with this name recognition, Ignatieff has always enjoyed wide coverage in the Canadian media.
“If I am not elected, I imagine that I will ask Harvard to let me back,” Ignatieff said. “I love teaching here, and I hope I’ll be back in some shape or form.”
[...]In his campaign, Ignatieff said he plans to focus on encouraging national unity and multiculturalism.
“I want to do my bit to bring Chinese Canadians, Ukrainian Canadians, Indian Canadians to the top of our political system,” Ignatieff said.
Good luck with the Ukrainians, somehow I don't think they are coming on board the Ignatieff train -- in fact, they've managed to get to the top of the Canadian political system all on their lonesome, without Count Ignatieff's help. As a matter of fact, two such candidates had planned to run, but were ignored by the party in preference for Mr. Ignatieff who, typical of his species, jumped the line because of his elite connections. Some things never change.