being turfed retiring from federal politics last year, Michael Ignatieff has been on an intellectual crusade against political partisanship. In the last month alone, the former Liberal leader waxed academic on the subject during a lecture at Stanford University, on a BBC panel discussion and in an interview with Metro Morning’s Matt Galloway. Apparently, Ignatieff’s upset that excessive partisanship and political nastiness is eroding democracy—precisely the kind of ivory tower preaching we expected from Iggy before he went from talking about politics (which he’s good at) to actually doing politics (which he’s not so good at). Below, a recent collection of Ignatieff’s most high-falutin’ assertions on democracy’s end days.
• Iggy says: “In a democracy, I think, we have no enemies. We have rivals. We have opponents. But we don’t have enemies. Enemies are people you want to destroy. Enemies threaten you. Adversaries are simply people you compete with.” Someone please send this vocabulary lesson to Doug Ford.
• Ignatieff says: “Fascism took the fatal step from a politics of adversaries into a politics of enemies. We are not there yet, but it is worth remembering that the fatal declension occurred in a democracy not so dissimilar to our own.” This seems a touch over the top. Is North American democracy really at risk of devolving into fascism? Stephen Harper probably hopes so. But we think not.
• Ignatieff says: “I don’t want to sound holier than thou, but politics is about standing up for what you believe, saying something positive, saying something hopeful, saying something that draws people together.” He may not want to sound holier than thou, but, um, dude, you just used the phrase “fatal declension.”
• Ignatieff says: “What’s happened is increasing power to the prime minister, increasing power to the bureaucracy, and the legislature—Parliament—is a kind of empty, pointless debating chamber because it’s all stitched up in advance by party leaders.” That’s a surprising admission from a former party leader, which makes clear just how seldom MPs are allowed to vote according to their conscience.
• Ignatieff says: “Honesty requires me to say I was a party leader once, and my instincts were always to shut those people [dissenting Liberal MPs] down wherever I could. So I’m completely, flagrantly contradicting what my interests were not two years ago.” Yep, that about sums it up.
• ‘I think Parliament’s going to die’: Ignatieff predicts end of Western democracies [National Post]
• Nasty Campaigns [CBC Radio]
• Michael Ignatieff, former leader of the Canadian Liberal Party, urges a return to civility and compromise in politics [Stanford News]