A Canadian by convenience.
At least he was born here.
But why is it that when Iggy says, as he did last night at a Richmond, B.C. rally, that “I swear to you, I’m in this battle for Canadians," I'm immediately reminded the Grit leader spent most of his adult life abroad?
Ignatieff is of an older generation that "graduated" from Canada.
I've always had a pebble in my shoe about folks who give up on this country. Conrad Black and my grandmother on my Dad's side are my touchstones on this. Wouldn't you know it, when grandma had outlived two husbands and was all alone in her California gated retirement village, it then struck her that she needed to end her 20-year self-exile to benefit from the care and companionship of her son in Toronto. A Canadian by convenience.
Then there are the Norman Jewisons and Shania Twains, who return home so often they've never really left. On Canada Day, Jewison has one of Southern California's biggest backyard fetes, for fellow ex-pats among the half-million Canadians working in Hollywood. My heart's with them, obviously. Ditto Celine Dion, Michael Fox ("Of course I wish I could still live in Vancouver, who wouldn't?" he told Letterman) and Justin Bieber. Maybe only a 17-year-old hearthrob can get away with telling Americans, on U.S. soil, that "you're evil," a reference to the U.S. lack of universal heathcare.
Iggy also tutored supporters on the calling to which he's so new: "In politics, hope always wins out over fear."
Oy. Tell that to Bob Stanfield, Adlai Stevenson, John Turner, fans of the long-form census and advocates of a properly run long-gun registry.
I know this kind of ear candy is a stump staple. But a supposed intellect and student of history, who lived among the Kurds for heaven's sake, would know the hollowness of that expression. And would at least find a novel way of recasting that sophistry. (He's an author, no?)
Iggy also had some caustic words last night about the PM's "arrogance," for seeking a majority. How odd that a minority PM would seek a majority, as Pearson repeated tried and failed to do.
I'm just old enough, a Trudeau-era kid, to still have a knee-jerk association of "arrogance" with Grits. And if it isn't arrogant to pop by and seek the leadership of a country you've long ago abandoned, it's chutzpah or delusionalism or something not agreeable.
There are useful things Iggy could say.
He could start with a heart-felt explanation of why he felt a compulsion to return to Canada. He could then turn the liability of being seen as an interloper on its head. He could say, "I've seen enough of the world [insert CV here] to know Canada is the world's most nearly perfect country. And that's why I came back, to seek the privilege to work with you to take Canada to an even better place."
He won't, though.
Granted it's Ignatieff's first campaign as leader. (Remember how Mike Harris fared in 1990?). But Ignatieff is a muddle. I don't think at 63 that's going to change. Which means Iggy will likely join Edward Blake and Stephane Dion as the only leaders of the Liberal Party never to become PM.