The Commons: The eternal shame of the Ivy Leaguer

Harvard is a stain Ignatieff might never wash away


The Commons: The eternal shame of the Ivy LeaguerThe Scene. In preemptive move, the government side sent up another of its backbenchers before Question Period—this one named Greg Rickford—to report on the latest outrageousness of the Liberal leader.

“Mr. Speaker, Canada’s auto industry directly employs over 150,000 Canadians and another 340,000 indirectly … half a million Canadians and their families depend on the health and viability of this industry and are looking to their leaders to ensure that Canada remains a strong part of the North American automotive industry through these economic times,” Rickford began. “That is why it is absolutely shameful that the leader of the opposition has turned up his nose to auto sector workers by saying: ‘No voter in B.C. wants to throw money into the auto sector and neither do I.'”

To Rickford’s credit, this was not entirely incorrect. Mr. Ignatieff did speak those 16 words. And one assumes it was by innocent omission that the Conservative failed to note the two preceding sentences. “I don’t believe in bailouts,” Mr. Ignatieff reportedly said. “What I believe in is fully-refundable loan packages for industries that give you a business plan that will restore them to profitability.”

Undaunted by such details, Rickford went on. “I wonder if he would repeat the same sentiment at a town hall meeting in Ontario,” he whined. “I am sure he has more savvy than that. He has shown time and time again that he is more than willing to flip-flop on the content of his message to suit whatever audience he is speaking to, whether it be in Saanich, St. Catharines or at his home in Harvard.”

This last bit was, apparently, meant as a put-down.

It’s unclear when Harvard became a dirty word. For sure, the sorts of things people do at places like Harvard has long been suspect. “Over the course of his nearly four decades working abroad as a professor, pundit, and politician, Michael Ignatieff chose to focus on abstract constitutional, sociological and foreign policy issues,” the Conservatives moaned in a fundraising letter a few weeks ago, “while ignoring everyday issues such as the jobs and savings of Canadians.”

For the record, Mr. Ignatieff completed his PhD in history at Harvard and later spent five years there as director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. Perhaps had he known that such work would render him unfit to hold high office in Canada, he would have avoided it. Or at least avoided this.

As it is, his interest in higher education, intellectualism and general knowledge is a burden he must now bear. A stain he might never wash away. A shame he may never reconcile, no matter how many questions he asks this government about the everyday issues of everyday Canadians.

“Mr. Speaker, President Obama’s announcement about the U.S. auto sector leaves Canadians wondering who is defending the Canadian industry,” he asked today to open Question Period. “The minister says he supports the Americans’ plan, but where is the coordinated strategy to save the North American industry as a whole? This crisis has been gathering for years. Why has the government waited for three years so that Washington can decide the fate of our workers and our industry?”

With the Prime Minister elsewhere, Industry Minister Tony Clement stood to lead the government response. “Mr. Speaker, in fact we are coordinated with the Americans because this is an integrated auto sector. We have been working with American officials and the Prime Minister has been working with the U.S. president to make sure that the Americans are aware this is integrated and that is why our response today was indeed integrated,” he responded. “The honourable member stands in his place and talks about failed Liberal policies of previous governments and then in British Columbia on the weekend, says he does not want to support the auto sector. So which is the real leader of the opposition?”

“Mr. Speaker,” responded Ignatieff, “the minister’s capacity for misquotation never fails to astonish me.”

Clement shrugged, obviously unimpressed by the Liberal leader’s ability to pronounce polysyllabic words.

Ignatieff insisted on repeating his request for factual information. “Last week, GM testified to the auto subcommittee that it had committed all of its worldwide assets, including its assets in Canada, as collateral for U.S. loans to keep its American operations alive. That may mean that the government’s loans to GM Canada are going to be unsecured and Canadian taxpayers are going to be on the hook,” he said. “The government was not at the table. It did not stand up for taxpayers. It did not stand up for Canadian workers. Why not?”

