Ignatieff Loses Bid for Party Leadership

Loss marks end of former prof’s chance of becoming Canadian prime minister

Former Kennedy School of Government professor and human rights expert, Michael G. Ignatieff, lost his bid for the leadership of Canada’s Liberal Party in a surprise upset on Saturday.

Stéphane Dion, a former professor at the University of Montreal, took the party leadership with 54.7 percent of the delegates’ votes, effectively ending Ignatieff’s chances of becoming prime minister if the Liberal Party takes back Parliament in the next election.

Ignatieff—a prominent public intellectual who earned a PhD in history from Harvard in 1976—left his position as director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School last December and won a seat in the Canadian House of Commons.

Although Ignatieff was the frontrunner in the party leadership race, other candidates swung their support to Dion in a last-minute turn of events.

“What it came down to in the final vote was that the liberal delegates were looking for someone who was more likely to unite the party,” said the former prime minister of the Harvard Canadian Club, Lauren P.S. Epstein ’07. “Igantieff had ardent supporters, but at the same time, he had people who would never under any circumstances support him.”

In the final vote, Ignatieff garnered just 45.3 percent of the 4,605 delegates’ votes—even though he held a lead over the other eight candidates in the first ballot results.

“My education, my politics, my basic view of the world is Canadian,” Ignatieff told The Crimson last year. “I’ve been out of the country a while, and it seemed time to put something back.”

At the end of the leadership convention, Ignatieff said of Dion, “We have chosen a great leader,” according to the Toronto Star. “We have chosen a man of principles, a man with a vision, a man with courage, a man with conviction. And he will have my support.”