Public intellectual - Macleans.ca

Public intellectual

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Andrew Steele considers Michael Ignatieff and elitism.

You would be hard-pressed to identify a single Canadian prime minister who was a populist either in appeal or policy. If Canadians want hockey players and lumberjacks in top office, they certainly don’t show it with their voting behaviour.

While there have been successful populist parties at the provincial level, the few attempts at populism at a federal level have never broken through to the broader public. Social Credit was never more than a protest party. Their Quebec variant was short-lived. The Reform Party was far less successful than it’s more disciplined and elite-driven Conservative successor. In fact, the biggest mistake Mr. Ignatieff could make would be a sudden and jarring turn to token populism.