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Michael Ignatieff at UBC Speaks About Canada's Future

Michael Ignatieff visited UBC last Friday and said he hoped to give insight to young Canadians about Canada today, and what kind of Canada can be achieved in 2017 -- Canada's 150th birthday. Ignatieff is running a cross-Canada campus tour in order to lead up to Canada at 150: Rising to the Challenge, which is a non-partisan conference held in Montreal in March 2010 and the talk was part of the tour.


When I arrived at the Student Union Building after class, I was shocked at the incredibly long line up, which wrapped around the building. Norm Theatre, the venue at which this event took place, was completely filled and an overfill room had to be arranged to accommodate the massive crowd. After 30 minutes of waiting in line, I squeezed through the crowded room and found myself a spot to settle down.


Michael Ignatieff began by explaining his observations on the declining percentage of citizens exercising their democratic rights, especially young Canadians. He suggested that Prime Minister Stephen Harper gambled with his act of prorogation of parliament on complacency among citizens and that he gambled wrongly. Citizens are now standing up and speaking out to show their disapproval of the Prime Minister's action, he said.


This proves that the cause of the low percentage of active citizens is not a lack of interest. Michael Ignatieff believes that citizens are not being active because the current political parties haven't been successful in giving them a strong vision of Canada. He warns us that if we do not speak up, politicians will take advantage of the situation and we will end up with a country we don’t like.


Ignatieff's said that the world economy is being restructured, as this generation of students is coming of age. Certain jobs lost during the recession will not come back. He predicted that carbon will have a price, energy prices will be high, the greatest resource will be intellectual property, and that countries like India, China, and Brazil will be the most influential. As a result, in order to succeed in the future, he said, Canada must strive to be the best-educated, the most energy efficient, and the most international society.


To read more about the question and answer period with Ignatieff, find a summary here.

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