He is of everywhere

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to a town hall in Halifax, Jan. 8. I have the unique distinction of being probably the only Canadian in the world who has two members of his family who both wrote biographies of Nova Scotia’s greatest man, Joe Howe. How about that? It’s a true story. My great grandfather wrote a biography of Joe Howe, whose statue is maybe 400 yards away. And my grandfather wrote a biography. I don’t know how they ended up doing that, but they did. So Joe Howe’s been a hero all my life. And Joe Howe said a great thing, which we should remember and should be above the doors of Parliament. “The only questions I ask myself are: What is right? What is just? And what is for the public good?” And that’s what we have to talk about this afternoon.

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to the Empire Club and Canadian Club in Toronto, Jan. 23. The Empire Club and the Canadian Club are institutions that have always mattered to my family. My great-grandfather—a proud New Brunswicker named George Parkin—spoke to the club. My grandfather—a Russian émigré named Paul Ignatieff—spoke to this club. My Dad spoke to this club in 1969. He said then: “Those to whom this opportunity is offered, I realize, have to be brilliant, or original, or both. Since there is difficulty in being brilliant when you are trying to be original, and being original when you are trying to be brilliant, I shall merely try to be informative.” 

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to a town hall in Orillia, Feb. 7. This town will be forever associated with Stephen Leacock. Just a little story … My grandfather was a school teacher and he taught school with Stephen Leacock. They were personal friends.

Michael Ignatieff, speaking to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, tonight. “I am delighted to be back in the City of Champions. In 1872, my great-great-grandfather, the Reverend George Grant, joined his lifelong friend, Sir Sandford Fleming, in travelling across Canada to survey a route for the transcontinental railroad. After arriving in Edmonton, my great-great-grandfather wrote: “Looking fairly at all the facts, admitting all the difficulties, and what country has not its own drawbacks, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that we have a great and fertile North-west … capable of containing a population of millions. It is a fair land; rich in furs and fish, in treasures of the forest, the field, and the mine; seamed by navigable rivers, interlaced by numerous creeks, and beautified by a thousand lakes; broken by swelling uplands, wooded hill-sides and bold ridges … The air is pure, dry and bracing all year round.” He put those words into a book, Ocean to Ocean, which provided many Canadians with their first glimpse of the future province of Alberta. 

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