Goodbye summer reading and hello to the books I found under a pile of leaves. It is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada which can only mean two things. Turkey and politics. Election season is upon us, and with that in mind, take a moment to be thankful we live in a country where we can elect just about anyone to lead us.
What a privilege.
But before you vote, let’s learn from Michael Ignatieff and his cautionary tale. Fun, right? This book was chosen simply because I wanted to see what went wrong with that 2011 election from Ignatieff’s viewpoint. Like you, I thought of him as a ‘more American than Canadian’ candidate simply because we were told he had spent time teaching at Harvard. Ah, the power of the negative advertising campaign.
In reading Fire and Ashes I was surprised to learn both how deep his Canadian roots reach and how expansive his views are regarding Canadian and international politics. I am also constantly amazed at just how powerful advertising can be. I recall the PC commercials emphasizing that Ignatieff had been “away from Canada for 30 years”. We were pounded with this message. You could hear people repeating the line back as if it was new-found knowledge and they were educating us on the ‘real’ Ignatieff. Well, our esteemed astronaut Chris Hadfield was away from Canada for 26 years, yet I have little doubt he could win if he were to run for office. Fire and Ashes provided an interesting perspective from the campaign trail. After reading this book I realized that I need to up my voting game. Campaigns are ruthless affairs and it is up to us to cut through the rhetoric. I think Ignatieff was kind enough to “dumb it down” for the average reader (me), but on occasion he drifts into a writing style which is better suited for his Harvard colleagues. And while I still may not have voted for him, it made me question my political perspective.
So let this be a lesson. Before you make that ‘x’ ask yourself if the choice is the best candidate for the job or did the ad agency make the decision. Now off with you. Indulge in that extra slice of pumpkin pie then go do your political homework.
2013 Random House 183 pages