Sunday, July 18, 2010

More about Michael

Interesting story the other day, again from the Toronto Star's Susan Delacourt, that talks a little about Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff and his family life. An excerpt:

On Thursday, during a question-and-answer session in Ajax, Ignatieff was asked about the role of mediation in divorce law. Not everyone in the audience noticed, but his answer strayed into his own experience.

Ignatieff, whose marriage breakdown was the subject of headlines in British tabloids, said: “Sometimes, things go badly wrong in families. And it can be excruciatingly painful. . . . When the family begins to break apart, and they do, life is under pressure. Life is tough sometimes.”

In the Star interview a day later, he said it’s important to discuss the Canadian family in clear-eyed, “unsentimental” terms.

“What I’ll say about that is that it’s no secret, never concealed, that I lived a very painful divorce. And I’ve been through it. And you want to do right by your kids and it’s more important than anything in the world that the people you love don’t get hurt. And all I can say is that I lived through it,” he said.

“That answer was something I care about, because I care a lot about families. But . . . families break up. Marriages break down. It’s extremely important that we have institutions that help people find the way towards reconciliation, doing what’s right for the kids, not having the lawyer screw it up, because they can. . . . I’m 100 per cent in favour (of mediation).”
As the Star story says, Ignatieff's political opponents (we can all guess who) are routinely trying to use his family history against him, sending negative e-mails alleging all kinds of nastiness to reporters and bloggers who, by and large, have ignored them. I used to get just disgustingly nasty e-mails about the Dion family, and about Bill Graham before him. Seems to be a long-standing tactic for some people. (And why they'd think I, as a Liberal blogger, would publish them I don't know.)

But you know, the fact is most Canadian families are imperfect. My parents divorced when I was in junior high school. Nearly as many of my friends came from broken families as did not. Life is hard, and people aren't perfect. I think those that seek to exploit the lack of perfection of others should remember that we're a country of imperfect people, doing the best we can. That's all we can ask of each other, and I think most Canadians agree.

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Will said...

It's good to hear politicians open up. I don't know why we haven't heard more of Mr Harper's personal life. His wife was previously married and so Harper and her had to get married at a Justice of the Peace in Calgary. Divorce happens to many people.

Terence said...

As a person Iggy hit it dead on. The red meat types will probably not like his lifestyle but should recall that Laureen Harper is on her second marriage.

As a political statement it is something that needs to be dealt with in society. The marriage break ups I have seen are simply cash cows for lawyers and the emotional costs to society are greater than most people could ever imagine.

Good start on an important subject and good blog!!!

Liberal Justice said...

I liked your post. And what's more, if people think Ignatieff's marriage break down is going to hurt him politically their dead wrong. It humanizes him and helps Canadians related to him. If anything, these type of family stories, good and bad, will help him!

RuralSandi said...

In other words, Ignatieff is more real than Harper because he's faced problems like most Canadians.

They going to attack Iggy on this when Peter MacKay, Justin Trudeau, etc. come from broken homes?

Niles said...

I wouldn't even call it as people coming from 'broken' homes. From my own witnessings, while there are people who never get over being hateful towards each other when a family partnership founders, many others can come together as allies, if not friends, in new ties. But then, my 'blended' clan likely all worship Santana or something in the eyes of the 'family values' crowd.

Funny, how those that blame the unshackling of divorce laws for the eeeeeevil degeneration of good 'ole Western Society so often get caught out being hypocritical betrayers of the espoused 'family values'. They seem (in an inexpert opinion) to also be the ones that get nastiest in divorce court when finally dragged there, especially if the power spouse has enough money to hire lawyers to hammer the situation.

It's a situation that everyone has felt either directly or as a close bystander. Mr. Ignatieff has a wealth of broad experiences, good and bad. If he's able to discuss his boos and beaucoups in a 'yeah, that's me' manner, it does let people measure him against what they're living.

I just wish he'd get coverage addressing the big stuff hammering us day after day since June. I can't help but think there's a tack there to just sit back and wait for the Cons to finally piss voters off. Or is that just because he's not getting coverage on that side of it?

Rotterdam said...

I am not aware of anyone attacking Iggy. I myself know too well what its like to rear teenagers. Throw in divorce, like in my own family, and its even more challenging.
Move five time zones away and its impossible.

DL said...

I don't think there is any stigma whatsoever about simply being divorced. It's pretty common knowledge (I think) that Jack Layton was married and then divorced to the mother of his children before he met Olivia Chow (though I understand he has good relations with his ex). There are persistent rumours that the Harper marriage is on the rocks and of course we all know about some of those Tory paragons of "family values" like Mike Harris and Ernie Eves and Vic Toews who all dumped their wives for women who were either younger and more attractive or for a woman with a ton of money...

In the end, I think it only becomes an issue if there is evidence that the person in question treated their ex-spouse really deplorably and if the ex-spouse goes public about it. As a side bar to all this Gerhard Schroeder was married 4 times and in his last election campaign, wife #2 actually did commercials for the opposition CDU saying something along the lines of "I threw the bugger out - now I call upon the German people to do the same!"