Category Archives: politics

Ignatieff’s imperial roots stir trouble on the Ukrainian front

Fellow blogger Steve Janke gets his opinion in the National Post:

Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj’s demotion to the backbenches is proving to be a big deal in the Ukrainian-Canadian community.

A lot of Ukrainian-Canadians are wondering just what Michael Ignatieff really thinks of them.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s strongman prime minister, has not made it a secret that he thinks the Ukraine is part of Russia

Ignatieff has written at length about his Russian heritage, and ran into trouble over passages in one of his books that were criticized as dismissive of the Ukraine’s claim to statehood. A University of Calgary thesis on Ignatieff’s writings noted:

You don’t have to be paranoid to think that Ignatieff, the scion of Russian nobility, is depriving Ukrainians of a soapbox to criticize Russia. You just have to be Ukrainian, because that is exactly what a lot of Ukrainians are thinking.

I’ve been told, anecdotally, that Wrzesnewskyj’s banishment to the backbenches is a big deal in the Ukrainian community, much more so than it would normally be because of Ignatieff’s family background (which he can’t help) and the statements he’s made that seem to provide comfort to Russian neo-imperialists (which are entirely his fault).

The Liberal leader can claim to have revised his thinking.  Again.  Like he did on Israel (twice) and the coalition and Iraq and torture and, well, you get the idea.  I suppose another revision can’t hurt at this point.

Read the article

It’s a great article with lots of references that makes his case very solid.  Unfortunately Steve’s getting hammered in the comments with a lot of petty name calling.  You know what to do.

Ignatieff sacks Borys and other Dion supporters

From the Embassy:

Among the many things attracting more attention than the government’s lackluster Throne Speech on Monday was the renovation Michael Ignatieff has given to the Liberal front bench.

With his shadow cabinet shuffle last week, Mr. Ignatieff’s consolidation of power appears complete, with few supporters of former Liberal leader Stéphane Dion remaining in prominent positions.

Former citizenship and immigration critic Borys Wrzesnewskyj, who opposed Mr. Ignatieff during his rise to power, was also cut from the ranks, along with Montreal MP and famed human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler. Mr. Cotler’s position of human rights critic has been done away with altogether.

Longtime Iggy supporters, meanwhile, have been rewarded. Scott Brison has moved from finance to international trade, replacing David McGuinty, who has been given the energy and environment portfolio. Maurizio Bevilacqua has been assigned to immigration, while Glen Pearson (who has three children adopted from Sudan) has taken over as critic for international co-operation.

Borys was the Critic for Citizenship, Immigration & Multiculturalism and a great leader in the Ukrainian Canadian community.  Here are some of Iggy’s thoughts from his 1993 book ‘Blood and Belonging’:

“I feel like declaring my basic prejudices on arrival”, “Isn’t nationalism just an exercise in kitsch, in fervent emotional insincerity? Especially so in Ukraine. It has been part of Russia for centuries.”

“Into this inauthentic void streams nationalist emotionalism”, “striving to convince them that there always was a Ukrainian nation; that it has been suppressed for centuries; that it has at last found its freedom, and so on. The reality is different”

“My difficulty in taking Ukraine seriously goes deeper than just my cosmopolitan suspicion of nationalists everywhere. Somewhere inside, I’m also what Ukrainians would call a Great Russian, and there is just a trace of old Russian disdain for these “little Russians.” The thought of their independence conjured up only “images of embroidered peasant shirts, the nasal whine of ethnic instruments, phoney Cossacks in cloaks and boots, nasty anti-Semites.”

You can write to Ignatieff postage-free (as well any MP) at:

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6

Orange Revolution lesson plan

Got this e-mail from a teacher about the Orange Revolution in her lesson plans:

The Orange Revolution Project.

Lesson plans that explore the themes of Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance. Included is an online simulation using the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine as the context. Please go to: and

There is a neat little flash game that lets you make the decisions through the 2004 crisis, playing the roles of both Yushchenko and Yanukovich.