Clement, whose two degrees from the University of Toronto are of no consequence to this discussion, suggested Mr. Ignatieff was eager to see several hundred thousand people put out of work.

“Mr. Speaker, I take this to be ‘no,’ the loans are unsecured and I await contradiction,” Ignatieff shot back.

Liberal Frank Valeriote rose next, removed his glasses and lectured the government side about car warranties. Clement stood and pledged his interest in the President’s next move. “The fact of the matter is these plans are progressing,” he said. “Obviously the U.S. President has some new ideas. We are willing to take a look at those.”

It was at this point that Mr. Rickford must have been tempted to interject. Whatever the merits of the Preisdent’s ideas, he did, of course, spend several years in the general vicinity of Harvard. Indeed, like Mr. Ignatieff, Barack Obama lowered himself to obtain a degree from that breeding ground of communists, socialists, liberals and other such villains.

The Liberals kept on with their pressing for details. “Mr. Speaker, let’s try this again,” ventured Marc Garneau. “My question to the Minister of Industry is very simple and I trust crystal clear. Can he tell us whether any loans which may be made to GM Canada by the federal government will be backed by any GM assets? In other words, will the Conservatives be requiring GM Canada to put up any collateral for any loans made to it? If so, what is that collateral?”

Clement would only clarify that the government had not yet actually delivered a loan to General Motors.

Only when Mr. Valeriote ventured a question about government plans to make credit more easily available to consumers, did the government send someone other than the Industry Minister up to handle the dominant issue of the day.

“Mr. Speaker, the credit facility is part of the extraordinary financing framework that was announced in the budget on January 27. It is very important in terms of acquiring the commercial paper that is supported by loans with respect to vehicles and equipment,” huffed Jim Flaherty. “Unlike the opposition, we have actually consulted to create a plan that will work for Canadians and the plan will be implemented shortly.”

The Finance Minister took only one other question this afternoon, the government obviously somewhat reluctant to let a Princeton grad say too much on its behalf.

The Stats. The automotive industry, 10 questions. Quebec and employment, five questions each. Abousfian Abdelrazik, four questions. The military, three questions. Taxation, crime, the disabled and trade, two questions each. Home renovations, listeriosis, poverty, tobacco farmers, the CBC and pipeline safety, one question each.

Tony Clement, nine answers. Deepak Obhrai, seven answers. Christian Paradis and Ed Komarnicki, five answers. Peter MacKay, three answers. Jim Flaherty, Peter Van Loan, Gerry Ritz and Stockwell Day, two answers each. Jean-Pierre Blackburn, David Anderson, Dean Del Mastro and John Baird, one answer each.


The Commons: The eternal shame of the Ivy Leaguer

  1. The reason sociologists are derided is because they don’t actually have to prove their work. That, and the fact that still cling to Hegelian dialectical theory, even though it is easily disproved hokum.

    • I will say though, that the social sciences are getting better as more and more 60’s style radical boomers retire and make way for people who actually want to study data.

      • Without data you have nada but dada is bettah.

    • Another irrelevant diatribe against Hebel. Let it go, man. Because we all know social scientists don’t pay any attention to figures like Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, Freud, or Pierce, and totally ignore developments like existentialism, semiotics & post-modernism. Nope, it’s all 19th-century German Idealism.

      Now if you want a field where scientists don’t have to prove their work, I’d suggest taking a look at economics.

      • Economists are just sociologists in suits.

        All of the philosophers you name also build upon Hegel’s dialectical theory in one way or another.

  2. I am almost certain that Chrysler and GM have used worldwide operations as collateral for US loans so the cupboard is bare when it comes to Canadian government. But I am not sure why that’s an issue since less than 10% of corporate welfare gets paid back anyway so why worry about collateral now since we have been pissing away money for years on deadbeat companies.

