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Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff responds to Helena Guergis's resignation from cabinet on Parliament Hill on April 9, 2010.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff responds to Helena Guergis's resignation from cabinet on Parliament Hill on April 9, 2010.

Bruce Anderson

The political class? Add to ...

I feel like I'm harping on Michael Ignatieff's shortcomings, but mostly I'm somewhat confounded when it comes to his communications skills. A while back, I noted he was using tepid language and describing very modest goals for the country in trying to rally support for his party.

Today, I'm struck by his statements surrounding the Helena Guergis scandal. A few days ago, he was professing outrage at what he was sure was lying by the junior minister. In the wake of her firing/resignation, his tone was considerably different. He signaled that these events didn't offer him any pleasure because they cast a pall over the reputation of everyone in the political class, and that he himself was a "proud member of the political class."

It seems odd to suggest the reputation of all Liberal politicians is under a cloud, because of the cloud hanging over these two Conservatives. That there may be a grain of truth in what he's saying certainly doesn't require him to say it. If people forgive the Conservatives these problems, it will be because of the condition Mr. Ignatieff cites: that people may not think they can expect any better behaviour from other politicians. As a prosecutorial stance, his comment leaves something to be desired.

Even more unusual, is his characterization of himself as someone in the "political class." He's used this term before, including at the recent thinkers conference the Liberals hosted in Montreal. According to some definitions, the term political class was originally coined to describe a "ruling class".

Mr. Ignatieff is someone with great talents as a wordsmith, so one has to surmise that he really does think of people in politics as a somehow different "class" from other people. If he doesn't think that, his advisers should encourage him to stop using this term. If he does, he'd best prepare to explain what he means because he can likely count on hearing his political opponents bring this up as part of a renewed effort to cast him as an elitist.

 

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