02.21.2014 10:02 PM

Ignatieff on Canada: “the United States is a more democratic society”

Yes, he really said that, and in an article slated to be published during the Liberal Party’s convention.

That’s a quote: “The United States is a more democratic society.”

Wow. Remembers everything, learns nothing.


  1. RougeBueuMandroid says:

    The “nobody had ever seen anything like me” speaks volumes about the ego and disposition of a soooo… 1980’s material historian- a darling talking head of all things political of the CIRCA 1980‘s BBC.
    A stalwart neo liberal apologist –following Berlin, with all the airs and sensibilities one would expect from a White Russian Aristocrat. I imagine he is still a persona non grata following his ‘torture’ rationality post 911 in most “intellectual” progressive circles still today in the UK and in the USA. He has left behind a realpolitk residual vapor trail within three different nations over the last 20 years. Perhaps, his next move could be Scotland?

  2. drobo says:

    That’s a misquote. A little more context shows: It may be that the United States is a more democratic society, much less deferential toward artistry, art, academic success all that kind of stuff. A lot of my book is saying that it’s in America that you see just how crucial it is to earn your standing by showing that you’re one with the people.

    The context seems to be about the existence of intellectual politicians, and how the media treats people with certain kinds of accomplishments.

    • Warren says:

      Really? I was the one who provided the link to the full article, idiot. It’s what he said.

      • John says:

        And I don’t mean to come down too hard. The man does plenty to make you wonder what on earth he is thinking elsewhere in the interview. You don’t need to distort Ignatieff’s words in order to make him look badly here. Let him speak, in full sentences, such as:

        On himself: “I was a completely non-standard item [in Canada], nobody had ever seen anything like me, and I don’t think they’ll see anything like me for quite some time.”

        On supporting a broad consensus opinion adopted by all the major US media and the US government: “I’m proud of the fact that I’ve taken tough positions on tough issues and told them the way I saw them, and I’m proud that I’ve been in the public debate, but it was a mistake to assume that anything good could happen at the hands of Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld.”

        On recommending an academic for service in office: “I’ve always thought Anne-Marie Slaughter would make a fantastic United States Senator or something.”

        Or something? WTF? The truth here is bad enough, no need to bend it for partisan purposes.

    • Sezme says:

      Well, anyway you slice it, it comes up billshit.

  3. Al says:

    Doesn’t learn or doesn’t care? I get the feeling by reading this piece that, now that his little self-enrichment experiment is over, he couldn’t care less about the impact such statements could have. Here’s to hoping he’s right and we never do see anything like him leading the Liberals again.

  4. Steve T says:

    Flag-waving aside, I think there are “more democratic” aspects on both sides of the border.

    (a) U.S. – Senators and Congressmen are not sheep, like MPs and (most) Senators are in Canada. In the U.S., they can (and often do) vote away from party lines.

    (b) Canada – MPs and Senators are not in the pockets of their donors to nearly the same extent as in the U.S.. In the U.S., if you don’t suck up to your donors, and pay them back in huge political favors, you never make it as a politician.

    So, in the context of Iggy’s comment (being “one with the people”), I think (b) is more important, and therefore Iggy is wrong.

  5. Egghead says:

    There is even more context to the quote than some of the commenters above have pointed out.

    Ignatieff is being asked to place Canada on a spectrum between the United States and the United Kingdom. When he says “the United States is a more democratic society”, he could be making the contrast primarily to the U.K. And even if he also means that Canada is in a way less democratic than the U.S., by the same token he’s clearly saying that it’s more like the U.S. in that respect than the U.K.

    Either way, he’s clearly talking about “democratic” here is a pretty narrow sense, having to do with populist politics, deference to social elites, etc.

    So when he says “United States is a more democratic society, much less deferential toward artistry, art, academic success all that kind of stuff” he’s clearly correct in some ways, if you just look at the culture. But the full context of the discussion also shows that he’s criticizing BOTH the U.S. and Canada in this area versus the U.K.

    • Swervin' Merv says:

      I also read this part of the interview as primarily a contrast between the U.S. and Britain. Canada seemed to be included in the general “American” reference (“much more on the U.S. spectrum”), but Ignatieff often turns “America” into a more specific “United States” when speaking in a U.S. location.

  6. Sean says:

    Well here is a provocative thought for you… The United States IS a more democratic state than Canada.

  7. Sezme says:

    End of the day, the Libs would have been better off sticking with Dion and suffering the consequences than stabbing him in the back and promoting this guy. Even with his imperfect English (hello, Jean C) Dion was 100 times more understandable than Iggy.

  8. Mike Adamson says:

    The article confirms that MI is a pretentious twat but at least the quote in question is wrong.

  9. Sylvia says:

    Perhaps he meant: “The United States is a more Democratic voting society.”…… which is true. Canada was a “Liberal voting” society once too and now it’s a triple split voting nation. We badly need political consolidation on the centre-left and the only way that will happen if the Liberals and/or NDP fail badly in the next election and we have another majority Conservative government.

    If Trudeau can’t lift the Liberals to at least official opposition status he will be gone, and if Mulcair can’t hold on to the Quebec vote, he too will be gone. Perhaps both Trudeau and Mulcair must be gone for the Liberals and NDP to finally merge into a significant centre-left political choice in Canada. Hobbling along with two political delusions will only assure Conservative victories, and that’s the bitter reality facing Canadians.

  10. dave says:

    Well, USA does try to keep the legislative and executive branches apart from each other. We seem to have them both in one office.

  11. William says:

    Sadly he’s right.

    At lest the President has Congress to offset him.

    Nobody can stop a PM with a majority.

  12. John says:

    Canada has a form of government that is best described as elected dictatorship. Once the Prime Minister is in office, he can do as he pleases, unless he loses a no confidence vote, or until the five-year term of Parliament expires, and he is forced to call new elections. Except in the case of a minority government, a no confidence vote is rarely successful. MPs who disobey the Prime Minister can be kicked out of the party. The Prime Minister may, on his own say so, declare war and prorogue Parliament. Parliament may override the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms at will, pursuant to the notwithstanding clause. And what about the Senate? It is nothing but a group of affirmative action hacks and political cronies of the Prime Minister, appointed to a cushy job until they reach age 75. So stop condemning a Canadian who has the nerve to speak the truth. Of course, the United States is more democratic than Canada.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *