Ignatieff's Blind Spot

Posted on Monday, July 10 at 16:21 by robertjb
But when he was asked a question on the issue of sovereignty, part of his reply was that we have a huge obligation where the Americans are concerned, and he supposed to the audience that we are fortunate our country was not planted adjacent to Russia. There can be no doubt that we have benefited greatly from our proximity to the US. But it can also be argued we have paid a huge price in terms of sovereignty. The US has also benefited hugely from our presence as it has always had a benign satellite nation buttressing its northern border. We supply the US with huge exports of natural gas and petroleum and other resources. We have a much celebrated free trade relationship with them. But as we have seen with the pending softwood lumber agreement it has more to do captive trade than free trade. The softwood lumber agreement is not an example of comity between nations but a poke in the eye. Harper’s government should be ashamed to go public with such an agreement. If we want to play the supposition game the US is lucky to have Canada rather than China or a bloated version of Afghanistan on its northern perimeter. We only grow the world’s best pot; the Afghan’s do the really hard stuff-heroin! Ignatieff suffers the malady that is endemic to our political elites- an unswerving deference to American wishes. Prior to becoming a leadership candidate he has drawn the indignation of his academic peers for his support of US foreign policy-at a time more than ever when US foreign policy has left that country's international reputation sadly tarnished and hardly defensible. In his book America on the Edge, Henry Giroux, a distinguished US academic now living in Canada, states: American support for the invasion of Iraq and the “outsourcing of torture” are now defended at least in principle in the name of righteous causes, even by liberals such as Naill Ferguson and Michael Ignatieff, who like their neoconservative counterparts, revel in the notion that American power can be a force for progress. International political analyst Mariano Aquirre states: Ignatieff and others of his ilk have become apologists for the neoconservative crusade. Hence they are indifferent to the endless violations of democracy perpetrated both at home and abroad by the United States. Aquirre elaborates further: Ignatieff chooses to applaud a government that goes to war in defiance of the Security Council, that actively promotes the failure of the United Nations, that refuses to sign international treaties, that opts out of international justice and that ignores human rights in prisons – a government that is violating rather than promoting the Jeffersonian dream. In his militaristic patriotism, Ignatieff is blind and wrong. When Ignatieff speaks he outlines his deep roots within the Liberal party and how in his youth he “worked the floor” on behalf of Pierre Trudeau when he was elected party leader. He likes to portray himself as a Liberal in the Trudeau tradition but that era is conclusively a part of history, as the party and the country have gone through many permutations since then. We are now in the era of neoliberalism and this is an issue that must be addressed. A part of the Liberal tradition that Ignatieff might be less willing to address comes from Canadian political philosopher George Grant (1918-1988). In his 1965 book Lament for a Nation Grant points out that Liberals have been more than happy to preside over the demise of Canadian sovereignty. Insightful Liberal leadership candidates must realize that if they become prime minister their role will be more akin to a provincial governor than leader of a sovereign nation. The Liberal party establishment would no doubt like to keep sovereignty, Canada/US relations and the threat posed by neoliberalism as non issues in the leadership race. But the simple reality is that unless they address these issues they become irrelevant as the Harper Conservatives have out stripped them as the party of national extinction. Harper is the ultimate political groupie willing to prostrate himself before The Empire. Liberal party renewal cannot be some unctuous pallid ritual. It must be real and dynamic. Anything less leaves the party on the scrap heap of history. Leadership candidates must squarely address these issues and Liberals at large must insist they do so. [Proofreader's note: this article was edited for spelling and typos on July 11, 2006]

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