Once a lone wolf...

I found Michael Ignatieff in my basement this weekend.

Dressed in black, with equally dark hair and eyebrows, he peered out at me from between the pages of a 17 year-old Saturday Night magazine.

Michael Ignatieff circa 1992

Written by Sandra Martin, the article focussed on Ignatieff's novel Asya and the risk he took in allowing "his heart to rule his intellect."

But it didn't take long for the spectre of federal politics to take over the article.

Now remember, this piece appeared in the summer of 1992, when Ignatieff was living in England and working as a writer and broadcaster. It was also one year before an election where the Liberal Party, led by Jean Chrétien, won 177 seats.

For her article, Martin interviewed Jim Coutts, a former advisor to former prime ministers Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau. He also served as Trudeau's principal secretary. Coutts met Ignatieff during the 1968 federal election campaign when Ignatieff was working as Trudeau's national youth organizer.

And it obviously made quite the impression because in 1992, Coutts said "Ignatieff is the party's best choice — 'after Mr. Chrétien' — to become Liberal leader and prime minister."

Ignatieff is quoted as having scoffed at the idea. Martin wrote, "Seeing Trudeau up close, seeing how he wielded power, convinced Ignatieff that he 'lacked the necessary ruthlessness' to be a successful politician. His friend Bob Rae has provided another object lesson as Rae has stumbled through the economic minefield of Ontario politics."

Ignatieff went on to say, "I am a lone wolf. I am not an organization man."

Seventeen years later, here we are. On the cusp of an election, triggered by Michael Ignatieff — leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

One wonders whether the campaign will trigger any "necessary ruthlessness" and how we'll tame his lone wolf tendencies.

It's also interesting to note that earlier this year, John Geddes reported in Macleans that in preparation for his response to the Conservative's Jan. 27 budget, Ignatieff's principal secretary Ian Davey called Coutts — who foresaw Ignatieff's future calling so many years ago — for advice.

— Alison Crawford