Friday, January 06, 2006

Will Michael Ignatieff stick around in opposition benches

With recent polls showing the Liberals down as much as 6 points nationally, it is only natural to question Michael Ignatieff's stake in the election.

If the Conservatives form a minority government, what of Michael Ignatieff if he wins his seat? Is he prepared to be a member of her Majesty's Opposition?

When Michael Ignatieff was plunked down in an Ontario riding, it was almost assumed that he would be assured a spot in cabinet - even perhaps Foreign Minister. Now, with the rising possibility of a Liberal opposition, Igantieff may have to settle to be an opposition critic.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the answer is no. For example, he has expressed his desire to return to Harvard if he loses. One can only speculate what he will do, since such a possibility may not be factored into his decision to run for the Liberals. Here is what may happen:

  • He could cut and run back to Harvard, saying "politics was a great experiment, but I belong in the (American) classroom.
  • He could cut and run back to Toronto, because he wishes to guide Canadian education to higher standards.
  • He could stay in opposition and teach at Harvard. It would be a lot of juggling. But I think this option would really show where his loyalties lie.
  • He could stay in opposition and wait for an opportunity to take the Liberal leadership mantle. This is a likely option, assuming that the knives will be out to get Martin if he loses the 2006 election. He would, almost instantaneously, become the frontrunner. The question is, does he have the leadership support network that can rival the secret ones already being formed in the Liberal party by longtime backbencher MPs.
As Ignatieff says, "This is politics; it's a contact sport." We will soon see if Ignatieff plans to buckle up or run away. The real question is, can Ignatieff's pride handle sitting in opposition benches if he wins his seat?


Anonymous said...

Oh, come on, Jonathan. You're usually fair in your comments, but your Anti-Ignatieff posturing is getting a bit tiresome.

Your "anecdotal" evidence is really no evidence. The whole notion that Ignatieff is really really wants to return to Harvard is bunk, based on misquotes from some students paper at a university in the United States.

Ignatieff has bought a house in Toronto. Get used to it.

While forming government is obviously huge bonus, I think it's actually a good idea for Ignatieff to get some experience on opposition benches before plunging into governing. After all, here is a guy who doesn't need to be in politics but is because he wants to do good.

But in Canada, we've turned into kneejerk reactionary whiners and so any Canadian who has been successful internationally is a "sell out".

Anonymous said...

Anonymous - correction - Ignatieff's wife has bought a condo. Easy to rent out as an income property, or to be used as a crash pad. He did say he visited Toronto approximately 50 times over the last 27 years (Michael Valpy, Globe and Mail, Dec. 8/05). Think of the math: 27 years x 50 visits = 1,350 visits. Let's assume his wife accompanied him, and assuming very modest airfars of $1,000 per trip for both of them, that's $1,350,000. Add in the accommodation and that condo will pay for itself in no time.

Where Jonathan is wrong, is in assuming that Ignatieff is going to win the riding. So the speculation about whether he will be in opposition is premature. His own campaign workers will privately tell you the reception is not warm and fuzzy at the door. Etobicoke-Lakeshore has been identified as the first former Liberal strong hold to go down in this election.