rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Jason Kenney -- just visiting Alberta? -- piously congratulates Michael Ignatieff for Order of Canada

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Image: Flickr/Michael Ignatieff

Jason Kenney's Tweet of congratulations to former Liberal Party of Canada leader Michael Ignatieff on Friday was a rare moment of graciousness amid the usual stream of splenetic social media outbursts Albertans have come to associate with the candidate to lead Alberta's Progressive Conservative Party.

"Congratulations to @M_Ignatieff and all others receiving the Order of Canada today," former prime minister Stephen Harper's top lieutenant piously proclaimed in the Tweet. "A much-deserved recognition of a brilliant Canadian." (Emphasis added.)

Ignatieff was given the national award for "contributions to the advancement of knowledge as a human rights scholar and reporter." If he even noticed the Tweet, I'm sure he thought something along the lines of "Gee, thanks so very much, Mr. Kenney..."

After all, wasn't Kenney a key part of the Harper Conservative brain trust that came up with those nasty "Michael Ignatieff...Just Visiting" TV ads back in 2009?

You know, the series in which Ignatieff, just elected as Liberal leader, was attacked for being a brilliant Canadian scholar who studied, worked and was respected outside the country. The ads didn't quite mention putting on airs, having clean hands and possibly being in possession of a pair of reading spectacles, but the implication was clear.

Each ad ended with this sneering summation of the Canadian historian, author, dramatist, human rights activist, documentary maker and teacher: "He's not in it for Canada. He's just in it for himself. Michael Ignatieff...just visiting."

If you think about it, a distinguished public intellectual and author like Ignatieff -- respected around the world for his academic work, fiction, biography, historical writing and journalism -- is the very last sort of person to just be in it for himself. He had options. The inclusion of his name on last year's list of Order of Canada recipients tacitly recognizes this.

Regardless, the unremittingly vile Conservative campaign to undermine Ignatieff worked its black magic and -- combined with a terrific and positive NDP campaign by the late Jack Layton -- saw the Liberals temporarily reduced to the third party in the House of Commons in the 2011 federal election.

It is ironic, then, that in the context of Alberta, much the same thing could be said of Kenney -- with considerably less justification for some future Order of Canada, which as we Albertans know are handed out on a pro forma basis to former provincial premiers, as the native of the Toronto suburb of Oakville aspires to be.

At any rate, while Kenney was mostly raised in Saskatchewan and spent a couple of years at a religious university in San Francisco before coming to this province, while technically an Albertan he spent close to 20 years far away in Ottawa as the Conservative MP for a couple of Calgary ridings. Still, no one accused him of just visiting during those occasions he found himself back in Alberta.

During the 1990s, while Ignatieff was writing a regular editorial column for the London Observer, two novels, one of which was shortlisted for a major literary prize, two major non-fiction works on the civil war in Yugoslavia and ethnic conflicts, an important biography, and winning a Gemini Award for a TV documentary, Kenney was thinking up stunts as chief mouthpiece for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. The CTF, of course, is the organization that gave Canadians "Porky the Waster Hater."

It might have been fair to say that Ignatieff -- a Harvard PhD who also studied at Oxford and the University of Toronto -- was a lousy politician, unsuited to a game that has to be played with the elbows up. But to say he was in it for himself, was a disgusting libel.

But it's one Kenney's online storm troopers don't seem to have forgotten. Leastways, they were all over it in the steam of comments beneath Kenney's Tweet. "Why are you praising this idiot who hates canada? (sic)," asked one. "You are losing me jason." All without a word of remonstrance from their fearless leader.

High on the Harper Government's bill of indictment against Ignatieff was that he had advocated a carbon tax when he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party. In this, at least, Kenney is quite consistent -- he's still attacking carbon taxes, including the Alberta NDP carbon levy that went into effect yesterday.

Never mind that his boss and mentor is no longer the PM in Ottawa, but languishes in enforced retirement here in Alberta, apparently helping out with Kenney's campaign. The Liberal prime minister who is in power, meanwhile, has been pretty clear there would have been no pipeline projects approved without the Alberta NDP's Climate Leadership Plan, of which the carbon tax is an integral part.

So repealing the tax as Kenney vows to do in the event he is able to form a government probably doesn't bode well for the ability of Alberta to sell its landlocked resources abroad. This would please a lot of environmentally minded British Columbians, anyway.

Oh well, at least we have a pretty good idea what Alberta Conservative TV ads will look and sound like in the likely event Kenney emerges as the party's leader in March.

Meanwhile, after his political defeat, Ignatieff returned to his academic work, teaching at the University of Toronto, being given a chair by the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs in New York, returning to teach at Harvard University's Kennedy School, and, this year, becoming president of the Central European University in Budapest.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Please chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Image: Flickr/Michael Ignatieff

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.