ABC Spells “Trouble” for Ignatieff

December 7, 2008

While last weekend’s ABC (anything but conservative) Coalition talks were, well, coalescing, I told my wife, “I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

I can’t really claim to have had any sort of prescient foresight, any brilliant interpretation of the constitutional role of the Governor General, or anything of the sort. It was more of a gut feeling.

My thought? There’s no way Michael Ignatieff will go along with it.

Ignatieff in happier times

Ignatieff in happier times

As the Liberal leadership candidate with majority MP backing (50 of 77), not to mention the coolest CV, Iggy had to back this thing or else it was a non-starter. Why would he cede his possible honeymoon period to a nice-but-clearly-a-liability-interim-leader like Stephane Dion? There was just too much to lose, especially with the type of legislation the coalition would be bringing to the table. As one of my profs once said, there’s an inelegance in spending large quantities of money. And with Jack and Gilles up on the hill, there’d be inelegance-a-plenty.

But suppose it worked. Maybe Dion would perform tremendously (and on Monday, it looked like he might). The May 2 Liberal leadership race might begin to look like a mistake. Even in the best case scenario, Ignatieff would inherit the PMO at the convention. But if Ignatieff was living in Canada for the past 25 years, he’d know that Canadian politics aren’t very nice to Prime Ministers who inherit the job (Mr. Ignatieff, since you were away, please check the Wikipedia entries for Paul Martin, Kim Campbell, and John Turner).

But Ignatieff went ahead and signed the coalition papers. And now the wheels have fallen off the wagon, Dion is looking more like Stockwell Day than the future Prime Minister.

Presuming Ignatieff is the next Liberal leader (really, who else?), I can’t see how he isn’t going to be severely wounded in the next federal election. By lending his signature to the coalition, however reluctant he may have been, Ignatieff won’t be able to amble up the rhetorical high road.

Harper is already there, turning his own blunder into a prospective majority (and shoring up his lagging western support to boot). I’m still not quite sure how he managed it. Maybe it’s because the majority of Canadians hate at least one of the coalition’s triumvirate (plus the suddenly silent Senator Elizabeth May). If Canadian elections are about the least of five evils, then maybe the evils add up!

No prescience needed for my last thought either: Ignatieff will need to execute some skillful Harperesque maneuvering to get out of this one. A speedy leadership convention won’t make it any easier.


One comment

  1. “For the Conservatives, the most damage in the past week seems to have come from the province of Quebec, where a plurality believe Mr. Harper should resign as leader of the party and a majority blame the Conservatives more than anyone else for the parliamentary crisis.” Dumb Harper was foolish enough to attack the coalition government blame on Quebcers and he is now continuing to pay the price for it. He Harper cannot win without the support of Quebec, east.. nor can the Liberals


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