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Biography Michael Ignatieff

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Michael Ignatieff Michael Ignatieff
Michael Ignatieff
Canadian author, academic and former politician.


Michael Ignatieff Biography



Michael Grant Ignatieff P.C. (born May 12, 1947) is a Canadian author, academic and former politician. He was the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2008 until 2011. Known for his work as a historian, Ignatieff has held senior academic posts at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford, Harvard University and the University of Toronto.


While living in the United Kingdom from 1978 to 2000, Ignatieff became well known as a television and radio broadcaster and as an editorial columnist for The Observer. His documentary series Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism aired on BBC in 1993, and won a Canadian Gemini Award. His book of the same name, based on the series, won the Gordon Montador Award for Best Canadian Book on Social Issues and the University of Toronto's Lionel Gelber Prize. His memoir, The Russian Album, won Canada's Governor General's Literary Award and the British Royal Society of Literature’s Heinemann Prize in 1988. His novel, Scar Tissue, was short-listed for the Booker Prize in 1994. In 2000, he delivered the Massey Lectures, entitled The Rights Revolution, which was released in print later that year.


In the 2006 federal election, Ignatieff was elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke—Lakeshore. That same year, he ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party, ultimately losing to Stéphane Dion. He served as the party's deputy leader under Dion. After Dion's resignation in the wake of the 2008 election, Ignatieff served as interim leader from November 2008 until he was elected leader at the party's May 2009 convention. In the 2011 federal election, Ignatieff lost his own seat in the Liberal Party's worst showing in its history. Winning only 34 seats, the party placed a distant third behind the Conservatives and NDP, and thus lost its position as the Official Opposition. On May 3, 2011, Ignatieff announced that he would resign as leader of the Liberal Party, pending the selection of an interim leader, which became effective May 25, 2011.


Following his electoral defeat, Ignatieff became a senior resident with the University of Toronto's Massey College, where he teaches courses in law and political science for the Munk School of Global Affairs, the School of Public Policy and Governance, and the Faculty of Law. In January 2013, Ignatieff will rejoin the Harvard Kennedy School and will split his time between Toronto and Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Ignatieff was born on May 12, 1947 in Toronto, the elder son of Russian-born Canadian diplomat George Ignatieff and his Canadian-born wife, Jessie Alison (née Grant). Ignatieff's family moved abroad regularly in his early childhood as his father rose in the diplomatic ranks. George Ignatieff was a diplomat and chief of staff to the prime minister under Lester Bowles Pearson. He also worked for Pearson's leadership campaigns.


Political career

In 2004, three Liberal organizers, former Liberal candidate Alfred Apps, Ian Davey (son of Senator Keith Davey) and lawyer Daniel Brock, travelled to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to convince Ignatieff to move back to Canada and run for the Canadian House of Commons, and to consider a possible bid for the Liberal leadership should Paul Martin retire. After months of rumours and several denials, Ignatieff confirmed in November 2005 that he would run for a seat in the House of Commons in the winter 2006 election. It was announced that Ignatieff would seek the Liberal nomination in the Toronto riding of Etobicoke—Lakeshore.

  • Leadership bid

After the Liberal government was defeated in the January 2006 federal election, Paul Martin resigned the party leadership in March that same year. On April 7, 2006, Ignatieff announced his candidacy in the upcoming Liberal leadership race, joining several others who had already declared their candidacy.

  • Deputy leadership

On December 18, 2006, new Liberal leader Stéphane Dion named Ignatieff his deputy leader, in line with Dion's plan to give high-ranking positions to each of his former leadership rivals. During three by-elections held on September 18, 2007, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that unidentified Dion supporters were accusing Ignatieff's supporters of undermining by-election efforts, with the goal of showing that Dion could not hold on to the party's Quebec base.

  • Interim leadership of the Liberal Party

Dion announced that he would schedule his departure as Liberal leader for the next party convention, after the Liberals lost seats and support in the 2008 federal election. Ignatieff held a news conference on November 13, 2008, to once again announce his candidacy for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

  • Leadership

On May 2, 2009, Ignatieff was officially endorsed as the leader of the Liberal Party by 97% of delegates at the party convention in Vancouver.The vote was mostly a formality as the other candidates had stepped down. On August 31, 2009, Ignatieff announced that the Liberal Party would withdraw support for the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, the NDP under Jack Layton abstained and the Conservatives survived the confidence motion.Ignatieff's attempt to force a September 2009 election was reported as a miscalculation, as polls showed that most Canadians did not want another election. Ignatieff's popularity as well as that of the Liberals dropped off considerably immediately afterwards.


On March 25, 2011, Ignatieff introduced a motion of non-confidence against the Harper government to attempt to force a May 2011 federal election after the government was found to be in Contempt of Parliament, the first such occurrence in Commonwealth history. The House of Commons passed the motion by 156-145. On May 3, 2011 Ignatieff announced his resignation as leader of the party pending the appointment of an interim leader.


source: WIKI

26th May 2009, 2011-11-18

updated: 2012-11-18

icon Michael Ignatieff
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