He is of everywhere - Macleans.ca

He is of everywhere


Michael Ignatieff, speaking to a town hall in Halifax, Jan. 8. I have the unique distinction of being probably the only Canadian in the world who has two members of his family who both wrote biographies of Nova Scotia’s greatest man, Joe Howe. How about that? It’s a true story. My great grandfather wrote a biography of Joe Howe, whose statue is maybe 400 yards away. And my grandfather wrote a biography. I don’t know how they ended up doing that, but they did. So Joe Howe’s been a hero all my life. And Joe Howe said a great thing, which we should remember and should be above the doors of Parliament. “The only questions I ask myself are: What is right? What is just? And what is for the public good?” And that’s what we have to talk about this afternoon.

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to the Empire Club and Canadian Club in Toronto, Jan. 23. The Empire Club and the Canadian Club are institutions that have always mattered to my family. My great-grandfather—a proud New Brunswicker named George Parkin—spoke to the club. My grandfather—a Russian émigré named Paul Ignatieff—spoke to this club. My Dad spoke to this club in 1969. He said then: “Those to whom this opportunity is offered, I realize, have to be brilliant, or original, or both. Since there is difficulty in being brilliant when you are trying to be original, and being original when you are trying to be brilliant, I shall merely try to be informative.” 

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to a town hall in Orillia, Feb. 7. This town will be forever associated with Stephen Leacock. Just a little story … My grandfather was a school teacher and he taught school with Stephen Leacock. They were personal friends.

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, tonight. “I am delighted to be back in the City of Champions. In 1872, my great-great-grandfather, the Reverend George Grant, joined his lifelong friend, Sir Sandford Fleming, in travelling across Canada to survey a route for the transcontinental railroad. After arriving in Edmonton, my great-great-grandfather wrote: “Looking fairly at all the facts, admitting all the difficulties, and what country has not its own drawbacks, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that we have a great and fertile North-west … capable of containing a population of millions. It is a fair land; rich in furs and fish, in treasures of the forest, the field, and the mine; seamed by navigable rivers, interlaced by numerous creeks, and beautified by a thousand lakes; broken by swelling uplands, wooded hill-sides and bold ridges … The air is pure, dry and bracing all year round.” He put those words into a book, Ocean to Ocean, which provided many Canadians with their first glimpse of the future province of Alberta. 


He is of everywhere

  1. What on earth is Ignatieff going to come up with by the time he hits the coast. Was his gg grandpa on Vancouver’s Discovery, and was he also responsible for mapping the BC coast?
    Seriously, Michael very smart to remind folks everywhere you go, that while you may not have spent much time in this country recently, you do in fact have roots here that are deep and compelling.

    • while you may not have spent much time in this country recently

      That’s a bit of an understatement.

      • Ah, the Tory talking pts have arrived at last i see! :)
        On the plus side he couldn’t have had much to do with addscam now, could he?

        • Besides, understatement is probably the wisest way to spin Iggy, don’t you think?

          • I actually like Iggy quite a bit. Still, I think his prolonged absence from Canada is a legitimate topic of discussion. In many other countries, a thirty-year absence would be a major obstacle for a candidate aspiring to the highest office in the land.

          • Legitimate? I suppose so. As is Sh’s travels through America spreading the message of love of his native land everywhere he went! Start yr spin war engines ladies and gents!
            Personlly, i think it’s silly, SH did have a right to speak about the Canada he doesn’t like, odious though i find it. – however he could have made his pt adequately enough here. And Iggy’s accomplishments speak for themselves, we should be proud of him. His choices in no way reflect on his love of country, to suggest otherwise without evidence is adsurd.
            That said this is politics and everyone should know these guys check their scruples in at the door! The really, really mind boogling thing about this is that later, when the dust has settled, SH for instance will stand up at some function and proclaim his admiration for Iggy’s many accomplishments while abroad, and Iggy will be sitting in the audience blithely lapping it all up , with a silver spoon of course.
            Ever feel you’re being played for a fool at all?

  2. How wonderful to have such august ancestry, and to have taken the time to study it.

      • “And Atlantic Canada ref: [You Tube link]”

        For a guy that wants so badly to run this country the public disdain that Harper has shown for Canada and Canadians – in part and in toto – begs the question; what-the-hell would a hypocrite like this do to the nation were he to accidentally trip into majority territory in Parliament?
        Atlantic Canada

        “A culture of defeat…” — Stephen Harper, describing the Atlantic Provinces, May 2001.

        July 6, 2007:

        Yesterday’s funding announcement in Halifax by Stephen Harper makes past comments on pork-barrel politics timely. – ed

        “A culture of defeat…” — Stephen Harper, describing the Atlantic Provinces, May 2001

        “There is a dependence in the region that breeds a culture of defeatism,” (CBC News, May 30, 2002)

        “I think in Atlantic Canada, because of what happened in the decades following Confederation, there is a culture of defeat that we have to overcome… Atlantic Canada’s culture of defeat will be hard to overcome as long as Atlantic Canada is actually physically trailing the rest of the country.” (New Brunswick Telegraph Journal, May 29, 2002)

        “There’s unfortunately a view of too many people in Atlantic Canada that it’s only through government favours that there’s going to be economic progress, or that’s what you look to… That kind of can’t-do attitude is a problem in this country but it’s obviously more serious in regions that have had have-not status for a long time.” (Toronto Sun, May 31, 2002)

        “I’ve taken my position, and frankly it’s the same position that I took all through the [Alliance] leadership race. I delivered [speeches] everywhere I went, including in the Maritime provinces on several occasions, about the spirit of defeatism in the country and what drives it and how we have to address it.” (National Post, May 31, 2002)

        All quotes from:


  3. Cloud politics.

    • Isn’t it all? I ‘m not really a fan of Ignatieff, stil when i take a look across the aisle?

  4. Ignatieff is the great great grandson of George Grant?

    Well, as a proud Queen’s alum I guess that settles it. I’m voting Liberal next election.


    • Glad that’s settled. : )

      • Rest assured tongue was planted firmly in cheek.

  5. Staring at the dusted, mottled brush that would be come Berlin, Ont (later to be renamed Kitchener during the War to End All Wars), Stephen Harper’s Great grandfather Aldous Harper frumped: “Great horny-toadies, what are you doing upside-downy?!”

  6. … or maybe that was Harper’s great-uncle, Yosemite Sam…

    • Or:
      SH’s great grand-papy Horatio Harper was the first known man to count all those railway ties, from coast to coast.
      Meanwhile just outside Winnipeg :
      ” Dag nab it, now i’m gonna hev tu start all over agin”!

      • Orer:
        SH’s GG Grandpa Hamish Harper is studiously working on his – and it turns out his g.g. grandsons -masterpiece:’ A history of hockey in the Dominion [ later dropped ] of Canada’.
        “Aye, it was a dark and stormy night…”

        • I feel a song coming on:
          Out on the turbulent troubled troughs of the north atlantic, somewhere off Newfoundland in an area ominously known as ice-berg alley the doomed liner ss Titanic sails blithely on towards her date with destiny. On board chief petty officer Hubert Hartley Harper – great great uncle of Canada’s as yet unborn PM Stephen J Harper – addresses the anxious passengers:
          “Ladies and Gentlemen, this ship is built to withstand a collision with an ice-berg. Look, frankly i predict the chances of us encountering one are about as likely as a financial crisis bankrupting the whole world in…say… oh i don’t know…2009. How’s that for you…now go and enjoy yourself while i return to ice-berg watch”
          Those words were to have prophetic consequences, both shortly and in the distant future.

          • “Look, frankly i predict the chances of us encountering one are about as likely as a financial crisis bankrupting the whole world in…say… oh i don’t know…2009.”

            “….and the fact of the matter is, if we were going to hit an iceberg, it would have happened by now.”

          • Wish we could edit after the fact. That would be an upgrade. lol

          • your original was the best laugh I’ve had all day.

          • It’s a slow night up in the Territories. And so in the interest of balance:
            The many contributions of the Ignatieff family to Canadian history are well known. Less well known perhaps is the less the stellar contributions of the other members of the clan.

            Grand Duke Ferdinand – moosey – Ignatieff despite valient attempts to do so was untimately unsuccessful in his attempt to cross Moose and beavers, as a bold early experiment in natural logging technology and in order to introduce much needed productivity measures into the early Nova Scotian timber industry.
            In the distant future his as yet unborn great great great nephew Michael Ignatieff, PM elect was careful not to mention this particular member of his illustrious family on his cross crountry tour.

