George Ignatieff

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George Pavlovich Ignatieff, CC (Russian: Георгий Па́влович Игнатьев; December 16, 1913 - August 10, 1989) was a noted Russian-Canadian diplomat. His career spanned nearly five decades in World War II and the postwar period.

Early life and education[edit]

Ignatieff was born in Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire, the youngest of five sons, to a distinguished Russian family. His mother was Princess Natalia Nikolayevna Meshcherskaya and his father was Count Paul Ignatieff, a close advisor to Tsar Nicholas II serving as his last Minister of Education. In 1918, the year after the Russian Revolution, Count Ignatieff was imprisoned, but his release was negotiated by sympathetic supporters. The family fled to France, and later moved to Canada. George Ignatieff was educated at St Paul's School, London, Lower Canada College (having first been rejected by Selwyn House School)[citation needed], and the University of Trinity College, University of Toronto, before being awarded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford.

Wartime service and postwar diplomacy[edit]

With the advent of war, Ignatieff joined the Royal Artillery, where he worked in photographic intelligence. In 1940 he joined the Canadian Department of External Affairs. He became personal assistant to the Canadian High Commissioner in London, Vincent Massey,[1] and during his London posting began a friendship with Lester Pearson, later Prime Minister of Canada. Ignatieff also served as the wartime Canadian delegate to the International Red Cross.[2]

Ignatieff was a key figure in Canadian diplomacy and international relations through the postwar period. He was Ambassador to Yugoslavia (1956–1958), permanent representative to NATO (1963–1966), Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations (1966–1969) and president of the United Nations Security Council (1968–1969). In 1984 Ignatieff was appointed Ambassador for Disarmament by Prime Minister John Turner.

Ignatieff was unimpressed by the foreign policy of the Trudeau governments of the 1970s and 1980s, and was unafraid to provoke government functionaries. He advocated cautious realignment of Canadian defence policy, and a complete nuclear test ban. Like his mentor Pearson, Ignatieff believed in the interdependence of nations, and had an acute prescience for the impending threats of terror, economic breakdown, and environmental degradation.[3][4]

Ignatieff served as Provost of the University of Trinity College from 1972 to 1979, and later as chancellor of the University of Toronto from 1980 to 1986. The University of Trinity College's theatre is named after Ignatieff, and is fondly known as the GIT (pronounced 'jit').

George Ignatieff has been described as the "best Governor General (Canada) never had".[5] His autobiography, The Making of a Peacemonger, was published in 1985 by the University of Toronto Press.

Personal life[edit]

Ignatieff married Alison Grant (the granddaughter of George Monro Grant and niece of Vincent Massey) in 1944, and had two sons. The elder, Michael Ignatieff, was Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada and Leader of the Official Opposition from 2008 to 2011. Andrew Ignatieff is a community worker and assisted in his brother's leadership campaign.

Awards and honorary degrees[edit]

Ignatieff was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1973. He received the Pearson Medal of Peace for his work in international service in 1984. He received eight Honorary Degrees from Canadian universities.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Davies DT, (editor). Canada From Afar: the Daily Telegraph Book of Canadian Obituaries, p.194 - 195. Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1996.
  2. ^ Greenhous B. "C" Force to Hong Kong. A Canadian Catastrophe. Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1997.
  3. ^ Roche D. Farewell to a peacemonger. Peace Magazine (1989) Oct-Nov, p.16(http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v05n5p16.htm
  4. ^ Dickman A. George Ignatieff (interview). Peace Magazine (1989) Oct-Nov, p.17 (http://www.peacemagazine.org/archive/v05n5p18.htm
  5. ^ Davies DT, (editor). Canada From Afar: the Daily Telegraph Book of Canadian Obituaries, p.196. Toronto, Dundurn Press, 1996.
  6. ^ http://www.brocku.ca/secretariat/senate/honorarydegrees.pdf
  7. ^ http://www.usask.ca/archives/history/hondegrees.php?id=207&view=detail&keyword=&campuses=
  8. ^ http://www.yorku.ca/secretariat/senate/committees/hondeg/recipients.htm#I
  9. ^ http://www.mta.ca/governance/president/hondegreerecipMM.htm
  10. ^ http://www.uvic.ca/universitysecretary/senate/honorary/recipients/
  11. ^ http://library.uvic.ca/site/archives/featured_collections/uvic_historical_facts/honorary_degrees.html
  12. ^ http://www.trentu.ca/administration/pdfs/TrentUniversityRecipientsofHonoraryDegrees.pdf
  13. ^ http://www.trentu.ca/admin/secretariat/honorary-alpha.html

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Pierre Tremblay
Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations
July 1966–February 1969
Succeeded by
Yvon Beaulne
Academic offices
Preceded by
Derwyn R. G. Owen
Provost of the University of Trinity College
1972–1978
Succeeded by
F. Kenneth Hare
Preceded by
Arthur B. B. Moore
Chancellor of the University of Toronto
1980–1986
Succeeded by
John Black Aird