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Quick, get Michael Ignatieff the smelling salts

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaks to The Globe and Mail editorial board in Toronto on April 24, 2011.

Darren Calabrese/darren calabrese The Globe and Mail

You should never kick a man while he is down, so I won't. But reading Michael Ignatieff's opinion piece I feel like I should send the guy some smelling salts.

It seems Ignatieff thinks, in part, he lost the election because he spent a good part of his life living abroad. Nonsense. Ignatieff and the Liberals lost for a plethora of reasons that have been well documented by many on this website - the least of which was Ignatieff's time away.

Now I appreciate there is some irony in the fact that I write this while I myself am just visiting California, where I proudly remain a Canadian. Without a doubt, the Conservative Party unmercifully exploited and pulverized Ignatieff for being a self-interested interloper who came home to Canada for his own purposes, or as the Tories told it to be prime minister and pad his resume. However, the problem Ignatieff and his team had was that he lived that brand. Whether it was the pre-selling his people did of him as some sort of political messiah coming home to save the country, an electronic commons full of questionable comments about his own country made as a public intellectual or a political demeanor that radiated an uncomfortable level of arrogance, he fit the Conservative narrative perfectly. And until today he really never offered cogent argument - one that still needs work on how it connects directly with people - on the benefits to Canada of a leader who has lived much of his life abroad. Instead of trying to turn his international CV into an asset he turtled.

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Michael Ignatieff lost the election because he was a lousy politician leading a party that was, and still remains, broken on many levels. He didn't get his butt kicked as a consequence of his out-of-country experience; he was beaten by more sophisticated political opponents who understood the marketplace much better than he did.

Students at the University of Toronto are lucky to have Ignatieff in their midst. He is without a doubt a world-class educator. I hope he will encourage them to travel and study abroad. Such experiences are both individually and collectively enriching. However, as time passes and the pain of defeat is vanquished, perhaps proper analysis will prevail.

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