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The Bob Rae and Iggy controversy

I’ve been pondering an issue on the Canadian political landscape that’s wreaking havoc in the Liberal party – why did Michael Ignatieff, writer and intellectual, suddenly decide to muscle into the political arena that had for decades belonged to his university roommate and putative best friend Bob Rae?  It smacks to me of “Anything you can do, I can do better.”  And as someone who’s allergic to that kind of competitiveness, I have been feeling sorry for Rae, who’s a compassionate and capable man.  I sent the following email today to Judith Timson, the “Globe” columnist who recently wrote an article about the two men:  

Ms. Timson, I’m a fan of yours from way back.  But I don’t understand why you and other commentators remark on the Rae/Ignatieff battle as if both men are equally responsible.  The fact is that Ignatieff made a very successful life for himself as a public intellectual, professor and writer.  Bob was always the politician.  What prompted Ignatieff to look at Rae’s life and say, “I want that”?  Most writers wouldn’t want in a million years to become politicians, but Ignatieff then suddenly returned to Canada to embark on a career in direct competition with his so-called friend.  Bob Rae did not announce that he would write books or try for Iggy’s job at Harvard; it’s Ignatieff who made the aggressive and competitive move.  

It would be a nightmare for me if my best friends from university, whom I love and admire, decided to throw themselves into my exact line of work in my home town.  I admire them because they’re smart and energetic and talented women – the last thing I want to see looming on the horizon of my job.  I feel for Bob. 

There’s way too much winter here already.  I heard one guy say to another this afternoon, “It’s too #$% cold.  Who’s the guy who called this in? I’m going to have to kiss his ass!” I agree.  



7 Responses to “The Bob Rae and Iggy controversy”

  1. ch says:

    Actually, Ignatieff became involved in the Liberal Party before Rae and ran in the 2006 election. Ignatieff had been actively involved in the party decades earlier when he worked with Trudeau and others. If this is rivalry, it is not obvious who is jumping in after who.

  2. beth says:

    Ch, thank you for your reply. I was pointing out that politics have been Rae’s life whereas Ignatieff had a minor involvement in his youth before going on to many other things. Then suddenly he returned to Canada and leapt in.

    And there’s no reason why he shouldn’t. In the end, it doesn’t matter who is undercutting whom here. The sad thing is that they are both highly intelligent, capable men whose visceral battle with each other is damaging the party and the Canadian political landscape. It’s a Eugene O’Neil play – brothers intent on destroying each other while their mutual enemy enjoys the scene.

  3. Unknown says:

    I do not think that Ignatieff was the initiator of his entry into politics. It was the clique behind closed doors who brought him in. What their hidden agenda is is anyones guess, but I doubt that it is for the benefit of the Liberal party. The closed door policy of that group still continues from the initial foray when they nominated Ignatieff as the rep for Etobicoke and during the time period that was allocated for other people to apply they closed the office doors so as not to let anyone else apply. I guess that it would be fair to have the theme of Ignatieff to be the song “Who’s that hidding behind the green door”

  4. beth says:

    Dear Lise (Lees? I had a Russian teacher for a few years and love that alphabet but have forgotten a lot…)
    I have entered a controversial arena here, obviously. Your note sounds ominous, but I know nothing about such a clique. If their goal is world domination they haven’t been doing too well this last while!

  5. ch says:

    Fair enough. This competition has gathered a bit of attention. Here is a post with some sources quoted:


  6. beth says:

    An interesting website. I disagree with most of the writer’s opinions, but I do think he has nailed the background of the Rae/Ignatieff struggle. And as he says, the drama will keep us riveted.

    I just wish I didn’t get the the feeling that Iggy is a hawk, cold, aloof, arrogant and conservative. We already have the cold, aloof, arrogant, ultra-Conservative Stephen Harper; we don’t need another one. But so far, though Iggy may be running as a Liberal, I don’t get much that’s liberal from him. Too much time in the U.S., perhaps, where liberal used to be a dirty word.

    Not any more, I hope. Thanks for that among so many other things, Obama.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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