          • Then again, archaeologists have recently unearthed the remains of the ancient Italian ancestors of Harper at Pompei. Apparently, in AD 79 Stephano Harper – the patriarch – convinced most of the family that an erupting Vesuvius was not so much a threat to run away from as an excellent opportunity to roast marshmallows….

          • Look, frankly i predict the chances of us encountering one are about as likely as a financial crisis bankrupting the whole world in…say… oh i don’t know…2009.

            kc, you got the “look, frankly” down perfectly – great attention to detail! :)

          • Thanks CR.
            Pomeii epilogue:
            A small miracle was to occur admist the smouldering wreckage of an ancient civiliization. Even while the great volcano continued to thunder, a passing Russian trader picked up a survivor of the calamity. Sibilious liberal Harper [ later to change his name] a failed mathematician and frustrated author, the last of the Harper clan was less then entirely grateful to be rescued. Captan Ignotious Igneteeth [ later to change his name] was heard to remark; ” I hope i wont come to regret this.” after being harangued by his guest so:” Look quite frankly i hold you personally responsible for this. I may have to sue”!
            Thus began a stormy relationship that was too play out far into the future.

  7. Mens’ greatness dwells in their pantaloons, not in their ancestry.

  8. Amazing how people think they can decide who’s Canadian and who’s not. Meanwhile, Harper spent his time speaking to American (Republican) think tanks running down his country.

  9. If Iggy is of everywhere, that means he is of nowhere and I think that’s a problem. I think many people like leaders to have simple life narrative they can understand and relate to.

    • No real person has a simple narrative. Id rather elect a person with history, rather than someone who dumbed it down for us simple folk.

      • Douglass

        I meant simple, as in easy to understand. Iggy’s ‘to the manor born’ background, and living abroad for 30 years while claiming to love your country, is not something most of us relate to.

        • jwl–as a member of the low-income, uneducated masses you would speak for, I can tell you that I do not find great comfort in electing someone just like me to higher office. Iggy’s ‘to the manner born’ background is not hard to understand at all. What is impressive about it, to me, is that he’s taken the time to study and appreciate those family members before him. I also think that one can love one’s country whether one lives there or not–witness the countless immigrants who still care about their original country, and the great many who return to it at the first opportunity. While I can’t personally relate, I can certainly empathize with the concept. But then, the uneducated, low-income masses wash now, too.

          And in a country as diverse as Canada, not having one specific region to inform one’s entire view of the country can only be a good thing.

          • If Ignatieff had been a consevative and living abroad for 30yrs jwl would now be singing his praise. “How dare you impugn the patriotism of such a man of stature and obvious accomplishment.”
            Do you have a lock on love of country jwl? Being abroad for so long obviously disqualifies him from the right to claim he loves his country. This from someone who supports a party whose leader cannot even bring himself to say the words! Yeesshhh !!!

          • Good for you. I am not speaking for anyone specific, not sure why you assume it’s only “low-income, uneducated masses” that will have a problem with Iggy. It’s human nature to want to relate to your leader in some way but I do not claim that it’s true for every single Canadian.

            If Iggy’s ‘to the manor born’ background is not an issue, why is Iggy and his team trying to hide it with talk of ‘school teachers’ (aka Count Pavel, Minister Of Ed to Tsar NIcholas II), barns and how he loves the smell of manure?

            If Iggy’s background isn’t an issue, I am sure there will be lots of commercials where he tells us all about his Russian aristocracy background in the get to know your leader ads or how he had to be persuaded that he would be PM before he would leave Harvard.

          • Jenn & kc

            I will tell you why I think Iggy living abroad is a major problem for him. I was born and raised in Canada, and live here now, but my father emigrated to Canada from UK when he was very young. This meant I qualified for UK passport and I decided to live in UK for years so I could see the world a bit (I also spent time in South Korea). Whenever I came back to Canada for a visit, I was astonished by how many people would take me living abroad personally and think it was an insult to Canada. And the people who had a problem with me living in foreign country were not from one specific economic, cultural or political class. I can guarantee that’s why Iggy is trying to make himself to appear just like one of ‘us’ and entirely downplaying his time abroad.

