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Friday, November 14, 2008

Does the Liberal party really need another elitist academic to lead them?

Now that the field has thinned out and no new candidates seem to be on the horizon, I'll tag Michael Ignatieff as the next leader of the Liberal party. He made his candidacy official yesterday, claiming that he now has the experience and credentials to lead his party over the Conservatives.

The Toronto MP said in a speech at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa:

“Now I'm going to be in competition with some fine fellow Liberals but I'm not running against any of them, I'm running against Stephen Harper and the Conservative government.”

Well good for him. The Liberal party deserves him and vice versa.

Ignatieff will fit in well as leader in the Paul Martin mold. Remember how the former prime minister would spend more time insulting and demonizing Stephen Harper than he ever would explaining to Canadians why he and his corrupt Liberals should have been given another term in office?

Yesterday, in the best Paul Martin tradition, Ignatieff said that the Conservatives are incapable of the truth, and that Liberals “do not want a Canada where the colour of your skin, the language you speak, the country you originated from determines how well you survive this economic downtown,” implying that Conservatives do want such a Canada.

Then he told us, “Leadership to me is about telling a true story that helps Canadians make sense of the world. A story that helps us act together with courage and determination... This government has not even begun to tell Canadians how to understand what’s happening to them. And if they don’t understand, how are we supposed to act together?

It was at that time that I realized what a pompous elitist the man was. If you believe him, Canadians can’t tell what happens to them unless he tells them. I guess Canadians are not self-sufficient enough figure it out for themselves.

This attitude is not surprising though, is it? After all, the man has spent his youth in expensive private schools and most of his adult life in academia. And since precious little of that time has been spent in Canada, how could he know who we average Canadians are, what we need and what we are capable of?

After spending all but a few years of his adult life outside the country, he has come back to lead us poor ignorant Canadians out of the economic and social wilderness and into a Liberal version of the Garden of Eden.

In 2006, Michael Valpy described the private school-educated, son of a diplomat and grand-son of a Russian count thus:

“His curriculum vitae is dazzling: a thinker on global affairs lionized throughout the Western world; a Canadian who has garnered truckloads of awards, honorary degrees and distinguished lectureships; the eminent director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights, an author of celebrated books published in 19 languages, and articles that have appeared in the leading periodicals of Britain, the United States and Europe; a novelist, journalist, screenwriter, documentary maker and television personality who has parsed the central moral and political issues of the times, as well as the Freudian recesses of the human soul. His IQ is off the Richter scale. He has been called impossibly handsome. Women delight in his company. His eloquence shames lesser men. He writes beautifully. He moves in the elite, cultured circles of Europe and North America. He has a house in Provence. His French is polished.

For those Liberals seeking the messianic new face last provided by Pierre Trudeau four decades ago, Mr. Ignatieff—who worked as a student on the Trudeau leadership campaign—is the prize.”

Impressive. But I think we deserve better from this “product of Anglo-Canadian elitism and privilege” than the petty slagging of us Conservatives as incapable of the truth, and shamefully implying that we “…want a Canada where the colour of your skin, the language you speak, the country you originated from determines how well you survive this economic downtown.” How dare he?

What sort of a man would say such things? Certainly not one that I would want as a future prime minister.

10 comments — This is a moderated blog and comments will appear when approved. Please don’t resubmit if your comment doesn’t appear immediately, and please do not post material that is obscene, harassing, defamatory, or otherwise objectionable.

  1. No, we'd rather have a corn-fed rube take time from milking his cows to run the country.

    What does 'elitist' mean to you? Why wouldn't we want a cultured, intellectual academic to run the country? Why wouldn't we want someone who is, or strives to be, an elite? Who ELSE would we want?

    Is it really a race to the bottom?

    ReplyDelete
  2. David,

    My Oxford dictionary defines elitist as "a person who believes that a system or organization should be ruled or dominated by an elite."

    There are many accomplished cultured intellectuals who are not elitists—those are the ones I want to be our leaders.

    ReplyDelete
  3. ''No, we'd rather have a corn-fed rube take time from milking his cows to run the country.''

    And there you have it David, the reason Liberals are in the toilet and about to be flushed. People like you.

    You Liberals are absolutely convinced you are better than anyone else.
    That mere farmers or ditch diggers or grocery clerks are stupid and beneath 'your kind'.

    Enjoy opposition with 'your kind' of leader.

    wilson

    ReplyDelete
  4. David, I have to agree with Wilson. I'm a trilingual, well traveled, university educated engineer. That pretty much fits your description of a "cultured intellectual", right? And yet, I would rather hang with "a corn-fed rube take[ing] time from milking his cows to run the country" than an elitist bigot like yourself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You guys would rather have that person running the country. That is the problem with the right, as evidence by the GOP down south.

    There is nothing wrong with hoping that the elite members of society - the educated, intelligent, experienced, ambitious - to lead the country.

    Just being honest:

    "David, I have to agree with Wilson."

    I'm shocked.

    Just because you'd rather 'hang' with the guy doesn't mean you should prefer him to run the country, and just being trilingual, well-traveled and university educated doesn't mean you're an intellectual, or that you have an appreciation of culture.

    ReplyDelete
  6. And, David, just being an intellectual and cultured does not make someone a great statesman.

    Being well-educated, intelligent, experienced and ambitious helps, but elitism goes well beyond that. We welcome the former, but not the latter.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What is the difference then? What is an elite to you? Is it not someone who is at the top of the merit pile?

    The best person for the job is likely to be the person who is intelligent, motivated, experienced, well-educated, ambitious and at the top of the merit heap. Is that not someone who is elite? Why would we drive for the bottom of the pile all the time? Why bother spending money and effort to produce elites, just to ignore them?

    At this point you should just come out and say that 'elite' means, to you, 'uppity', 'snooty', 'pretentious', 'arrogant', or something like that. That's not the meaning that everyone else uses, but it would sure clear things up.

    ReplyDelete
  8. "And, David, just being an intellectual and cultured does not make someone a great statesman."

    It's a good start - and it's a far better start than most.

    ReplyDelete
  9. David, you keep using the word "elite" while I have been using the word "elitist"—they are not synonymous terms.

    One can very well be part of the elite without being an elitist. The antonym of elitist is egalitarian.

    And an egalitarian can very well be a combination of "intelligent, motivated, experienced, well-educated, ambitious and at the top of the merit heap" without being an elitist.

    And, no, I do not believe that elite means "uppity, snooty, pretentious, arrogant, or something like that." Elitism, on the other hand, is a philosophy or state of mind and yes, "elitists" often possess some or all of those characteristics.

    My everyday guidance in the use of these words is The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1999).

    That's about all I can say on this and will move on now. Thanks for the discussion.

    ReplyDelete

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