Judging from the Conservative party’s campaign slogan (“Here for Canada”) and the placard that adorned the Prime Minister’s lectern yesterday (“Canada”) and the giant flag behind him (Canadian), not to mention the actual content of Sunday’s speech—some of which was presaged by a speech to supporters last fall—Mr. Harper’s preferred ballot question would seem to be this: Who loves Canada most? Or, put as less of a question: I love Canada more than Michael Ignatieff.
In a way, this inverts questions Mr. Harper has himself faced. (At the outset of the 2006 campaign he was asked rather bluntly by a reporter whether he loved the country and Paul Martin’s campaign attempted to make something of the fact that his answer didn’t include the word “yes.) In another way, it reintroduces—if one wishes to engage in this debate—everything Mr. Harper has himself said about the country he now loves deeply.
Of the comments of Mr. Ignatieff’s that Mr. Harper’s side objects to, one involves the Canadian flag. That particular quote is taken from a column Mr. Ignatieff wrote for the Observer in 1990. Mr. Ignatieff wrote about the experience of watching the World Cup as a Canadian in England and, coincidentally, the irony of modern nationalism. The piece can be read, in its entirety, here.