          • jwl
            Is yr hold on objective reality so tenuous? Of course Iggy’s starting to define himself. What choice does he have anyway, given that the view of him you promote is being pushed by the PMO, and have been threatening to do so, ever since he came back to this country. Ever heard of a odd little concept called self-defence? It really is a shame Dion didn’t have a better grasp of it.

          • jwl
            I’ve probably spent a similar amount of time to yrself outside this country. [ UK,Germany, Australia. ] and i’ve never once encountered this attitude. On the contrary, i’ve experienced mostly curiousity and some envy, and a fair bit of indifference but never hostility or scorn. Are you sure you live in Canada?

          • I don’t know why I found your original post so condescending, jwl. I merely did. Now that you’ve expanded your point more thoroughly, I think there’s a different problem. When people are wrong in their attitude, as those who would diss someone who moves away are, it behooves the political establishment not to give legitimacy to that wrongheaded opinion, don’t you think?

            I realize politicians are always searching for votes. I realize it is easier to go with an already held belief than to change it to one more reality-based. I certainly understand that one can’t just TELL people they are wrong and expect them to say, ‘oh, sorry’. So, slowly showing the belief to be without merit is the right thing to do, although a painful process I am sure. But then in this case we’ll have the Conservatives and other parties playing up or advocating that wrong belief. And I understand why they would do so, but I guess I would wish they’d have more integrity or respect for truth and reality.

          • “i’ve never once encountered this attitude”

            I find that interesting, kc. I was living in Victoria before I left for England and I got nothing but good wishes about my plans. I only got the odd comments when I came back for visits and I was in Ont. I wonder if it’s a geographical phenomenon? Like Toronto is centre of universe so why leave it or somesuch.

            And I am aware Iggy is trying to define himself but look at what image he’s trying to build. He’s trying to appear just like any other Canadian. If his living in UK and US wasn’t an issue, we would be hearing much more about it. And I am not claiming that this is sinister in any way because pols are always trying to build an image of themselves that might not jibe with reality.

          • Jenn

            I have two answers, one in theory and one in practice. In theory, I agree that pols should try to educate people about their wrongheadedness like you suggest.

            But in reality, I don’t believe that’s ever going to happen. I am con and believe that people are who they are and am far from convinced they can be persuaded of their pigheadedness. And what are the chances of a pol winning an election while scolding a considerable percentage of the electorate for their ignorance?

            I am also aware that it should be ‘manner’, not ‘manor’, but the correct expression wouldn’t make sense when applied to Iggy.

          • No, I can’t argue with you there. Politics is an ugly business, but one of my points was that scolding of course is not going to work.

            I guess I just wish we had leaders who would lead us for the better, not follow us for the worse. In spite of being idealistic, and in spite of my being well past old enough to know better, I find the ‘yeah well, ain’t gonna happen’ excuse something of a cop-out.

          • I’m definitely with Jenn on this one. We may be in the gutter most of the time. But they way out of it isn’t to accept that the gutter’s what we were born for so better jusy make the best of it.

        • I am a child of immigrants, who still hold citizenship with their native country as well as this one. They have lived ‘abroad’ for well over 30 years. Yet their love of country is unquestionable. I think more people understand it than you think.

  10. vs. I am writing a book about hockey .. and that’s all he has.

    Oh wait, now with 100% more photos with Obama!

    • Harper, the anti-team guy who loves hockey.

    • That’s funny. Who knew Obie could skate even?

      • He can’t. He doesn’t and hasn’t played any sport because, according to him and his biographer, his asthma.

        But asthma doesn’t stop you from pretending to write a book about sports. If you think it will get you votes.

  11. Ignatieff’s “life long hero”, Joseph Howe, was anti-confederation. His Conservative opponent, Sir Charles Tupper, brought Nova Scotia into our fine country.

    Michael Ignatieff is against confederation. If he and “his hero” had his way, Nova Scotia wouldn’t be part of Canada.

    Ignatieff: divider, not a uniter. And possibly a treasonist.

    This message has been brought to you by the Conservative Party of Canada.

