Joseph F. Turcotte, PhD

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Identity Politics and the CPC

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It took awhile but it looks like the Conservative Party of Canada’s (CPC) warroom has dusted themselves off from the Winter’s coalition crisis and are now taking aim at Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. No surprise there, really, but this brand of ads is quite irritating– I’m not going to post the ads because I refuse to put them on this page but feel free to Google them or look them up on YouTube. Oh and there’s the new anti-Iggy website too, ignatieff.me.

But the line of attack that the CPC is taking has me iritated. While the main thrust of the ads is that Iggy’s out-of-touch and arrogant. That’s not too big of a deal, what politician ISN’T arrogant or at least a little cocky/sure of themselves? It takes quite a bit of perceived self-importance to stand for public office and to think that you are worthy of representing the fine people of Canada.

What really has me ticked though is the underlying sentiment that because of Iggy’s time away from Canada– working in Britain and the US– that he’s somehow less Canadian. In a country that embraces multiculturalism and is increasingly comprised of individuals from other countries that have multiple identities in terms of their roots and experiences, this seems ludicrous. Is the CPC now saying that how much of a Canadian someone is dependent solely on their past? Does this mean that if you’re a new Canadian that you’re somehow less of a Canadian? Not up-to-par with those Canadians that were born here, worked here and spent their lives in the country? I’d like to see them present that argument to the millions of ‘immigrant’ Canadians.

Personally, trying to define the identity of an individual– and not just focusing on perceived character flaws, as they did with Stéphane Dion— is appalling. Identity is not some sort of static thing that doesn’t change and adapt due to experiences. Neither is it something that can be easily defined by what jobs (or the places where those jobs were) a person has had.

Identity is constructed based on the individual. I feel a sense of connection with my Québécois roots despite the fact that I speak little to no French and have only visited the province sparingly. That doesn’t matter to me though. I feel it in my bones. Just as Iggy feels Canada in his.

The facts are: yes, he was away for quite sometime but it’s equally true that he’s come back to try and help his country. Whether he was gone for an extended period of time or not has little relevance, he’s here now. Deal with it. Speak to the present, please. Talk about the mounting job losses and how he’s not well positioned to deal with that– I’m sure those ads will be coming soon.

But please, please, please, do not try to dip into the nebulous world of identity politics. The affiliations and connections that a person has with Canada run much deeper than which decades were spent where. And it’s quite insulting, not to mention arrogant, for someone to think that they can define the essence of someone else.

But then again, arrogance is something that I expect from Steve H. and his band of cronies.

It’s time for a new politics, but more on that in a future post…


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2 Comments

  1. April says:

    Well-argued… those ads suck.

  2. […] For now though I need to ruminate on one of those weird, blogosphere deja vu moments. Reading the latest story about Ignatieff’s response to the negative attack ads, I came across a few quotes that seem very familiar. In fact, they’re exactly what I was thinking. […]

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