    I am actually quite surprised Libs are taking this line. Since Detroit 3 have pledged their plants and factories to US government they don’t have any collateral for Canadian government. Are Libs really going to come out against the bailout package because Oshawa, Windsor and Brampton plants are already spoken for?

    • Because Conservatives were saying that they were waiting for Obama’s auto bailout plan before acting so they could be at the table with Obama and work with him on a North American auto sector plan.

      Then the Conservatives were saying they were at the table and working with Obama on a North American auto sector plan.

      But then a funny thing happened. Obama managed to announce a plan that had no benefit to Canada, had no input from Canada, and actually weakens whatever leverage Canada might have in negotiating, forcing or enforcing terms of its own auto bailout plan.

      The Conservatives are left holding the door for Obama, but he went to visit a different building altogether.

  3. Conservative MP John Weston attended Harvard although you wouldn’t know that from his official Conservative Party website bio.

    Does he have to renounce it, or will he simply just have to sit as an Independent?

    • Iggy needs to make like Tony Clement and dump his foreign-sounding name and leave all mention of his foreign roots off his bio.

  4. Obviously government should be run more like business. There must be a business out there somewhere that government should be more run like. Anyone ?

      • lol

    • Only one, and it employs Oompa-Loompas.

  5. My suggestion is a weekly or monthly house of commons question period hall of shame. Obstuctionism, dishonesty, shrillness, ridiculously partisan S.O. 31s, general lowering of the discourse – post the worst offenders up for the world to see. The HOC doesn’t have to be a national embarassment. But the only way to conquer the Rickfords and Dean Del Maestros of the world is to hold them accountable for their imbecility, expose them to the light of day and thus, hopefully, embarass them into silence.

    Perhaps a project for Mr. Wherry to take on? He already does an excellent job of it here. I’m just afraid not enough people are reading it.

    • Kady O’Malley already does it. I’m afraid it only encourages them.

      • Why read something when you already know what it will conclude?

  6. Good work Aaron, don’t get put off by charges of bias. Not while these clowns continue with their dumb and dumber shstick. I truly pity true conservatives, surely they must feel nothing but shame at this spectacle? I know the liberals probably wrote the book on these sort of tactics, but what good does this serve? No-one’s cheering except the choir, boys, and meanwhile you’re pissing away what remains of our politial capital with the public at large.

  7. “A stain that might never wash away..” This entire riff on Ignatieff and Harvard is positively Leacockian. Clever, subtle and deflating.

  8. Aaron,

    Re. “unlike Mr. Ignatieff, Barack Obama actually lowered himself to obtain a degree from that breeding ground of communists, socialists, liberals and other such villains.”

    Didn’t Iggy complete his PhD. at Hahvahd?

    And conservative (Jarrid/Kody/Darryl and most recently Liberal All Fail – I believe this is your new name because of a few telltale signs)

    I don’t understand the need to mention Obama getting into Harvard under affirmative action. Are you saying he didn’t deserve to be there? Are you intimating that his degree is unearned? Is any and everything he has achieved since tainted by this? Not sure what your point if any is.

    • Ignatieff did complete his PhD at Harvard. Corrections made.

  9. The fact that Ignatieff attended Harvard is not the issue…the real issue is he chose to live outside Canada for the past 20+ years…and only recently returned. He had often referred to the US as “my country”. He supported the War in Irag… and was a Bush policy booster.
    Now, consider just for a second that the tables were reversed…if Harper had spent the past 20 years living outside the country and had referred to the US as “his country”…just imagine how the looney left and its media allies would have protrayed this…yet the left leaning media in this country seems to ignore these facts altogether…they seem to relish the fact that this “new found Canadian” is now back in this country to save us from for those “big mean conservatives”….tsk…tsk…tsk…

    • Until recently, Harper hadn’t visited anywhere outside the continent; his one ‘crowning moment,’ according to some, was his speech that denounced the then-government’s decision not to support an invasion of Iraq. That he took credit for this speech, let it be published under his byline all over the place, and also did a quick jib to cry in the arms of the Wall St Journal during that debate, certainly doesn’t infringe on his ability to speak for Canadians. That he accomplished nothing until bringing together two fractious pieces of a political movement, and continues to prefer confering before the questions of the US media, doesn’t make him less of a man. Just a fraud of a leader.

