The first thirty years of my Russian grandfather's life were spent in Ukraine, attending the lyceum in Odessa, holidaying in the Crimea, then farming on his father's estates in central Ukraine, in a village called Kroupodernitsa. He became the head of the Kiev district council, the zemstvo, and then, after the revolution of 1905, was appointed the civilian governor of Kiev region...I've been having a hard time formulating exactly why I'm so hostile to having Ignatieff in government, but the full context of this quote really crystallized my thoughts.
For my grandparents, Kiev was more than a Russian town. It was the birthplace of Russian national identity itself. Russian Orthodox Christianity began in 987, when the ruler of Kievan Rus was baptized into the Christian religion. Now, unbelievably, it was the capital of a new independent state.
My difficulty in taking Ukraine seriously goes deeper than just my cosmopolitan suspicion of nationalists everywhere. Somewhere inside, I'm also what Ukrainians would call a Great Russian, and there is just a trace of old Russian disdain for these "Little Russians."
Ignatieff calls himself "cosmopolitan", but he's not opposed to all nationalisms, just "little" nationalisms. He wouldn't question American or Russian nationalism, he simply disdains the idea that smaller nations might choose to carve a separate path. The common thread between this quote and his belief that Canada should participate in Iraq is simply this - he doesn't think we deserve a choice, just like he doesn't think the Ukrainians do. Canada, as a smaller nation, should be subject to the whims of the United States regardless of what our "nationalism" might dictate.
What Ignatieff's views amount to is not only an endorsement of both American and (bizarrely) Russian imperialism, but a denial of Canadian sovereignty over matters like control of our own foreign policy. The Norwegians have given us a name for people like this - Quislings. That the party of Trudeau and Pearson - men who understood the value and costs of a close relationship with the US - would nominate a man like this shows just how far they've fallen. Pearson fearlessly criticized the American war in Vietnam, and Trudeau tried his damndest to insulate Canada from American corporate pressure. Now the best we can do is Paul Martin waffling over weaponizing space, and Ignatieff: A sycophant to power, any power whatsoever.