Inside Politics

What's in a name?

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(Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

(UPDATE: This just in - Jason Kenney reacts to the below posting via Twitter: "Apparently I mispronounced Mr. Ignatieff's name 1) I'm sorry. 2) I'm called "Kennedy" every day. 3)The new MP for Vaughan is Julian FantEEno")

Today, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney was brought out to react to last night's byelections.

We got plenty of the regular spin of what this means for the general election and how this bodes for the Conservatives' attempt to increase seats in the Greater Toronto Area.

That's all fine and dandy. Post byelection I expect party spin, even if I don't necessarily believe it.

Here's what I don't buy. I don't buy that Jason Kenney does not know how to say the Liberal leader's name.

Throughout the press conference, Kenney referred to Michael Ignatieff as "Michael Ig-NAY-ti-eff."

It's actually pronounced "Ig-nah-ti-eff." Surely, this is not the first time Kenney has said Ignatieff's name. Surely he's heard it spoken before.

Kenney speaks lovely French so it's not as though he's unfamiliar with other languages. Why, he's also the Conservatives' resident immigrant outreach minister and is credited with helping to integrate newly arrived Canadians and recruit many of them to the party.

So what the heck is this about? Is it actually a strategy? Does wildly mispronouncing a name somehow show voters that a leader is not worth voting for?

During the Jaffer/Guergis-gate, no one seemed able to pronounce Guergis properly. At times it seemed it was done intentionally in a bid to distance themselves from Guergis during a controversial time. But saying Ig-NAY-tieff (the wrong way) not once, but by my count, six times, surely that can't be a mistake? And if it is, maybe someone should tell the minister?


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