      • “continent”? How about “hadn’t visited anywhere outside of Alberta”.

    • “. . . if Harper had spent the past 20 years living outside the country.”

      Worse. Harper spent that time living in a USA-wannabe-Republican bubble in Calgary.

      Harper’s vision of Canada and for Canada – read his lips; or read what he’s written and said – is what the Bush reality created in the United States. Harper’s had two perfect opportunities to win the confidence of Canadians and a majority government to implement his viewpoint but Canada as a whole would not buy in. In fact it seems to me the more Canadians see of Harper and ‘Canada’s New Government’ the less they care for Harper’s – as Paul Wells mused not that long ago – incoherent approach to the challenges that face the nation.

      • If Harper had been gone and out of the country his entire life, I would vote for him in a minute… if it meant replacing our current Prime Minister.

  10. Did somebody leave the back door open? Where are these trolls coming from?

    Gotta pick up some RAID next time I’m at Loblaws…

  11. The thing these clowns in the Harper Party still don’t get is that every time they pull another stunt, it destroys their credibility, not that of their target.

  12. Will the dubious wit and scorn now called Conservative feel enlightened enough to loan me $4,000 so that I may get my porch done? Certainly I agree to comply with his ‘repayment’ plan, being that his definition of a loan is equal to that of a grant… Although as he may recognize, full repayment of a loan may include payment in kind, as in community involvement, commitment and fiscal reimbursement.
    But hey, keep walking on water, Con dude.

    • I asked my student loan officer, and apparently I wasn’t given a grant, it was a fully refundable loan! darn!

  13. “That is why it is absolutely shameful that the leader of the opposition has turned up his nose to auto sector workers by saying: ‘No voter in B.C. wants to throw money into the auto sector and neither do I.’”

    Could it be, Harper and friends don’t like the look of Ontario’s new poll numbers?

  14. “Obviously government should be run more like business. There must be a business out there somewhere that government should be more run like. Anyone ?”

    Hey you’re onto something. Let’s put our heads together on this one.

    It would have to be the kind of business that loses money on everything it does, gives slipshod service, overpays their employees and suppliers (whom it selects through cronyism and nepotism), is able to raise its prices whenever it wants, treats its customers with extreme arrogance, enjoys an absolute monopoly in its chosen fields, maintains its monopoly using the police and prison system and if necessary the army, and holds an election to its board of governors every few years in which strategically arranged blocks of shareholders are induced to vote against the interests of the majority through the timely dispensation of money and favours.

  15. This is not about Harvard or Ignatieff. This story is about the same old same old low-brow, lowest common demoninator tactics of the Conservatives. Only the small men in the Conservative Party would view an education as something negative. Bunch of old curmudgeons. With Dion out of the way, women are not going to vote conservative this time.

  16. go Ivy League!!!

    Poor people just sad they couldn’t afford to even go to university. Blue collars, sheesh..

  17. —-Let me tell you why the host of this blog and the Harper-Hating——- Iggy-Loving contributors are becoming quickly irrelevant and predictable.
    When someone like conservative disagrees with you in a respectful way the best you can do is smartass comebacks like ” idiot ” ” troll” or ” clown “——-that is just lazy—-if you disagree with him then pick apart his arguments one at a time.
    And, Yes, Rickford may have been negligent by not quoting Iggy when he went on to state that Government should have solid assurances from private industry that aid should be contingent on a viable business plan. But, in the to and fro of partisan politics that is to be expected. So earlier today Flaherty and Clement held a news conference and basically said the same thing about the relationship between gov`t and industry. Wherry doesn`t mention that—–that`s CBC style journalism——-you`re becoming irrelevant.

