And the saviour was taken over by PR hacks

I wrote several columns in admiration. His aides could read, so a meeting was arranged.


And the saviour was taken over by PR hacks

It was 2005 when the word started to circulate in the right Liberal circles. All their troubles would be soon over. A saviour was about to appear from abroad. It seemed so promising, almost so miraculous.

After nearly 30 years away from his native Canada, the storied Michael Ignatieff was to favour us with his presence. And what a presence. Father a renowned Canadian diplomat internationally. Grandfather a member of the cabinet of the last Russian czar.

More? Star graduate of Harvard, richest university in the world. Star graduate of Oxford. Author of 14 books. Winner of the Governor General’s Award for his family memoir. Owner of seven honorary doctoral degrees. And, even more intriguing, while at the University of Toronto the roommate and rumoured best friend of one Bob Rae, later, as we know, a five-year NDP premier of mighty Ontario. When Rae fell ill with depression as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Ignatieff nursed him back to health.

The saviour was scheduled to address the annual convention of the Liberal Party of Canada in Ottawa. I happened to be located in an aisle chair and before the soaring oratory was half-over, three different types—a press gallery veteran, a senator and a lobbyist—came over to whisper: “What seat do you think he’s going to run in?”

I wrote several columns in admiration (considering the alternatives) and apparently he had aides who could read and so a lunch was arranged. He sat down, gazed at my chest and exclaimed, “NICE TIE!” Two weeks later, at a Harvard reunion dinner in Toronto, I was at his table and he gazed at the chest of the chap next to me and exclaimed, “NICE TIE!” Three weeks later, my wife and I were at the storied Politics and the Pen dinner in Ottawa and he gazed at the blazer on her chest and exclaimed, “NICE BUTTONS!”

Oh dear, I thought. The stiff academic, loosed into the unfamiliar political world, had been taken over by the public relations flacks, hired by the party to teach him how to talk to the common folk, keeping Latin and Shakespeare to the rear.

And then there was the problem of a riding for the anointed one. It was assumed Toronto-Rosedale, where all the toffs, their butlers and cooks live, would be the appropriate soft landing. If not there, St. Paul’s, another Grit home with all the nice lawns. Strangely enough, as potential rivals for the leadership sensed the threat, the lofty academic with all those central Toronto credentials was forced to retreat to the rather humiliating geography of Etobicoke-Lakeside, out on the fringes of the suburbs.

Apparently Iggy was very hard to love. One of the Toronto papers printed a letter to the editor, from a woman who admitted she was a Liberal but wrote that “every time I see Michael Ignatieff smiling in print or on television, it reminds me of what the Duke of Wellington said after reviewing his troops before the Battle of Waterloo: ‘I don’t know what they are going to do to the French, but they scare the hell out of me!’ ”

And then there was the embarrassing leadership convention of 2006, at which all the planning for the return home was aimed. And Mr. Dithers, Paul Martin, would finally be gone. Candidates were Iggy, the alleged best friend Rae, promising young Gerard Kennedy and an unknown Quebec professor by the name of Stéphane Dion. Such friends were Iggy and Bobby that neither one would support the other, Kennedy at the last vote jumped to Dion, thus giving Liberals the worst excuse for a politician ever to appear since Donald Duck.

Dion fumbled on, the two supposed best friends equally silent, all of us assuming they would resolve their obvious dilemma and determine which of the two would be best to replace him. Such silly optimism. The Stephen Harperites, agog with glee at the inept performance of the goofy Opposition leader, watched with equal interest the two ex-roomies, still jockeying for the head spot. The arrogance of the Tories—seeing no united front against them—led of course to that insane late-2008 budget that forced Harper to kill Parliament for two months or lose his job.

The doomed goofy one, as we know, arranged his final suicide with the haywire “coalition” pact with the ever-desperate Jack Layton and—speaking of suicide—the grim Gilles Duceppe, whose avowed aim is to break up Canada. Meaning whoever succeeded Dion would be dead for the Liberals in the four western provinces. Thanks, goofus.

And so, with blood already on the floor, Ignatieff finally got serious about the alleged friendship and dispatched Rae to the ashcan by refusing to go along with a national party vote on the leadership, relying only on his caucus support to put in the dagger. Such is friendship.

Just one thing, Mike (does anyone call you Mike?) In future, junk the tie gig.


