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Copyright Graeme MacKay. Please check for MacKay's posting and publication rules by clicking here.
The Hamilton Spectator
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Wednesday December 10, 2008
In many ways, Michael Ignatieff is an unlikely political player.

He's a former professor who has held academic positions at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Toronto.

He's a celebrated author of 16 books, a respected public intellectual and a former journalist and documentary filmmaker who reached near-celebrity status in Britain during the 1990s.

He's also been an outspoken commentator unafraid to raise controversy: he supported the Iraq invasion in 2003 (a view he recanted in 2007), and he angered Jews when he said an Israeli attack on the Lebanese town of Qana in 2006 was a war crime.

Recently, his identity became an issue with some critics, who said Ignatieff hadn't spent enough time in Canada to lead it.

And they may have had a point: with the exception of a two-year stint as a history professor at the University of British Columbia, Ignatieff lived outside of Canada from the late 1960s until his return for the 2005 election.

Indeed, most Canadian politicians spend years in the trenches - city halls, provincial legislatures and party back rooms - before they jump to high-profile government roles.

Not Ignatieff.

Look at it this way: when former leadership rival and old friend Bob Rae was battling Tories in the Ontario legislature during the mid 1980s, Ignatieff was writing a movie screenplay about Sigmund Freud and living in England.

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The Great Grit Hope: who is Michael Ignatieff?
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