All Posts Tagged With: "michael ignatieff"
Leader recalls great teachers, friendships and… manure?
The 2013 Maclean’s University Rankings asked some of Canada’s most successful writers, politicians and scientists what they wish they’d known in university. Their answers are perfect additions to our First Year Survivor blog. Here’s advice from Bob Rae, former premier of Ontario and interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
I came to University College, University of Toronto, in the fall of 1966, studied modern history, and graduated with a B.A. in 1969. In the first week I was assigned by the seniors in residence late one night to find a bucket of horse manure, which meant figuring out where the police stables were.
Former politician to split time between U of T and Harvard
Former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff is taking half-time teaching posts at Harvard and the University of Toronto.
Ignatieff joins the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto with a half-time appointment as professor this month.
In January he is to assume a half-time appointment as professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School.
The 65-year-old academic and author had already been teaching some courses at the University of Toronto.
Former colleagues surprised by attack ads; point out Ignatieff was a popular and celebrated academic
Some of Michael Ignatieff’s past Ivy League colleagues were surprised the former Liberal leader was so relentlessly criticized during the federal election for the time he spent outside Canada, noting that he was a popular and celebrated academic during his time at Harvard, according to the Boston Globe.
Ignatieff left his position at Harvard to run for a seat in Parliament in 2006. He has also taught at Cambridge, Oxford, the University of California, the University of London and the London School of Economics.
“To me, it’s a puzzle why Michael, who is one of the most charismatic people I know, would be presented the way he was presented in Canada, as some sort of carpetbagger,” Fotini Christia, an assistant professor at MIT who was Ignatieff’s teaching assistant for four years at Harvard, told the Boston Globe.
Graham Allison, a professor and administrator at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, was angered that Ignatieff was portrayed as unpatriotic and “just visiting” by attack ads during the election. “He is a Canadian, he was a proud Canadian at Harvard, and would introduce himself as a proud Canadian, and he comes from a proud Canadian family, so that’s more of a political rap,” Allison said.
However, some admitted that they were worried when he announced that he was leaving the ivory tower to run for a seat in Parliament, and saw the criticisms launched against him as rather predictable.
“The biggest obstacle he faced was the perception that he was a recent returnee to his native land who wasn’t really qualified to run the entire country,’’ said Stephen M Walt, a Kennedy School professor and friend of Ignatieff’s. “[ … ] It did seem like something of a long shot to have been outside the country for so long and to go back with the clear intention of gaining the prime ministership relatively quickly.”
When asked by the Globe and Mail why he did not respond to attack ads, Ignatieff said that he and his party responded “with the resources we had.”
“I was aware from the minute I entered politics that I had to control the narrative of my life. I did my best to do that. There’s no question that I failed. But the idea that I sat there not trying to reply is not right,” Ignatieff said.
“I tried to reply with the resources I had personally and with the resources that the party had, and I’ll always regret that my inability to control that narrative had an impact on the fortunes of other people.”
Ignatieff has recently accepted a senior resident position with the University of Toronto’s Massey College. Notable politicians to hold the position in the past include Pierre Trudeau, former Ontario premier Bob Rae, and former Reform party leader Preston Manning.
New poll data shows young voters aren’t any more likely to vote for Layton. It’s everyone else who is.
The NDP is surging in Quebec and many point to the party’s popularity among young voters as the reason why. Jack Layton’s progressive message, the logic goes, makes him stand out as a legitimate alternative to Gilles Duceppe among left-leaning voters.
But here’s a problem with that storyline: data from the Historica-Dominion Institute’s poll of young voters suggests there isn’t an NDP surge among Quebec youth at all. Its 2011 Inter-generational Study shows young Quebecers are no more likely to vote NDP now than they were in 2008. Back then, the party captured a mere 12 per cent of the vote in Quebec.
The Historica-Dominion survey gathered the opinions of 831 youth aged 18 to 24, including 189 from Quebec. The NDP was the most popular party among young voters in Quebec, capturing 27 per cent support, while the Liberals got 23 per cent, the Bloc Québécois got 21 per cent, and the Conservatives came last with 8 per cent. (For more results from the study, including a look at which issues matter to young voters, read the next issue of Maclean’s.) Those figures are virtually unchanged from the Institute’s 2008 Youth Election Study, which found 27 per cent of young Quebecers leaning toward the NDP, another 27 per cent supporting the Bloc, 20 per cent behind the Liberals, and 7 per cent leaning Tory.
The youth numbers also mirror last week’s EKOS and CROP polls, give or take a few points. “That seems to indicate the rest of the population is catching up to the youth in considering the NDP rather than a youth surge,” says Allison Harell, a political scientist at the University of Quebec at Montreal. That may be good news for Jack Layton. If his support is more broadly distributed across age groups, she adds, it may translate into more votes on election day. Historically, only about a third of Canadian youth end up voting, compared to nearly two-thirds of the electorate overall.
The big question is whether the current NDP supporters—young or not—will change their minds before election day. Houda Souissi, a 21-year-old labour law student at the University of Montreal has already switched back to Duceppe after a brief dalliance with Layton. After scrutinizing the NDP record, she worries an NDP government could take away provincial powers. She’s also turned-off by Layton’s stance on the long gun registry. Most importantly, she’s wary of inexperienced MPs. “I don’t want to say they’re nobodies,” she says. “But outside of Outremont, we don’t really know who the NDP candidates are.”
Souissi’s worries may be moot come May 3. If the NDP’s surge in the polls translates into actual votes, the party’s Quebec candidates could be well on their way to becoming decidedly mainstream among voters of all ages.
UWO student ejected from Harper rally for Facebook picture with Ignatieff
All you F-35 Joint Strike Fighter naysayers—this’ll make you bite your tongues. After all, the proof is in the pudding, and just this past weekend, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives proved the need to stay vigilant against enemies, many of whom can appear in even the most innocuous of forms.
Of course, I’m talking about 19-year-old University of Western Ontario student Awish Aslam, who managed to infiltrate a Harper rally in London on Sunday despite having a Facebook picture of her with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff. The audacity, I know. How the undecided voter managed to get in, I’m not sure; but she and a friend were escorted out of the rally shortly after signing in.
According to Aslam, a man led them to a back room, tore up their name tags, and told them they weren’t welcome at the event. “We were confused,” Aslam told the London Free Press. “He said, ‘We know you guys have ties to the Liberal party through Facebook.’”
I don’t know how many times we must drill this message home, but students: Please exercise discretion when posting things online! Yes, you may have a night where you down too many beers with friends and decide to ‘Like’ the Canadian Learning Passport on the Liberal Facebook page, but others will notice your actions! And it goes further than that. Every time you sign onto Farmville and don’t post a comment about the long-gun registry, know you’re making a political statement. For every occasion you send a ‘Poke,’ you should be requesting a fitness tax credit. And finally, never, ever, ever, refer to a group message as a “Coalition.” Vague insinuations are fine, though.
All parties want to encourage the youth vote, of course, but they can’t help it if young people disenfranchise themselves through mistakes like these. Young people should know better than to explore their political options before casting a vote –and worse yet–posting a totally meaningless picture online. Remember: don’t chew Big Red on Harper’s turf, unless you plan to stick it on the bottom of your shoe.
If Ignatieff wants to help students, targeted funds are better than washing everyone with money
Releasing part of his education platform this week — attractively titled the Learning Passport — Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff promised up to $1,500 for every post-secondary student in Canada to help offset the rising costs of a university education. The money would be a grant, issued to every student, to help pay for university.
Quite frankly, the idea is not thought out very well.
$1 billion is a lot of money, especially for students who, by and large, are broke. But not all students are broke and not all students are in need. Canada Student Loans, through its needs-based scholarships and bursaries programs, collects a lot of data outlining which students are in need of funds and which are doing just fine on their own.