    • Picky, picky, picky Olaf, who cares about confederation anyway? :)

      • of course, it’s all about Canadian empire, baby!

    • Worse still, Howe was a defender of freedom of the press.

    • But Howe helped Manitoba join Confederation.

    • Didn’t Harper used to be anti-confederation?

      I seem to remember something about a firewall…

  12. Hey Gang, FYI,

    Paul Wells is deleting every one of my comments.

    As most of you know by now, my comments were not offensive, were foul language free, absent name calling, nor were they otherwise offensive or derisive in any way.

    Sadly, it was not HOW I was saying something (ie threatening ect which is understandably delete worthy), but WHAT I was saying.

    Also sad that it is being conducted by someone who’s livlihood depends on free speech.

    • I find that hard to believe, Kody, since I’m reading one of your comments. Also, I’m surprised WordPress doesn’t have a way of banning people outright, thereby freeing up much of PWs time. I will say that I hope your assertion isn’t true, because you occasionally can be funny or spin a point in an original way. But not your free speech reliance, since this is not a democratic forum. It is Paul Wells’ blog and he gets to be the decider.

      • jenn go to the post about Mackay, folks are repsonding to me, but mine aren’t there.

        Here’s the last substantive one (I posted a couple of follow ups on the point of my being deleted afterwards):

        “Interesting that you characterize:
        – the largest and most pork laden (9000 seperate earmarks) spending increase we’ve ever witnessed in our lifetimes,
        – deficits that dwarf Bush’s hated debt spending and the largest since WWII
        -the nationalization of banks (that’s right kids, the feds now own a controlling interest in Citibank),
        -the most hostile policy towards ventur capitalism, small business and entrapaneurs [in short the entitites that actually grow the economy] ever recorded, with simultaineous cap gains increases, tax on “the rich”, and carbon price increases
        – promises (and $600 billion for “starters”) to simultaineously nationalize healthcare, create nationalized cradle to university funding, while also paying for folks to live in houses they can’t afford but apparantly now have a state right to, AND insuring all unionized jobs in the auto big three stay intact notwithstanding their inherent innefficiencies,

        as merely,

        “dealing with domestic politics”.

        When the public realizes the magical happy unicorn fairy dust that Obama’s been sprinkling on his lofty rhetoric is really wealth killing redistributive socialism with a smile,

        the Americans won’t chalk this up to merely “dealing with domestic politics” I can assure you.”

        It was in a conversation with “kc”.

        • Oh, I am sorry, Kody. I just don’t care enough to. I feel bad about that, I really do, but there you are.

          • Don’t worry, I don’t expect to be at the center of your blogging universe. I’m often called a “Liar!!” here, and I don’t want folks to think I’m making this up.

            I posted it in the first place just so there’s some record of it, somewhere.

            Now, forget the distractions and off to the convo:

            Harper’s love of hockey is real.

            It’s well documented, and he’s been passionate about it, well before he became PM.

          • Emminently reasonable. And I will be the first to sympathize with someone who has trouble writing a book. And really, it’s sort of a good thing that he isn’t spending that much time on it, or it would be if I agreed more with his politics. Having a serving Prime Minister of Canada with plenty of time to work on writing a book is just, well, wrong.

        • Kody
          I don’t agree with deleting inoffensive comments either, but as Jenn says, it’s not our blog.

      • I then posted a comment about my being censured,

        and it was up for less than a minute and he then deleted that one too.

        You’re right, there’s no auto censure. He’s simply deleting all my comments.

        • Looks to me like he is just helping you fulfill your promise not to post anymore here. So, he’s doing you a favour.

        • Kody, if you look closely, you will see that you are not the only one being deleted. So stop the whining. Wells can do whatever he likes, and you are not being singled out.

          • “Whining” & “Wells can do whatever he likes”.

            Objecting to having innoffensive comments deleted is not “whining”.

            As for he could do whatever he likes,

            I was thinking about that for a moment. Assuming he “can”, I suppose anyone can do “whatever they like”, but then have to face the consequences – in this case the publics’ perception of intolerance. I am powerless to stop it, yes. But it doesn’t make it right. Having the power to do something isn’t the same as being legitimate.

            Further, I don’t recall Mr. Wells gaining a majority interest in Rogers Publishing, the corporate owner of Macleans.

