This is from the Star. Hebert gives some insights into the Quebec Liberal situation. I don't know where Hebert gets the information that Ignatieff is anxious to have the next campaign over with. I understood that it is Dion who wants an election and that Ignatieff and Rae are holding him back because the troops are not ready nor are Canadians ready to vote for the Liberals. With Rae on the front benches Dion's "star" will be barely visible. To demote Ignatieff would simply cause more unrest. The best thing for Dion is to go for an election and at least be able to hold his head high. Maybe Canadians will forgive him for being so wishy-washy and vote for him.
No breakup yet for Dion, Ignatieff
Mar 31, 2008 04:30 AM
By all accounts, the emergency meeting that Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion held with his demoralized Quebec team last week had an uncommon share of surrealistic moments.
Some of Dion's organizers were astounded by his repeated assertions that things were looking up for the party in Quebec.
A CROP poll published on the weekend put numbers on the disconnect between the leader's appreciation of the situation and the Quebec reality. It had the Liberals nine points behind the Conservatives province-wide and in dead heat with the NDP for a distant third place in francophone Quebec with satisfaction with the Harper government running at 55 per cent.
The most surrealistic moment of the meeting came when a Dion loyalist accused Michael Ignatieff of high treason and called on the leader to expel him from the caucus and the party.
While Dion nipped that suggestion in the bud, he has been urged to consider a variety of scenarios designed to clip the wings of his former leadership rival.
On that score, it is widely expected that Bob Rae's entry in the House of Commons today will translate into a de facto reduction of Ignatieff's profile.
Over the past year, Dion has also recurrently been under pressure to demote Ignatieff from his position as deputy leader. That pressure intensified over the course of last week's Quebec mutiny.
It has been a pattern since Dion became leader that whenever he is in trouble in Quebec, all fingers point to Ignatieff as the source of the mischief.
Given that the province's Liberals massively supported Ignatieff bid for the leadership, it has been easy and ultimately only too convenient to see a conspiracy under every Quebec rock that has tripped Dion along his uncertain way. Without Ignatieff's supporters there simply would not be much of a Quebec Liberal wing.
Given the dismal poll numbers, there is no doubt that the vast majority of Liberals in Quebec would rather go with someone other than Dion as their leader in the next federal election.
Some would actually go to extreme and absurd ends to try to get their wish. It would also be in Ignatieff's interest, in as much as he still wants the job, to have another shot at it sooner rather than later.
But none of his strategists think that could realistically happen before the next election. Moreover, it is hard to connect Ignatieff's presumed impatience to have the next campaign over with and the delaying tactics of the Quebec wing.
More than any Liberal constituency, it has gone out of its way to warn that a quick trip to the polls would result in a full-fledged disaster.
Still, in the wake of last week's events and in the climate of suspicion that presides over the party's affairs, only Dion's fear of a potential caucus revolt may be keeping Ignatieff in the deputy leader slot.
That is not a small consideration. There has been nothing in his performance since the leadership campaign in December 2006 to cost him his commanding caucus support.
In the circumstances, a public rebuke to Ignatieff could do for Dion what Jean Chrétien's public breakup with Paul Martin accomplished and bring his weakened leadership to a tipping point.
This is the day when Dion introduces a bolstered Liberal team to the Commons, but that also means there are a few more scorpions in the official opposition bottle.
Chantal Hébert's national affairs column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.