Sunday, December 04, 2005

What colour is his parachute?

Michael Ignatieff continues to be the candidate from the riding of trouble. Parachuted into the Metro Toronto riding of Etobicoke-Lakeshore just before the election call, the scholar and some say future leader of the Liberal party (and even possible future Prime Minister) has had nothing but a troubled entry into federal politics.

Starting with his arrival in the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding, dropped in by the Paul Martin team and heralded as one of their “star” candidates. His decision to see political office was hailed as a day of great achievement for politics, a scholarly man ready to help shape our destiny.

The only drawback was a certain hesitancy of the local Liberals to adopt their newfound representative. Many are convinced that the former MP, Jean Augustine was pushed out of the way to make way for the star, something that Augustine denies (even as rumours run rampant that the Ontario Liberals have a position for her in Ontario) , but yet the image problems continue.

Ukrainian Canadians which make up a portion of the ethnic mix of Etobicoke were in particular less than enamored of their chosen candidate, suggesting that he had a rather nasty anti Ukrainian tone to his beliefs, something that Ignatieff has resolutely denied.

Ignatieff survived a nasty little procedural battle in the riding to secure his nomination, but at the expense of a fair amount of bad feelings amongst some of the local riding residents. There are still calls for a new nomination vote to clear the air once and for all.

Today’s latest bit of trouble revolves around an article he wrote in 2004 for the New York Times magazine, one in which he presented his thoughts on the use of different means to extract information from terrorists. The article entitled Lesser Evils explored a number of interrogation methods that could be used by the military and police to gain useful information from terrorist organizations.

To some his words were a tacit acceptance of torture, at least that‘s the opinion of NDP candidate Marilyn Churley, who has questioned at length the beliefs of Ignatieff. She went so far as to ask on CTV’s Question Period if he still supported the use of torture.

We’re not sure what the local issues in Etobicoke-Lakeshore are, but they certainly look more interesting than the usual themes of paving the roads and local job opportunities. It will be interesting to see how Ignatieff navigates around these contentious issues that have come to haunt his arrival on the political scene. As someone of a bit more substance than many of our wanna be MP's, he certainly seems to have become a lightning rod for controversy in the short time he's been back in the country. One mis-step and the potential leader of tomorrow, could become the has been of yesterday!

As for the colour of that Ignatieff parachute, well it just may be a Crimson Red hue. He says its not packed and ready for use, but many wonder if he should maybe make take it out and make sure it still works.

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