In their own words:
“In 2006-2007, the CSLP provided over $1.9 billion in full- and part-time student loans to approximately 345,000 students and awarded $141.8 million in non-repayable Canada Study Grants and Canada Access Grants (87,368 grants).”
By taking that billion dollars and applying it to needs-based grants instead of washing everyone in cash, Ignatieff could be boosting grants to students by more than seven times while maintaining needs-based loans at existing levels. Tuition fees at Canada’s post-secondary institutions have more than tripled since the early 1990s and in some provinces it has quintupled. And it’s only rising. Student debt in Canada is spiralling out of control, limiting participation in larger life events like cars and houses.
Ignatieff is right to invest in post-secondary education and right to try to improve access to those institutions. But blindly throwing money at the problem is the wrong approach. Targeted financing could do much to reduce student debt and improve access, if only Michael were smart enough to realize it.
Rebuffs Liberal leader’s condemnation of Israel Apartheid Week, saying Israel is guilty of genocide
Remember the Queen’s University rector who used a Remembrance Day address to air his own political pet peeves?
Well it seems Rector Nick Day is back at it. After Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff recently released a statement condemning Israeli Apartheid Week, which is taking place on Canadian and international campuses this week, Day released some words of his own, calling Ignatieff’s statement “deeply unethical” in a note posted on his Facebook page and sent to Rabble.ca.
UPDATE: Queen’s Rector faces impeachment
In his letter to the Liberal leader, Day does make some fair points about the right to hold open dialogue on the Israel/Palestine issue, but also delves into his own personal position on the issue, arguing that Israel “operates a discriminatory judicial system in Palestine” and is the perpetrator of “perhaps the biggest human rights tragedy of my generation.” (Was the Rwandan genocide last generation?)
He goes on to slam Ignatieff’s original statement, cautioning the Liberal leader that if he continues to condemn “critique of the genocide happening in Palestine, you and the party you lead are complicit in that genocide.”
Curiously, he also adds:
I was elected to represent the approximately 20,000 students of Queen’s University. If I ever used the influence of my office and the power of my public voice, as you have [. . .] I would have a very difficult time sleeping at night.
Shall we play “Spot the Irony?”
Nick Day has every right to hold any political position he desires, and the freedom to express his opinions openly. The problem, though, is when he signs his name as “rector,” he no longer just speaks for himself. And when speaking for 20,000 students, it is negligent and unjust to take a strong position on an issue that is so politically divisive.
Day could’ve sent the exact same letter in response to Michael Ignatieff’s statement. But instead of signing it, “Nick Day, Rector,” he should have signed it, “Nick Day, student.”
Michael Ignatieff ignores the fact that there are already too many people with degrees
If you’ve been reading the funnies lately, and by that I mean the political pages, you know that the Liberals and Conservatives have been squabbling over the issue of corporate tax cuts.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and his band of brothers set out Wednesday to peddle the merits of “tax relief for job creators,” while Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff announced his pledge to roll back corporate tax breaks to 2010 levels if elected and instead invest in education. “We think the way to create jobs is invest in post-secondary education and help small and medium enterprises to become more competitive and take on more workers,” he said during a scrum.
If you ask the Conservatives, reducing corporate taxes will stimulate business investment, thereby encouraging growth and competition. According to Jack Mintz, head of the public policy school at the University of Calgary, the tax cut from 16.5 per cent to 15 per cent will generate an estimated $30-billion in investment funds and 102,500 new jobs over seven years. However, according to the Liberals and some labour economists, Canada’s corporate tax rates are already internationally competitive. They argue that the cut will hurt Ottawa’s bottom line and will not necessarily amount to real long term benefits–which is a fair point, in my opinion.
But while Ignatieff’s pledge might spawn warm fuzzies in the hearts of students and professors, it is misleading in several ways.
