If so I'm glad to see it, for Ignatieff has just spoken out against Canadian participation in the U.S. missile defense system. He was responding to Frank McKenna's suggestion that the Liberal party should reconsider its opposition in the wake of North Korea's nuclear test. Here's Iggy:
''I do not support ballistic missile defense or the weaponization of space,'' Ignatieff, a freshman Toronto MP, said Monday in a statement to CanWest News Service.
''We should not participate in these measures. Canada must continue to work with our international partners and allies to ensure that our sovereignty is respected and that our national interests are represented in any multilateral discussions regarding continental security.''
In response to this statement, S. Dion immediately mentioned Iggy's speech to the 2005 Liberal biennial convention, where:
Ignatieff noted that the Martin government's recently announced decision not to join the U.S. in developing the missile shield had proved popular within the party, but warned that ''We need to balance a principled opposition to the weaponization of space with an equally principled commitment to participate in North American defense now.
''We do not want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defense. And we do not want a principled decision, that is, the decision to resist the militarization of space, to result, without our intending it, in having less control over our national sovereignty. We can't afford ... we can't walk away from the table. We must be there at the table, defending what only we can defend.''
Now, Alicia Johnston, one of Iggy's spokespeople, has argued that the 2005 speech did not call for joining the ballistic missile defense system. It was merely a reference to ''support for the continuation of Canada's current role in NORAD and alongside our international partners and allies.''
And if there is any criticism to be made here, it is that Ms. Johnston has retconned the content of the earlier statement. For example, the Wiki article on Iggy takes the '05 address to be a straightforward statement of support for the system:
Also controversial for many Liberals is Ignatieff's support for a ground-based North American Missile defense Shield. While admitting that opposition to the proposed shield is a popular position among many Liberals, Ignatieff has proclaimed the need for a principled commitment to coordinated North American defense. "We don't want our decisions to fracture the command system of North American defence," he told the party at a national policy conference.
Why don't politicians just say that they changed their position when new facts became available to them? It used to be quite a common approach, a sign of an open mind, in fact. Nowadays, you have to have always been right about everything.