Foreign Policy Magazine recently published their list of the world's top 100 thinkers, and our own Michael Ignatieff made the grade. He is in some very good company.
At number 64, this is what they said of him:
64. Michael Ignatieff for showing that not all academics are irrelevant.
Liberal Party leader Canada
Poised to become Canadian prime minister next year, only five years after leaving Harvard University's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Ignatieff is out to prove the relevance of academia -- and big ideas -- in politics. Ignatieff's writing on the sometime necessity of "violence … coercion, secrecy, deception, even violation of rights" to fight terrorism has made him a singular voice among Canadian liberals.
His 2004 book, The Lesser Evil, made the case that targeted violence was necessary to prevent the possibility of falling victim to greater violence, but stressed that democratic states should not employ torture or be motivated by national pride or revenge. In 2006 he was elected to Canada's House of Commons and in 2008 became leader of the Liberal Party. As a politician, he's renewed his party's focus on human rights, the war in Afghanistan, and more recently, global climate change, which he defines in characteristically utilitarian fashion as "redistributing risk to the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world."
Michael Ignatieff is the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, the Leader of the Official Opposition, and the Member of Parliament for Etobicoke-Lakeshore.
Since first being elected to Parliament in 2006, he’s travelled to every corner of the country, listening to Canadians’ stories and talking to them about their hopes and dreams for their children and grandchildren. It’s the same approach Michael has taken during his long career as a scholar, writer, and journalist, and as one of Canada’s leading voices on the world stage.
Before entering politics in 2005, Michael served as Director of the Carr Centre for Human Rights at Harvard University and taught at leading universities around the globe. He has been a proud contributor to international public policy for nearly four decades, as an author, broadcaster, and advisor.
Deep Liberal roots
In 1965, as a Young Liberal, Michael knocked on doors for Lester B. Pearson. In the election of 1968, he travelled across the country with Pierre Trudeau, as his national youth organizer. In March 2005, Michael delivered the keynote address at the Biennial Liberal Convention in Ottawa and later that year became the Liberal candidate for Etobicoke-Lakeshore. He was elected as a Member of Parliament in January 2006. In December 2006 he was appointed as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, serving in this capacity for nearly two years. He became the Leader of the Liberal Party on December 10, 2008.
Michael’s commitment to Liberal values has defined him throughout his career, from his undergraduate years at the University of Toronto to his graduate work at Oxford and Harvard to his first teaching job at the University of British Columbia and the long career that followed. Michael has been a leading advocate for human rights, democracy, and international law, and has been recognized around the world for his leadership and scholarship.
A public career supporting human rights and communities in conflict
As a writer and a journalist, Michael reported on the religious and ethnic wars in Afghanistan, Rwanda, and the Balkans. He believes that Canada, with its diversity of peoples, languages, and cultures, is stronger because of the differences that define us as a country. He has seen, in some of the darkest places on earth, that Canada is a model for the world. Michael is committed to restoring Canadian leadership—the Canadian example that has been a beacon of hope for so many, for so long.
Michael has been a leading advocate for this international leadership throughout his career, as a teacher at universities around the world: the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, Cambridge University in Britain, l’École des Hautes Études in Paris, and Harvard University, where for five years he was Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights. He’s contributed to the World Economic Forum and served on international commissions that have contemplated the future of NATO, humanitarian law, citizenship and minority rights.
In 2001, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien and Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy appointed Michael as one of Canada’s representatives on the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, a groundbreaking effort to help shape future United Nations actions in response to humanitarian crises.
A thoughtful and engaging communicator
Michael’s first job was as a staff writer at The Globe and Mail in Toronto. He’s hosted popular programs on the CBC, TVO, the BBC, and Britain’s Channel 4, and still writes for various public affairs magazines and reviews.
He’s written 17 books, most recently True Patriot Love, which was published in April 2009.
True Patriot Love explores the history of Canada through four generations of his mother’s family, the Grants, beginning with his great-grandfather, the Reverend George Munro Grant, who travelled from coast to coast with Sir Sanford Fleming in 1872 to survey a route for the transcontinental railway.
Michael is the recipient of eleven honourary degrees, a Gemini Award from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, the Governor-General Award for non-fiction, and was recognized as the Parliamentarian of the Year in 2007.
Michael is married to Zsuzsanna Zsohar and has two children, Theo and Sophie.