The idea that pumping more money into post-secondary education is a way to create more jobs ignores a fundamental condition of unemployment among new grads in Canada. While American president, Barack Obama pitched the same idea during his State of the Union address, the educational barriers in this country aren’t nearly as dire as they are the U.S. in terms of financial responsibility. Contrary to what some blue-in-the-face placard-pumpers might tell you, if you want a post-secondary education in Canada and you’re bright enough to pass a few tests, you can probably get one. The number of university enrollments has been steadily increasing over the past several years, meaning more and more individuals are getting post-secondary degrees. Therefore, the problem in Canada is not a poorly-funded system resulting in a lack of access, but rather, a surplus of educated people.
This surplus means that there is increased competition for jobs. A Statistics Canada study looked at university graduates in 2001 and found that nearly one in five worked a job that required a high school education at most. Many other grads nowadays still struggle to find work in their fields. Take teaching, for example. In 2010, the Globe and Mail reported that while about 6,500 new jobs for teachers becomes available in Ontario annually, the Ontario College of Teachers certified 12,774 new teachers in 2008, and another 9,100 in 2009. That’s a lot of competition for a few coveted positions.
The opposition leader escapes a lie through clever snobbery.
Michael Ignatieff raised eyebrows this week when he proudly credited good old Canadian publicly-funded education for helping him get his start in life.
Before you could say j’accuse, journalists began pointing out that the young Ignatieff had been sent to Upper Canada College, that bastion of Ontario silver spoonery where school boys learn to be Old Boys. After that, the smarmy story kind of writes itself: Ignatieff, the PhD-toting, book-publishing, Harvard-professing elitist has pretended to be one of us.
Ignatieff’s handlers quickly fought back, saying that the Leader was referring to his education at the publicly funded University of Toronto, not UCC.
The problem is, the explanation only makes Ignatieff seem like more of an elitist. Only professors refer to the start of their education as the place where they earned their undergraduate degrees. If someone asks me where I was educated, I start with The University of Western Ontario, not Grandview Public School. Why? Because in the circles I travel in, elementary and secondary school is where you bide your time until you are ready for a real education. No doubt Ignatieff was thinking along the same lines.
But most Canadians don’t get a university degree, let alone three, so the real political problem is not that Ignatieff was lying about his past, but rather that he was speaking in a register that most people don’t understand. That’s fine with me, but then, nobody wants to vote for me, either.
Pundit says Ignatieff may take up top post at Munk School of Global Affairs; Ignatieff denies report
Toronto Star columnist James Travers reported Thursday that Michael Ignatieff may be considering an exit plan from politics back to academia if the next election doesn’t go his way. His sources say that Ignatieff is “being touted as an eventual successor to Janice Gross Stein,” head of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.
Later Thursday, on a summer tour stop in Peterborough, Ignatieff called the report “fiction.” He says that the only job he’s after is Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s.
Although Ignatieff may not have had any formal discussions about landing at the University of Toronto post-politics, it wouldn’t be unreasonable for him to have had at least fleeting thoughts about life after the next election, considering the Liberals’ sagging popularity. When he returned to Canada in 2005 he was set to take a fellowship at the prestigious Munk School, but instead ran for office when an election was called. After his 2006 loss to Stephane Dion for party leadership, rumours that he’d return to academia again surfaced.
Meanwhile at the Munk School, the well-respected foreign affairs analyst Stein is set to step down, and a wide-reaching search for her successor will kick off in the fall. The Star’s sources says that the university would “welcome Ignatieff’s return if he chooses to fill the post offered in 2005” and that talks were informal through his connections to the school. The search for Stein’s replacement could take a year or more.
Ignatieff doesn’t deny having been in contact with Stein and the school’s benefactor Peter Munk, but he says their discussions had nothing to do with potential job prospects.
As Travers opines, Ignatieff is unlikely to elaborate on any post-politics plans. “Parties as well as voters expect total commitment from leaders,” he writes. “Wavering always erodes support and is particularly corrosive for Ignatieff, who Conservatives relentlessly position as a dilettante in politics for himself.”
Nevertheless, Ignatieff categorically dismissed Travers’ column, saying there’s no truth whatsoever to the speculation: “[Star columnist] Jim Travers is a good journalist, but he’s starting to write fiction here … I really don’t know where he got it from.”
Yearly campus event denounced by politicians as a ruse for racism
Israeli Apartheid Week, held annually on university campuses around the world, has always provoked a strong reaction and this year Canada’s politicians are denouncing the event that began Monday. Later this week, Edmonton Conservative MP Tim Uppal will put forward a motion calling on the House of Commons to unanimously recognize that Israeli Apartheid Week is a ruse for anti-Semitism.
The proposed motion reads: “That this House considers itself to be a friend of the State of Israel; that this House is concerned about expressions of anti-Semitism under the guise of “Israeli Apartheid Week”; and that this House explicitly condemns any action in Canada as well as internationally that would equate the State of Israel with the rejected and racist policy of apartheid.”
A similar motion was passed by the Ontario Provincial Parliament in late February, where all present members supported a motion put forward by Tory MPP Peter Shurman. Shurman told the Toronto Star that he would like to see the name changed. “Israeli Apartheid Week is not a dialogue, it’s a monologue and it is an imposition of a view by the name itself—the name is hateful, it is odious.” Similar sentiments were expressed by both Liberal and NDP members of the provincial legislature.
On Monday of this week, federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff released a statement that would seem to suggest that the Liberal party will endorse Uppal’s proposed motion. “The very premise of Israeli Apartheid Week runs counter to our shared values of mutual respect and tolerance, regardless of nationality, race or creed. It is an attempt to heighten the tensions in our communities around the tragic conflict in the Middle East,” Ignatieff said.
As for the event itself, at York University, where tensions caused by the event have often run the highest, the Excalibur reported today that so far Israeli Apartheid Week has been civil. The Excalibur also reported that York’s president Mamdouh Shoukri encouraged students to not use the event to engage in racist behaviour. “Political activism is no excuse for racism, intimidation or hatred of any kind,” he said.
Liberal leader wants a dedicated transfer for post-secondary education
On the seventh stop of his cross-country tour of Canadian campuses, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was given a hard time by students at the University of Manitoba. Seconds after the leader of the opposition started his presentation, a massive banner was rolled down from the second floor of the U of M’s Drake Centre brandished with a list of challenges facing Canadian students. After a few minutes, Ignatieff asked that the banner be removed because it was blocking the view of several audience members.
Despite the disturbance, Ignatieff went on with the event, opening the floor to questions from students after briefly criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for proroguing Parliament.
While speaking to the university crowd, Ignatieff repeatedly emphasized that the federal government needs to prioritize education. “This is the engine room of the Canadian economy, and we need to put gas in the tank,” he said.
Ignatieff also says he advocates implementing a dedicated federal transfer for higher education. Presently, the federal education transfer is lumped in with the Canada Social Transfer, and there are no stipulations ensuring the money is actually spent on education, rather than falling into general revenue. “We have to have a way as a country to say: how do we prioritize education?” Ignatieff said.
Ignatieff says that students are not only living through a recession, but living through a “restructuring of the global economy,” saying that this is one of the main reasons why it’s important for the federal government to invest in “brain power.” The leader of the opposition also indicated that some of the operating costs of university research should be met by the federal government. He accused the Conservatives of funding capital projects to build labs but then failing to adequately operating costs. “We need a national strategy that says this kind of research is crucial to our economic future.”
Ignatieff also says that this doesn’t mean that every research project should be funded. “We need to have a national strategy in which we say, not everyone can be funded here, lets get peer review, the scientists in the field to decide who should get [funded].”
While speaking at Dalhousie University earlier this week, Ignatieff cautiously endorsed distributing federal funding on a per-student basis. As is, the size of the education transfer does not take into consideration the number of students actually educated within a province. It is based on population.
