Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius


If Ignatieff were an American living in Canada, dreaming of being president, guess what he'd be doing right now?

Among the many doubts of Michael Ignatieff's bid to become the next Liberal leader, perhaps the most noticeable objection is that he has not physically been in Canada since the late 1970s. Most have taken this aspect fairly lightheartedly; one of my favourite quips on Ignatieff's opportunism comes from Paul Knowles at the New Hamburg Independent:

The fact that the leader in the race to be Liberal leader is Michael Ignatieff, the guy who came back to Canada - after living most of his adult life in the United States and England - purely in order to run for the job of Prime Minister. Most people come to this country because they want a fresh start, or they want to escape tyranny or persecution. They come willing to take whatever job is available, to build a life in Canada. To start from scratch in a country that offers more opportunity than the one they are in. Ignatieff is not an immigrant, of course. He is a bona fide Canadians - even if in his writings he has referred to himself, pronounally speaking, as an American.

But imagine the conversation around Ignatieff's breakfast table, a year or so ago. "Dear, I am thinking of moving back to Canada." "But you have a great job here in the U.S." "Yes, but I think my opportunities will be better in Canada. I do remember the country, somewhat, and I want to be a prime minister or president of something. I can't do that here in the States, because we have a silly rule about being born here. I can't do it in England, because Tony Blair's successor is already standing with his briefcase at the door of 10 Downing. So it's either Canada or Italy, and I know slightly less about Italy."

Funny stuff, indeed. But should we consider that something more serious is at hand? To name our southern neighbour which has considered this possibility, Article II of the US constitution states:
No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.
In my reading of this clause, a candidate needs to have been resident in the US for fourteen years prior to seeking office. Thus, in the hypothetical situation that an expatriate American decided to return home to seek the presidency--a situation that I cannot recall having occurred-- he would automatically be disqualified.

How long has Ignatieff been in Canada? Ten months and counting? How long will he stay if he doesn't win?


Blogger catnip said...

Good point. I linked to it in my comments section in my latest post about Ignatieff: Why Ignatieff Should Not Lead the Liberals.

Sunday, 22 October, 2006  

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