Michael Ignatieff's path into politics took another luckless bounce yesterday with the publication of an article in Harvard's student newspaper quoting him as saying he would ask the U.S. university to take him back if he didn't get elected to Parliament.
The statement had "Oh-Oh" written all over it, given that the distinguished academic and celebrity Liberal candidate has made much of being committed to re-engaging in Canadian life and is scheduled next month to take up a University of Toronto post.
Mr. Ignatieff quickly explained in a telephone interview from Boston that the comment was a joke. "I was talking in my customary way, with a lack of care," he said ruefully. "It was meant in a light-hearted humourous way . . . a kind of joke, like I was begging them to take me back."
The Harvard Crimson quoted him deadpan as saying: "If I am not elected, I imagine that I will ask Harvard to take me back. I love teaching here, and I hope I'll be back in some shape or form."
National ties were unimportant to the old royal houses and nobility of Europe. What mattered was having the right bloodline. Thus the practice of intermarriage and moving around to take up titles and thrones. In our own monarchy's history, we have had Danish, French, Welsh, Scottish, Dutch and German monarchs on the throne of England, Russianized Germans as tsars, Austrians and French on the Spanish throne, and Germans becoming Greek royalty who produced the current British consort.
The same attitude seems to be at work inside the Liberal Party with Ignatieff, and the old noble attitude seems to be coming forth. It doesn't matter whether he actually spends any time on his estates or has any real connection to them (George III was elector of Hanover and never set foot in it; his grandfather, George I, could hardly speak English) as long as he has the right political pedigree.
Source: Globe and Mail