This funding model could potentially hurt provinces like Manitoba, which takes in disproportionately fewer out-of-province students, while provinces like Nova Scotia that take in disproportionately more out-of-province students, would benefit from the change. Ignatieff also endorsed this idea in a pamphlet distributed to Liberal party members during his unsuccessful 2006 bid for the Liberal leadership.
However, when asked about a federal per student funding model at the University of Manitoba, Ignatieff dismissed it. “You’re taking me further than I think the Liberal party is prepared to go. . . We respect provincial jurisdictions in education.” Although, Ignatieff did leave the option of a federal per student transfer open, saying, “I think we should explore the question.”
Ignatieff is visiting 11 university campuses across the country this week to kick off the Canada at 150 conference to be held in Montreal at the end of March.
Liberal leader kicks off “non-partisan” Canada at 150 conference at a university near you
In case you haven’t heard, Michael Ignatieff is coming to your campus. Why? Well, according to the Liberal leader, “Our country’s future is being shaped on our college and university campuses, by the energy and ingenuity of our young people.” The vast majority of young people never go to university, and they are scattered about the population mixed in with old people. So the easiest way to look like you’re in tune with the under 30 crowd is to go find a group of social science undergrads and have a “conversation” with them.
The cross-country campus tour is intended to kick off the Canada at 150: Rising to the Challenge conference, to be held in Montreal at the end of March. The conference, weirdly billed as non-partisan, is not to be confused with the 150!Canada Conference being held in Ottawa a few weeks earlier. My guess is if your tastes are truly non-partisan, and you only have the chance to go to one, you should go to the earlier conference, which is being hosted by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada.
Some people are pleased to see that the Liberal party is trying to play to Ignatieff’s strengths as an intellectual guy and supposed deep thinker. And, I suppose that insomuch that that is his strength it should not be hidden. But, I am just not sure that Ignatieff’s previous career as an academic and journalist should be a strength.
Canadian political leaders are tasked principally with leading the party in Parliament. The ability to gain the support of caucus, put together a coherent legislative agenda, or, as in the case of the opposition, provide a credible alternative legislative agenda, is what is needed. There is no reason to think that a career in academia prepares you for this. This is not to suggest that academics should not enter politics, but they still have to learn how to be a politician the same as everybody else. Academia might prepare you to analyze the workings of Parliament, but that is not the same thing as actually being in Parliament, let alone being prime minister.
Ignatieff’s excellent proposal: university funding should follow students across provincial borders
From the Halifax Chronicle Herald’s Q&A with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff:
Q: Post-secondary funding goes to where the student comes from rather than where the student goes to school. Would you change that if you had the chance?
A: I think we should. It won’t be easy because provinces from which the students originate will make a claim that it should stay with them. But I think we ought to encourage and reward the universities that actually attract students from out of province, and there’s a nation-building reason for that. It’s not merely (that) you want to reward Atlantic Canada for having good universities, but you also want to give Canadians, young Canadians, a national experience.
One of the things that builds a nation is, you know, if someone is born in Ontario, spends some time in Atlantic Canada, someone in Atlantic Canada spends some time out in Calgary. So we ought to have a financing system that incentivizes that, that encourages (us) to create a generation of Canadians that have national experience.
Provinces like Nova Scotia get the short end of the stick in the current system. The province has such a strong network of successful universities that it attracts thousands of students from across the country — but instead of that being a success story, it’s a budgetary problem for Nova Scotia. Why? Because when a B.C. student goes to school at St. Francis Xavier or Dalhousie, B.C.’s higher education tax dollars (and federal dollars transfered to BC) don’t follow that student. The government of Nova Scotia, a net importer of students, ends up footing the bill. As a result, Nova Scotia’s most successful industry—higher education—is a drain on the province’s budget and a perennial problem. The system’s upside down.
This idea of having funding follow university students has been around for decades. I was advocating it way back in the last century, when I was writing Globe and Mail editorials. But it’s never had a chance to grow tired. It’s never been tried.