    • When conservatives like JWL disagrees with me I will debate arguments one at a time. He and I may disagree on our starting assumptions, but the logic he uses to reach his conclusions is pretty sound.

      Conservatives like conservative, on the other hand, pick their own arguments apart one at a time by making them incoherently. While I personally expect Harper’s Harpies to have a level of competence just high enough that their drool doesn’t short out their keyboards and either ignore them or use them for malicious sport, it seems Iggy’s Stooges must have more respect for their tactics than I do, because they respond. Being Stooges, a lot of them don’t have a lot of creativity and use strictly descriptive terms like idiot and clown. Accurate, perhaps, but definitely pedantic.

      But in the name of malicious sport, I’d like to point that double m-dashes are a typographical faux pas (that’s “bad step” on conservativese), and it’s just bad grammar to start a paragraph with one. I’d recommend a comma between “Harper-Hating” and “Iggy-Loving”. You also need a comma after “idiot” and after “clown” in the second paragraph, and a new sentence after lazy. The if/then construction you use at the end of the second paragraph may be correct in some programming languages, but not in English. In the last “sentence” (I use the term loosely, as it is clearly NOT a sentence), in addition to ungrammatically joining three unconnected clauses with m-dashes, you change from the third voice in the first clause to the second voice in the third.

      If you want to engage us in intelligent discourse, we need to be convinced that your opinions contain a certain level of intelligence and knowledge. As long as your writing suggests you retained nothing from elementary school grammar classes, you will continue to make conservatives look like uneducated ignoramuses (as opposed to over-educated Ig-noramuses, I suppose) and make yourselves the subject of malicious sport and petty name-calling.

      • seems like every opinion, bias and intellectual discourse is beneath you oh hallowed one..do you fly also? get off your self already.

        • So one of those Liberal flyers arrives in the mail the other day and Iggy has that pained, flaming hemorrhoids, look on his face and I`m trying to figure out why people won`t vote for this guy. Then I read Sheepings little blurb above and it comes to me. They both have that annoying self-righteous attitude, you know the one where they give off that air of self-importance where they have so much knowledge and wisdom and the rest of us are only peasants. Oh yeah, that should go over well in small town and suburbia Canada. Maybe if Sheeping and Iggy hang out down at the U of T they will impress the few.

          There no dashes—————aw screw it——–I`ll use `em as much as I like——-and I know Sheeping was just trying to be non-pedantically amusing——–but he`s just so easy to make fun off.

      • Hey kids! I spotted at least three grammatical errors in Shenping’s comment. Can you spot them? (Hint: start with the fifth word.) Also, Shenping’s comments about the “if/then” construction make no sense whatsoever. FAIL.

        • I think I saw a bi-labial fricative as well hmmmm –

      • I ,like the. Iggy-noramuses! – well done – I mean very, well done – do you .mind if I use it?

  18. “Clement, whose two degrees from the University of Toronto are of no consequence to this discussion…”

    I don’t see how two degrees, including a law degree from the University of Toronto, is so irrelevant.

  19. Speaking as IT Professional (I started main frame computing in 1977 and have been pounding keyboards since I stopped punching cards), as someone who has entered the most exalted halls of academia 3 times now and having had the opportunity to hire and fire hundreds of University graduates … I am fortunate in that I can stride both worlds and come to the conclusion that when you get right down to it the only thing attendance at Harvard or Oxford or any other ford really proves is that at least you might show up for work as the only thing you have proved to me is that you might have decent attendance and can pay attention when test time comes. I would rather hire an employee from a community college over that of the recent deployments from Computing Science in any of the so called big league institutions. I don’t know what the problem is it is almost a certain sense of entitilement I think as well – if I hear ” Well that’s not what I learned at university ” one more time when I give an instruction to a raw recruit I am going to go postal!

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