The thing that is most alarming about Michael Ignatieff’s threat to force yet another election is Michael Ignatieff himself. He thinks he can win, which is a particularly scary prospect.

Based on Ignatieff’s writings, musings and comments, there’s every chance a Michael Ignatieff government may well be worse than Harper’s.

“Not possible”, you say? Well, put a spotlight on Ignatieff’s policies and priorities for a minute and a disturbing picture becomes quickly clear.

Take the tar sands. While Harper has overseen a steady and appalling expansion of the world’s dirtiest oil, he’s not been nearly so triumphalist as Michael Ignatieff. Remember Ignatieff’s comments in a Vancouver pub last January? He said the tar sands are “awesome” and “awe inspiring”. He revelled in the prospect of how “powerful” the tar sands make Canada. Those would be the same tar sands that are Canada’s largest and fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

When asked at the same meeting about Barack Obama’s now fading promise to renegotiate NAFTA, Ignatieff reacted as if the very idea was a threat to Canada. He pointed to Canada’s energy supplies as the major card we can use against the U.S. But not a card to improve labour or environmental protections. Rather, his priority was that “…we can’t allow a protectionist tide to take over economic policy in the United States.”

Ignatieff is a strong proponent of corporate trade deals. When challenged last spring to vote against the Conservative legislation for the proposed Canada/Colombia trade agreement in light of Colombia’s horrifying human rights record, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals – the ostensible Official Opposition – specifically declined.

But then basic human rights seem a malleable concept for the former Harvard professor. His comment in a 2004 op. ed. in the New York Times not only bear repeating, but deserve big prominence in the upcoming election. Canadians need to call out Ignatieff and demand to know what he really meant when he wrote, “To defeat evil, we may have to traffic in evils: indefinite detention of suspects, coercive interrogations, targeted assasinations, even pre-emptive war.”

Like the pre-emptive war on Iraq.

Like the indefinite detention of Omar Khadr.

Like the coercive interrogations and targeted assasinations of Dick Cheney, but perhaps implemented in a more Liberal or intellectual fashion.

Michael Ignatieff’s vapid new English language TV ads say Canada needs a government with a “new way of thinking”, a government that “thinks big and has a global perspective” so that “Canada can take on the world and win”.

Sounds pretty creepy to me. Seems like that big new way of thinking means even more tar sands expansion, pre-emptive wars, indefinite detentions and corporate trade deals at the expense of human rights. 


Blair Redlin

Blair Redlin is a researcher with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, based in Burnaby. In addition to bargaining support for CUPE’s municipal sector in B.C., his research priorities include...