Some Americans seem to think so, if last Friday’s edition of the New York Times is anything to judge by.
The cover of the paper’s January 30th Fashion and Style section was devoted to an in-depth and largely flattering look at the new Liberal leader. Early on, the article compared Ignatieff to former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.
There are also Canadians who see Ignatieff as someone who can bring about change. Last Sunday, CBCNews.ca ran a piece covering the Times’ story and comparing Ignatieff to President Barack Obama.
Both articles noted how Ignatieff has reinvigorated and reorganized the Liberal party since taking over from Stéphane Dion in December. Both articles also carried an underlying sense of excitement that Ignatieff may become the next Liberal prime minister, and soon.
The media and the opposition parties – especially the Liberals – have a tendency to portray Prime Minister Stephen Harper as former President George W. Bush’s “yes man.” With many Americans excited to put the Bush years behind them, it’s not surprising that some are looking ahead to having a new prime minister on Parliament Hill.
Harper is a constant reminder that moving forward isn’t as easy as electing a new leader.
For better or for worse, Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin and Harper are all part of Bush’s legacy. In the future, only Harper will have to campaign under the weight of that legacy. That might not be an easy thing to do.
As a Toronto Star piece from early January noted, “whatever Harper was doing up here, Bush was doing more of it down there… For a federal government with a more or less parallel US agenda, political cover that broad is priceless.” The column concluded what some Canadians have already realized: “Obama makes Harper look bad.”
Whether or not Canada needs change is open for debate. So is Ignatieff’s ability and willingness to break with Harper’s policies, like the New York Times seems convinced he would.
Being compared to leaders who inspired the terms “Trudeau-mania” and “Obama-mania” to describe their followings among voters is a lot to live up to. But if Ignatieff is even half the leader the New York Times believes him to be, he just might pull it off.