And the saviour was taken over by PR hacks

  1. Ignatieff is not a graduate of Oxford.

  2. Is that all Foth’s got? All that over a tie comment?

    Why’d Foth get overlooked for Senate? If Duffy can make it, surely AF should be a shoe-in.

  3. Yes actually, more than 1 or even 2 inaccuracies… He lived in the US for signifiacntly longer than 30 years – I guess the Americans are right about their country being the best: where else can you grow up to become the leader of the CANADIAN opposition… Not to mention the undemocratic nature of his parrachuting into his riding – pissing off those delagates that quaintly believed that representatives should be chosen by a vote. And no need for a vote for new leader of the Liberals either… Who needs voting in a democracy? Or even a constitutional monarchy

    • Ah, he lived in the US between 4 and 5 years – the rest in Britain and back and forth to Canada.

      But hey, don’t let a Iggy rant get in the way of truth.

    • jomeaux is wrong in his comment. In fact, Iggy spent most of his time out of Canada in the UK, where he was a well know academic, commentator, writer and intellectual. Give him a break – he’s the best Liberal leader in a long time and he deserves a chance to show if he can lead.

  4. No surprises here, Bill #44 has been signed, sealed and delivered courtesy of the Liberals.
    Business as usual and Jack and Gilles and Danny Williams are now whining again about everything.
    As for the Cons reporting updates as requested by the Liberals – This would not be a hot ticket item and can be taken with a grain of salt.
    What the heck did people expect? The only other scenerio would have been that the GG would have sent Canadians to an election as opposed to a coalition group and the obvious outcome would have been a Conservative majority.
    Mr. Ignatieff knows which side his bread is buttered on.

  5. Budget ($85-100Bn Boondoogle) needs a FREE VOTE.

    Every party is taking a media position in 180degree opposition to their platform.


    If an Election ensues …. so be it

    see blog for cost comparisons ($350mill election =1.2% of $30Billion, just 4 months interest cost))
    and election worker job-creation scheme

  6. Just another spin move against PMSH. When will the political guessers understand how little they know or possibly they reconize what they are allowed to say. Bringing Dr. Foth out of the trash heap for a round about way of saying PMSH made a mistake . The highlighting to the Taxpayers of their unrecognized support of the corrupt ; the unknowing; and the “I want to leave if it won’t hurt” federal political parties will not be easily forgotten.

  7. What is the point of this drivel? There is nothing here but one man’s thoughts about another man. Completely absent of substance and impoverished of insight, this reads like Fotheringham desperately trying to tell the world he once had lunch with someone important. I love Maclean’s, but c’mon, this was not worthy of publication in print or on the web.

  8. 1964 just about pegs you. Crypto commie press! Good lord! Are you channeling Mcarthy?

  9. “Kennedy at the last vote jumped to Dion, thus giving Liberals the worst excuse for a politician ever to appear since Donald Duck.”

    And instead Canadians got Daffy Duck not once but believe it “Twice”

    Wonder how much is paid to people to write about absolute junk. Driveling, debasing utter junk!

  10. The riding is Etobicoke-Lakeshore, not Etobicoke Lakeside.

    And this riding is not “out on the fringes of the suburbs.”

  11. Why stand afar hiding in the times of trouble? The wicked pride does persecute the poor let them be taken in the devices that they have imagined. The wicked boast of the desires of their heart that abhorent and lessen the covenant. Wicked through the pride of their countenance, seeking not the Will of God or His thoughts. Their ways are grievous, their judgments far above the truth. They say “I shall not be moved never by the adversary.” Their mouth full of cursing, deceit and fraud. Mischief and vanity sit in the congregations lurking secretly, misleading the poor in the Word. They lie in wait to catch then draw into the net. They crouch humbly the fall. They say,”God has not gotten paise the Lord”, “Arise Lord forget not your children Father” Do you contemn God you that say repented,IHS or repentance is not required with IHS?Why is there no need to name your sins cause God knows them and you can not remember all of them? God knows not you or your sins because you are not light. So now you change repentance to just sayng, “forgive our sins?” Admitting sin one to another instead of in prayer to God? Think you have received forgiveness? Behelding a mischievous spirit to requite with your soul. The poor commit their soul, helpers of the faithless. Break out of the arms of the wicked, seek out righteousness, find Yahweh for the heathen perish out of His land. Yahweh has heard now you desire humbly, receive repented, IHS, prepare your heart, cause your ear to hear and judge the teaching that Earth may no longer oppress you.

  12. The Messenger – what a wacko