Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Slang

And the new leader of the Liberal Party of Canada: After all the axes are grinded, the knives sharpened, cudgels gathered, and tridents hoisted -- after that final hatchet is dug into Paul Martin’s back by an erstwhile ally, Mr. Martin inevitably relenting and stepping down as the Liberal leader, Michael Ignatieff will be chosen as the new Liberal leader.

Mr. Ignatieff, that Harvard intellectual and humanitarian hawk whose support for the Iraq war was convincing enough for this humble writer to bite, prevailed in the riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore to win a seat in the House of Commons and a chance at the Liberal leadership. By earlier accounts, Mr. Ignatieff was in tough. The Etobicoke-Lakeshore constituents were generally skeptical of a Liberal parachute candidate who hadn’t lived in Canada in over 40 years. Despite his impeccable and no doubt enviable credentials -- Director of the Carr Center of Human Rights Policy at Harvard, broadcaster, journalist, professor, author of numerous books, novelist, Booker prize nominee, etc. -- people weren’t buying his run for a likely backbench position in a Liberal opposition. Something smacked of opportunism.

It didn’t help that the Liberal machine all but secured his nomination, locking out a local Croatian candidate who had his own designs of succeeding Jean Augustine, a former Liberal stalwart in that riding. And so, predictably, Michael Ignatieff rallies were stormed by jilted Croatians excoriating him for his support of the Iraq war and his alleged Croatian racism. In rebutting these criticisms Ignatieff, a commentator on the Balkan wars and the subsequent dissolution of Yugoslavia, drew the distinction between his misgivings with an aggressive Croatian nationalism and Croatian racism. Mr. Ignatieff wrote thoughtfully on the former while never evincing any evidence of the latter. Many of the attacks on him were both defamatory and without merit.

The Conservative candidate in the race, John Capobianco, couldn’t shake the baggage of working in the backrooms of the disreputable Mike Harris government. The NDP candidate, Liam McHugh-Russell, was an unserious University of Toronto Law student who didn’t even make the effort to prepare for a debate against Michael Ignatieff because, as he says, he didn’t think anyone was showing up. Sure. But in the end Ignatieff out classed them all.

And as I finish up writing this, my man, Paul Martin, has stepped down with dignity and grace – deciding to not run again and therefore leaving the door open for hopeful leadership candidates.

No comments: