Former politician offers fascinating glimpse into political life
I didn’t vote for Michael Ignatieff when he ran for the job of prime minister of Canada back in 2011. I felt he was leading a rudderless Liberal party and that his own strong vision for Canada could not be squared with the lifeless party he had inherited. On top of that, it seemed to me he hadn’t earned his political wings, having lived most of his life in the U.S. as a Harvard professor. Regardless, Michael Ignatieff was unsuccessful in his bid and he has since returned to a teaching position at the University of Toronto.
But as is often the case when a high profile politician leaves political life, a side of Michael Ignatieff has emerged that shows a man much less the stiff and guarded individual he appeared to be during his brief political career. That this side of him has emerged is the result of the publication of his book titled Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics. It is less an autobiography than a candid and introspective analysis of political life in modern day Canada.
It is a fascinating read and a must read for anyone contemplating running for office. Far from an indictment of the political process, the book focuses on the battles that a politician must wage in the political arena and within himself.
Michael Ignatieff recognizes that passion, idealism and ambition remain prerequisites for a life in politics but he admits these qualities will be tested and they are always in danger of succumbing to the darker forces at play in politics.
The moral of the story? The sheer complexities of the job and the demands on the elected official should be well understood instead of leaping somewhat naively into politics as he did.
The book is an eye opener, indeed.