Ignatieff, a working-class hero?

Michael Ignatieff recalls his time as a freelance writer with a particular romanticism

Ignatieff, a working-class hero?

Adrian Wyld/CP

In a new Liberal party video, Michael Ignatieff recalls his time as a freelance writer with a particular romanticism. “I lived without a safety net,” he says, explaining that his life was “almost” like that of a “small business person.” This working-class claim from a world-renowned academic mirrors something Stephen Harper, a political player for most of his adult life, said during the 2008 election. In promising new benefits for the self-employed, Harper recalled how he had run a “medium-sized business”—a reference to his time with the National Citizens Coalition, a conservative advocacy group.

Both seem eager to relate to one of the current icons of political discourse: the hard-working small business owner. The authenticity of these claims is debatable. “There are some parallels,” says Dan Kelly, a senior vice-president with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. “The difference is, neither, I don’t think, has been in a situation where they’ve put their life savings into a project and that they may lose everything if that endeavour is not successful.” But the appeal is perhaps irresistible. Amid tales of greedy corporations, downsized citizens and powerless governments, the entrepreneur is a dynamic, but responsible, working-class hero.

What’s more, the values and concerns of small business owners seem to match wider desires for fiscal responsibility in the population at large, and may foretell the way forward for government. Indeed, if self-sufficiency and “living within one’s means” define public administration over the next few years, all politicians may style themselves, if only in spirit, as small business owners. “A lot of the messages that entrepreneurs have been pushing for years,” says Kelly, “are starting to resonate.”


Ignatieff, a working-class hero?

  1. This probably sums up Michael Ignatieff pretty well – "I was like a small business owner, but I didn't face any personal risk." You could probably repeat that for his stance on the Iraq war or his current adventures in politics. Mr. Harper's statement is more defensible – he just said it was like running a small business, not like owning one. He basically said he was the office manager of a small concern. Perfect experience for Prime Minister of Canada.

  2. Ignatieff believes producing videos where he talks about himself doesn't seem to understand that this is considered narcissistic. The same in his speeches.
    He keeps talking about himself. This is not going to win over the majority of Canadians who he needs if his party is going to win the next election.

    • The strategy is good but he needs to be careful about he is talking about, this particular comment is silly, he can't talk like that because he would never is going to be seen as a regular Canadian (and it has nothing to do with him be out of the country, is his family legacy and upbringing)

      • I am betting he will replay this old script on his stump speeches. He will add deficits and the three P photo ops, prisons and planes. He will play the game of fear again of Canada being destroyed if Liberals don't win power in the next election.

        The Liberals' use of scare tactics now indicates they are both scared themselves and running on empty — just like the current federal Liberals, who are trying to get back into government by scaring Canadians about their Conservative opponent. It worked for Jean Chrétien only because the Conservatives were divided. Once they united, the Liberal secret weapon became more of a paintball gun. It didn't work for Stéphane Dion, it's not working for Michael Ignatieff and it's not going to work for McGuinty. http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/ahttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQhunwzaBaw

        [youtube MQhunwzaBaw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQhunwzaBaw youtube]

        • His party is starting to look desperate, needs to slow down and refocus, he has a good chance but they need to be smart!

          • Ken Dryden thinks it has been longer.
            "the federal Liberal party, which he says was bereft of ideas and direction by the time Stephen Harper's Conservatives won the 2006 election."

            He states the highlight was the thinkers conference in Montreal was the highpoint.

            I am a partisan Conservative today but have no difficulty in pointing our errors on my team or theirs. They have replayed the Dion game of being critical, making threats and not showing up to vote against the policy.

            Canadians are not stupid, we know we did not suffer the losses as other developed economies. We also understand as an export economy as trade improves with our partners so will our economy.

            The NDP have never supported a trade deal. Liberals have been critical of the US, stoking anti-American sentiment when they were in power.

            Ignatieff held praise for the American exceptionalism in 2005 and blamed Liberalism. He changed his tune now that he joined politics. He joined the wrong party and dumbed down his ideas to become a Liberal again.

          • Ignatieff, has a long way to go and what most Canadians get is that he doesn't have an strategy period, it's like a guessing game, see if this next thing I say works plus that he really isn't the one with this ideas, he is getting advice, and nobody wants a leader like that.

    • Obviously, he has to talk about himself. What planet did you infest before you came to Earth? People have complained that they don't know enough about him. Now he's giving them what he wants. ~ rolleyes ~

      • Everything he says makes him sound like an elitist. He is trying to pretend he is something that he is not….an ordinary hard working Canadian. He has no idea what a working Canadians' concerns are or what they need. His whole professional life has been about him and his wants and needs. Of course like the good Liberal that you are you resort to name calling. Get stuffed.

      • That's obvious but they are different ways to address it and sell it and so far it isn't working so focus on another strategy, the videos are a good idea, the contents not so much.

  3. There's room at the top they are telling you still,
    But first you must learn how to smile as you kill,
    If you want to be like the folks on the hill,
    A working class hero is something to be.
    A working class hero is something to be.
    If you want to be a hero well just follow me,
    If you want to be a hero well just follow me.

  4. Hate politics are all that man serves up.

  5. This is not about wealth, I was clear I was talking about his family legacy, he is not ordinary in a way that most of us are, having a very rich family history, so most canadians can't relate to that.

    And the Tories spin has worked because he can't connect, he is looking desperate now, he needs a smarter campaign, to win people over.

    • Re the definition of wealthy, I recall that former BC Premier Glenn Clark mused during an election campaign in the 90s that "wealthy" meant anyone who earned over $60,000 a year. Of course, Clark was stating this as a justification for taxing the hell out of anyone who earned over $60,000 a year, so go figure . . .

      • In Calgary, if you make 60,000 a year you are just making it, I guess that's why Clark is a FORMER Premier!

  6. If Michael Ignatieff, a former university professor, can convince everybody that he's a working class hero, I'll eat my cap and gown.

    • Would you like salt and pepper with that, It is a very noble profession but he is not ordinary university professor!

  7. Has anybody ever responded to the "elitist" charge by saying:

    "Yes, I'm an elite. We are talking about the most important job in the country here, so I don't apologize for having a strong grounding in public policy and a good education. Does this mean I don't understand the concerns of ordinary Canadians? It does. However, I submit to you that no candidate has personally experienced the unique array of difficulties faced by every single resident of this vast, diverse country. Making such a claim cheapens the hardships and challenges we all face. I will govern based on reason and best practices, and not the presumption that my experiences mirror those of everybody else because I believe that the primary job of the Prime Minister is governing, not counseling. If you disagree, feel free to elect my opponent."

  8. The reason his party is starting to look desperate is because they are desperate.

    The realistic political question over the last two years has been whether Harper will or will not get a majority.

    No one is seriously considering Iggy as the next PM, just the guy who can limit Harper to a minority. Not the roll Iggy signed up for when he left his Ivy League perch.

  9. I believe he will gain more followers if he stop making so many promises for us to pay later. His campaign of "Canada is rich'so we do these and should give more of these" just make him look more like a buffoon than a past professor, let alone a hero.