It seems that the Liberals are just unable to find a product that they can successfully package and sell to a majority of Canadians. The tired old reliable old Harper who from time to time does a little dance or dons a new sweater seems to outsell the supposed great thinker and human rights prof. Ignatieff. Having recalled Dion since the Green Shift was seen as wildly too expensive for Canadian tastes the Liberals have now set their sights on repackaging the recycled NDP ex provincial premier Bob Rae. Maybe the party might try putting forth some new ideas instead of repackaging their products. This is from the Star.
Back to Liberal MPs plot early retirement for Ignatieff
Liberal MPs plot early retirement for Ignatieff
Last year at this time, the Liberals were trying to get rid of Stéphane Dion and put themselves in the hands of their saviour, Michael Ignatieff. After 12 months, they believe that Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario now turned Liberal, is the new saviour.
Last year the opportunity to reboot the party's fortunes came after Dion forced the Liberals to embrace the Bloc-supported coalition with the NDP. This year the spark might be Ignatieff's support for the HST. The question many ask is whether Ignatieff's leadership will last until the end of the year.
Since Pierre Trudeau, no Liberal leader has left on his own terms. John Turner was shown the door by the Chrétienites; Jean Chrétien was forced out by Martinites; we know what happened to Dion and now we see Ignatieff is on the same path.
Since last Tuesday's "special" caucus meeting called by the leader to tell MPs to support the controversial HST, doubts about Ignatieff's ability to lead the party are surfacing more frequently. Many MPs openly oppose the HST, and those who backed the party's stand, like Rae, express their support only in private. No one is defending the leader in public, in the caucus or with the media. Basically, Ignatieff is alone and the question of loyalty is becoming a huge obstacle to his leadership.
Contrary to the superficial unity Liberals show in the House, a revolt is brewing underneath.
Trudeau once said that MPs are nobodies 100 yards away from Parliament. Things, it would seem, are changing. In fact, it looks like the real politics are taking place away from the Hill, especially during after-hours meetings in Ottawa restaurants like Mamma Teresa, trendy Hy's or in the dimly lit corners of the Château Laurier. Lately, the topic has been the HST and Ignatieff's leadership. In fact, one of those after-hours meetings took place last Tuesday at the Château.
It all started after a gathering to mark the retirement of Liberal Senator Jerry Grafstein from the Hill. Among those present were Ignatieff and Rae.
After they had all feted the popular senator with great words of love and affection, some MPs – invited by Rae for a drink – moved "100 yards away from the Hill" into the Château Laurier. Here the façade of unity vanished, the true face of today's Liberal party materialized and the real work of politics, which no longer takes place on the Hill, was in full swing.
Glen Pearson, an MP from London and one of those present for the nightcap with Rae, said that in his opinion Ignatieff was losing the loyalty of the party and Rae was "the only one the party trusts." Carolyn Bennet, also present at the meeting, said that David McGuinty, Justin Trudeau and others are already planning their leadership runs and it was time for Rae to do something.
Then the conversation shifted to some concrete proposals. In particular, they told Rae that many MPs believe he should become "the deputy leader with authority to manage all the files in the House of Commons," basically a kind of CEO. They also said that Ignatieff shouldn't be asking questions in the House but travelling throughout Canada "attending functions."
Some also said that Ralph Goodale should be removed from his House responsibilities because, they said, he brings no added value to the party, no expertise, no financial wherewithal and doesn't deliver seats in his own province.
Rae also was critical of the performance of the leader but said he was not interested in a coup d'état. However, he added that his loyalty is solely to the Liberal party.
Ruby Dhalla said that loyalty is a two-way street and accused the party of not doing enough to nurture the next generation of leaders. During the conversation, it was suggested that a group of MPs should meet with chief of staff Peter Donolo and present some of these proposals as soon as possible.
This was not an isolated meeting between a few MPs – it's the dominant theme of discussion among almost all Liberal MPs uncertain about their future.
I wouldn't be surprised if Ignatieff were to reconsider his political future and go back to his beloved academic world before the end of the year.
Angelo Persichilli is the political editor of Corriere Canadese. His column appears Sunday.