Ignatieff’s Career Move

Foreign Policy looks at Michael Ignatieff’s career move, from academic to member of parliament.

Canadians normally don’t get fired up about foreign policy in their parliamentary elections. Then again, Michael Ignatieff is not a normal candidate. Last fall, the professor left his post as director of Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy to run for parliament in his native Canada. His new office is in a bare-bones campaign headquarters on an industrial corner in suburban Toronto, where he prepares for the January 23 election. Ignatieff, a Liberal Party candidate who is considered by many to be one of the best minds Canada has ever produced, wants Canada to assume a greater role in world affairs. Americans probably know him best as a “liberal hawk” who supported the Iraq war.

Ignatieff has spent most of his career in Britain and the United States, but he’s hardly a stranger to Canadian foreign policy. His late father, George Ignatieff, was a career diplomat who served as Canada’s ambassador to Yugoslavia, NATO, and the United Nations. He was president of the U.N. Security Council during the 1960s. As an academic, the younger Ignatieff regularly discussed and analyzed Canadian policy. What he sees is a country with potential influence abroad, but little will to exert it.