            As such, this is not “his” blog. He is not utilizing “his” assets. While he no doubt has a considerable amount of jounalistic license in what he does and doesn’t write (no good publisher would keep their writers on tight leashes), to say that he “can do whatever he wants” in regards to this blog, is a stretch.

            No doubt the makers of this site decided to have free commenters (subject to reasonable limits to avoid abuse or offensive conduct etc) for a reason – that reason being the fostering of a free flow of ideas, which ideas would necessarily contain objections/disagreements to the writers themselves.

            In my humble opinion, I believe Mr. Wells was out of line to delete comments in the manner he did. That Jenn literally found it unbelievable is telling in and of itself.

            I was prepared to move on, but I’m also prepared to defend my position.

            In short, SF, I’ll have to disagree with you.

          • Ok.

            Frankly, if you plan to take it up with Wells’ bosses, good luck! I have a feeling that won’t go well for you. Even if you try to convince them that Wells was out of line.

            Mostly, I was just pointing out that others have been deleted too.

          • sf,

            I was planning on doing no such thing.

            As I said, I’m planning on moving on.

            What I’m not planning on, is standing by while others call me a whiner.

          • You mean all my witticisms and bons mots have disappeared? What. A. Tragedy.

            But I don’t feel bad personally. I just think it’s not right to punish the ages for whatever transgression I seem to have committed (which I believe was lèse majesté).

          • Just when is this moving going to take place Kody, we do have other applicants for chief rsident whiner you know.
            Yrs in good faith, PW esquire and majority shareholder in Rogers Inc.
            So play nice,or piss off, please.

            Just kidding Kody, it’s unfortunate, but you can’t say you didn’t have it coming.Anyway, can’t anyone push the button and delete you, not that i approve of that really either.

          • But I don’t feel bad personally. I just think it’s not right to punish the ages

            Only a few days of your Inkless comments were deleted. The vast majority of your oeuvre is still intact.

  13. People have a lot of opinions here – when you go into your own genealogy it’s an interesting journey and full of surprises.

    According to Deb Grey, Harper wasn’t even interested in hockey when he was young and as recently as when he worked for her.

    It’s a prop. Geoge W. Bush bought a ranch to appear like the average American and Harper’s prop is hockey. Bush isn’t even living in Crawford now and is apparently going to sell the ranch.

    Image – look like the average guy stuff, but one thing – what average guy tries to run for PM?

  14. Iggy is operating under what is known as plan B : you see there are 2 things a politician needs to do to get power in canada either discuss policy or themselves. I see Iggy seems to to enjoy not bothering with policy as after all the LPC doesn’t really have any and they are in complete support of the Conservative policies no doubt .. sure they like to talk the talk but they would rather sit on their hands than walk! next stop next report card – how much do you want to bet that there will be a whole bunch of hands under bums again after of course the requisite Mr. Speaker : How Dare the Gov’t BLA BLA BLA ! what will be hilarious though is come this fall when a whole bunch of legislation will be rolling through the HOC with the Obama seal of approval ROFL

    • That’ll be the Wayney day!

    • Wayne
      You have it backasswards, as usual. The libs aren’t doing much policywise as there isn’t much room for them since Harpy seems to be reading from their playbook. Although he keeps on skipping over the verbs, so we are all alittle confused out here in a little town called reality. But as you pt out the recession/depression/upturn – which is it today Steve – will stick to him. And eventually when the reek offends Canadians enough, he will be asked to vacate for a more…[cough] Obama friendly leader. One who can walk, talk [ in both official lang’s ] chew gum, write books that are both published and read, and dicuss with Obama why govt is not a regrettable inconvenience, but an institution that we all have a stake in, and should be proud of.

  15. I have the unique distinction of being probably the only Canadian in the world who has two members of his family who both wrote biographies of Nova Scotia’s greatest man,

    Assuming that Michael Ignatieff does not belong to a family made of three people–grandfather, great-grandfather and Ignatieff himself–this sentence is nonsensical.

    Other members of Ignatieff’s family would have these two book-writing relatives as well, presumably. Doesn’t he have a brother, for example? Cousins who share these grandparents?

    So he can’t be the “only Canadian in the world” with the “unique distinction” he claims.