23

The nation as dessert


 

Michael Valpy writes nearly 4,400 words for the Saturday Globe on Michael Ignatieff and True Patriot Love.

His idea of some of the mythologies that run deep in Canadians’ lives seems a little musty — the North, the land, the constitutional mantra of POGG: peace, order and good government. He writes at one point that because Canadians are three peoples living in a single state without sharing the same sense of country — English-Canadian, French-Canadian and aboriginal — they cannot create a single, uniting national myth, as Americans have done.

What, I ask him, does that say about our shibboleths of pluralism, of a culture of rights, of a more communal approach to life than the Lockean individualism of Americans? On the last issue, he tells me, this nephew of George Grant: “You can’t run this country without government, without a federal government that has an inciting, promoting, stimulating role in pulling the country together.

“And the job description of a prime minister, the job description of a federal government, is just one job — hold the country together, make it stronger. That’s all it does, and Canadians have a deep understanding of that. They don’t like big government. But they do think we can’t have a country unless we have a federal government that does some of this stuff. And this is, I think, the fatal ideological flaw of Harper’s conservatism because it fits a country that is finished, but it doesn’t fit a country that is not yet done. … Part of what I like about our country is the sense that we’re unfinished business. We’re not there. The dish is not done, and that creates a project for us, which to imagine it finished, imagining the building done, the pie cooked.”

You can listen to the entire interview here. Excerpts of Valpy’s conversation with Ignatieff have also been turned into a six-minute video. Oh, and there’s a book excerpt too.


 

The nation as dessert

  1. Valpy is like Ignatieff’s love-child for crying out loud. Remember his initial tell-all article on Iggy a few years ago? Enough already.

    Can the media try any harder to annoint Iggy as supreme leader? It’s a little too much for me lately.

  2. “Part of what I like about our country is the sense that we’re unfinished business. We’re not there. The dish is not done, and that creates a project for us, which to imagine it finished, imagining the building done, the pie cooked.”

    Christ on a pogo stick! Please, please, please save me from pols who think we are a unfinished pie that needs more baking. I am happy as I am, thank you very much, and don’t desire to hear any more claptrap from academic who spent his adult life living abroad.

    Is Canada the only country that seems to have an industry dedicated to academic types telling us what it means to be Canadian? It is boring and pointless, not sure why so many are drawn to it. Let people be themselves, and get the State’s jackboot off our necks, and they will achieve great things which will lead to a unifying national myth that won’t have been imposed by Libs/State. And there won’t be anymore hackneyed books from the intelligentsia about Canadians as pies.

    • I think he’s right though. We are unfinished business, we function as a country without having one of the provinces as signatory to the constitution, we have outstanding native land claims in B.C, and disagreements in all the other provinces. I don’t think he was referring to Canadians individually as unfinished business, maybe there being no identical narrative between any two Canadians, but more that he’s referring to the country itself.

      • “Should two superannuated seniors stuck in the 60s be tasked with closing the deal?” I’m not sure, but I don’t think this conservative caucus has done any better. I’m still reeling from the Quebec as a nation motion. The only thing from Ottawa that has impressed me in the last decade is Micheal Chong, and while both harper and ignatieff might battle it out for 2 more years or so + term, I don’t think either will try to finish Canada(or have success rather). After them I’ll be backing Chong for the leadership, or people like him who are around.

  3. Ignatieff’s intellectualizing tends to make my eyes glaze over. On the other hand, he does bring out the vicious anti-intellectualism that is plaguing this country (as shown by the usual suspects here) and in doing so, gives the rest of us evidence of its exact nature, which is based in inchoate rage and the inability of some people to understand their own limitations. The very understandable frustration that causes is lamentable, but largely irrelevant to anyone else but the rager.

    • I have no idea what this rant means. It has nothing to do with my comment.

      • What do you want me to do with all of those strawmen? I didn’t even use the word “ignorant.”

      • Hey LF : you forgot the ‘ 5 ‘ th Liberal talking point – when it doubt blame it on the voter.

  4. “You can’t run this country without government, without a federal government that has an inciting, promoting, stimulating role in pulling the country together.”

    Recipe for another Adscam.

    • Or Meech Lake.

  5. Yup, just as I thought. The CPC trolls are everywhere today. Attacking every article about Ignatieff.

    God damn it, he’s smart and that is just not allowed. He has an ancestry that he had no control over and that’s not allowed.

    Gretzky can live in LA for over 17 years – is he no longer a Canadian? Well, gosh. It’s hockey damn so we’ll accept Gretzky.

    Sometimes I think I’m reading stuff from US southern redneckers here or a scene from Deliverance.

  6. Sometimes I think I’m reading stuff from US southern redneckers

    If only. That would explain things better than the awful situation we have here: the issues of the American and Canadian right have become confused, and thus, the Canadian Right has become profoundly irrational. I’m surprised I haven’t heard any Canadian conservative rant about busing and food stamps.

    They watch too much American teevee.

    • Well it’s especially amusing to watch the death throes of Canadian conservatism, or what passes for such, in parallel with what’s happening with conservatism, or I should say, Republicanism, in the United States. Having no coherent ideas to offer the American people, the GOP has been reduced to a race-baiting, xenophobic rump, but the Tories seem determined to crib their policies anyway, just like they were determined to copy the playbook of the now-discredited John Howard in Australia.

  7. So the Liberal trolls are out complaining about the semi literate conbots again : more than likely what must be so frustrating is the recent improvement in polling numbers (like that’s a surprise DUH! a chair could have been chosen as leader and got a bump after Dion) and yet what difference is the sudden gust of wind in their sails going to make? That’s the question … has been, is now and will be = how you going to vote next confidence motion Iggy hmmmm? – First as a CPC’er I see no problems with Iggy being an intellectual … you will notice I separate the term smart from intellectual as one has very little to do with the other. In point of fact the House could use a few on the oppostion side that way they might not pick a Finance critic who uses imaginary cars when trying to make a point and get caught as a bald face liar. Second point about Iggy not having spent much time here in Canada and coming back home to make his mark = it’s cool why not … although it does leave him open for the very criticism but in the scheme of things this is rather picayune to pick on him for it. The real problem for the Igster will not be the CPC but his own party .. then again maybe with Obama’s software and good polling numbers his long knives will be sheathed for awhile at least until the next confidence motion anyways.

    • “…notice I separate the term smart from intellectual as one has very little to do with the other.”

      Notice I separate the term smart from Ritz, Anders, Van Loan, etc. as one has very little to do with the others.

    • Smart – : ” stylish or elegant in dress or appearance”

      Intellectual – ” given to study, reflection, and speculation”

      By golly, Wayne’s right! All you gotta do is pick your definitions selectively…

      • Rona Ambrose = smart

    • What does it say when Wayne, our lovable Wayne, is the voice of reason on the Conservative side?

      Well done, Wayne.

    • Hmmm…just look how this is written. Speaks volumes doesn’t it?

      You all seem to be forgetting that when Harper came on the scene books and articles were written about him.

      Get over it.

      • Sandi = you issed an ‘ m ‘

  8. “And the job description of a prime minister, the job description of a federal government, is just one job — hold the country together, make it stronger.”

    A steaming pile of collectivist rubbish. Go back and read what Iggy is saying, and try to parse it.

    “Canadians dislike Big Government however they actually love Big Government which is why they should vote for me, because I’m really for Big Government whereas Stephen Harper who expanded government spending every year he’s been in power is no good because he obviously hates Big Government.”

    How does “holding the country together” make anyone stronger, when by “holding together” they mean, bribing half of the citizens occupying 80% of the country’s land area with welfare ripped out of the hands of the rest of the citizens? In his mind, whatever makes the government stronger must also make “the country” stronger.

    Lest anyone mistake my criticism of His Exaltedness Saint Michael of Hahvahd for proof that I’m a “CPC troll”, I’ll point out that the same bland, retarded rhetoric is at the core of speeches by every other federal politician. It comes with the job. Disguise the weakest and most lamentable aspects of the country as its strengths, then as a reward for telling these whoppers collect a big, fat paycheque and put all your friends and family members on the payroll.

    Intellectualizing? Don’t make me laugh.

  9. God damn it, he’s smart

    Evidence?

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