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Michael Ignatieff, Opposition Leader, Says McCartney Wrong On Seals

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Author Topic: Michael Ignatieff, Opposition Leader, Says McCartney Wrong On Seals  (Read 25 times)
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« on: May 10, 2009, 07:55:24 pm »

Michael Ignatieff, Canada's opposition leader, says Sir Paul McCartney is wrong on seals

By Philip Sherwell
The Sunday Telegraph
May 9, 2009

Michael Ignatieff, Canada's new opposition leader, has denounced European animal right activists for their hostility to seal hunting.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph Mr Ignatieff hit out at last week's vote by the European Parliament to ban the sale of seal products.

The former left-wing British television host was elected leader of Canada's Liberal Party on May 3.

"We look at the culling of deer in Scotland and wolves in Europe by farmers and find it very frustrating to see this reaction to a carefully regulated and managed cull here, which is an economic mainstay of some of the poorest communities in Canada," he said.

"Europe's inability or refusal to see the seal cull for what is smacks of hypocrisy and misunderstanding.

"Paul McCartney, I love your music - but leave the seals to the people who know them. This is not marginal to us, this is very important."

The EU ban, which was passed by 550 votes to 49, came after a long battle against seal clubbing backed by campaigners such as Sir Paul McCartney, who called it a "trade in animal cruelty",

Sir Paul and his then wife Heather visited ice floes in the Canadian Arctic in 2006 to campaign against the "heartbreaking" commercial hunt of harp seals, which they said was a "stain" on Canada's character.

The McCartneys said 97 per cent of the seals killed in the hunt were less than three months old, and urged the Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper to end their slaughter "for good."
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2009, 07:56:57 pm »

For more than two decades as a fixture in British academia and media, Mr Ignatieff developed a reputation as a cerebral figure opining on the great subjects of the day - from massacres in Kurdistan to genocide in Rwanda.

Yet less than four years after plunging back the turbulent politics of his Canadian homeland, he is now on the verge of power as leader of the centre-left Liberal Party - and is not about to challenge one of Canada's most traditional livelihoods.

Buoyed by strong support from women voters, opinion polls indicated that the would emerge as the next prime minister if the minority Conservative government led by Stephen Harper falls.

Mr Ignatieff, 61, the descendant of Tsarist Russian ministers on one side and Scottish-Canadian explorers on the other, laughed off suggestions that his reputation as a "sexy intellectual" lay behind his popularity.

"I think my wife would take issue with that," he said, referring to Hungarian-born Zsuzsanna Zohar, the former BBC head of publicity whose central European roots mirror his own unconventional pedigree. "I think our popularity with women is because we are addressing issues that are important to them on work and pay."

But Mr Ignatieff added that he "loved the company of women" and said that during his time working in British television at BBC2 and Channel 4, he had worked with several "great women bosses" in executive roles.

Declining to identify individuals, he said: "It was a formative experience for me. I really liked their style and leadership."

Mr Ignatieff hopes to benefit from the mood of change in Western nations that helped carry Barack Obama into the White House and seems set to bring David Cameron to power in Britain.

The popularity of Mr Obama, another politician with academic roots, has done him no harm north of the border.

He was confirmed as Liberal leader by an overwhelming vote at the party's convention last week after serving in the role on an interim basis.
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2009, 07:58:26 pm »

When The Sunday Telegraph accompanied Mr Ignatieff on the hustings as a novice candidate for a Toronto constituency in early 2006, he acknowledged that his biggest challenge was dealing with the question: "Is he one of us?"

He faced criticisms that he was both an out-of-touch intellectual and a carpet-bagger when he returned home after spending 22 years in Britain, as an academic in Cambridge and Oxford, media commentator and host of the BBC arts programme The Late Show, and then another five years in the US at Harvard.

His support for President George W Bush's invasion of Iraq - he backed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime on humanitarian grounds, although later recanted that position - earned further enemies in his own party.

He has just published a book, his 17th, with the syrupy title of True Patriot Love, recounting the story four generation of his family "in search of Canada" - an indication that he still feels the need to reassure his compatriots of his loyalty.

Yet in a country that is traditionally both resentful about and in awe of home-grown big names, he has risen through the ranks with dizzying speed. "I think that in these very tough times, the question is less, 'Is he one of us' and more, 'Does he know what we're going through'," he said.

Mr Ignatieff describes himself as an "ardent Anglophile". His parents met in London during the war - his mother was working for British intelligence and his father for the Canadian foreign service - and his adult children from his first marriage to Susan Barrowclough, a Briton, have dual nationality.

Although he has strong connections with Britain's Labour Party, he expressed admiration forMr Cameron. "I watch his assured, confident and languid manner at Question Time with envy," he said. "As someone who has to go through the same process here, I admire his style."

While criticising anti-seal cull sentiment across the Atlantic, he said he believed Canada should make common ground with Britain and Europe in opposing the "made in America" protectionist mood that is gaining popularity in the US.

Mr Ignatieff spurned an opportunity to bring down Mr Harper's government earlier this year, aware that his own Liberal party, for long the dominant force in Canadian politics, is still in flux. "I inherited a party that needs serious work in terms of rebuilding," he said.

The Liberals, along with the smaller New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois, have more seats in the Canadian House of Commons that Mr Harper's Conservatives, who were returned to power as a minority government last year.

But Mr Ignatieff is wary of forcing a no confidence vote that could leave him heading a querellous coalition. His goal is to put the Liberals in a position to win the next election, the date of which is uncertain in the current political climate, in their own right.
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