I just read Michael Ignatieff’s new book over the weekend. It’s more of a pamphlet really, a light retelling of some of the figures in his mother’s family, but it is a good story. I didn’t realize that George Grant was his uncle. Because the Grants were Canadian patriots of three different sorts, the book is invested with the theme of what it means to be a Canadian patriot. Ignatieff is bracingly forthright in his concern that there might not be enough raw material here to build a great country. Of course there are enough sticks and stones, but this is a country low on myth. After reciting his antecedent’s myths, Ignatieff does not come up with one of his own, but I agree with all that he says at the end about a national to-do list (better transport connections including high speed rail, national economic union).

Because of the timing, although he says at the beginning that he started some years ago, the book does smell of a political pedigree, but the biggest impression I got was not of Ignatieff – I have read his other non-fiction books and they already have given me an impression of him – it was of Harper. This book makes him look small. He couldn’t have written it. His writing too weak, his vision too pinched.

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