I have to admit to being confounded at the latest moves by the Liberal brain-trust to make the position of “interim leader” as unrewarding and thankless as could be imagined. Who, if indeed anyone, will emerge from today’s caucus meetings is a mystery. Certainly not Ralph Goodale, and most likely not Bob Rae, given the constraints imposed by the party poobahs.
In fact, the question of whether a “leader” of any kind is required by the Liberals just now is far from clear. As a third-party with no definite goals of its own and little real say in the affairs of a majority government with a shiny new mandate, whatever useful purpose may be served by having a symbolic public face of the party, a figurehead in parliament, or whatever, would likely be more than offset by the divisive ramifications of such a hasty, ill-considered appointment.
A quick scan of the papers indicates that press has rendered its verdict on the outcome of the election – the only questions now remaining being ones of degree. How large will Harper’s victory be? How much will the “orange wave” translate into new seats for the NDP? And finally, how long before the Liberals head into yet another leadership campaign?
Stumping in Montreal, Michael Ignatieff gamely draws a hockey analogy suggesting that many a reversal of fortune has been realized late in the third period and people need to stay tuned until the final siren. A comment that prompted John Ibbitson to whisper in the ear of a fellow reporter that “some people do turn off the TV when it’s 6-0.”
Meanwhile, over at the Globe & Mail, Jane Taber is already performing an autopsy on the Liberal campaign, citing various possible causes of death. So far, her findings are inconclusive, but are trending to “all of the above” as being the most likely culprit.
From the same shopworn chucklehead who last week inexplicably ventured “smart money” on Harper likely exiting stage right this year, now comes the latest inane prattle — this time chiding Michael Ignatieff for his low-profile debut as Liberal leader.
Sorry Larry, but you lost me at “Archduke”…
That one single iota of rhetorical effort should be needed to dispel the profound silliness of the casual assertions and logical dingleberries of this deeply unserious hack perhaps says more to the desperate vacuum of Canadian political news we find ourselves in at the moment than anything else.
I’m not sure if the Liberals want to be associated with the word “Rat” all considered. Nor can I can see the slightest resemblance between the current leader and his would-be successors to the suave and debonair band of entertainers of the same name, but aside from that Scott Feschuk does offer up some sound advice:
Stephen Harper is so cheerless and his ministers are so fearful and enfeebled that there has just got to be some public-opinion reward awaiting a party that showcases its humanity, displays a sense of humour and stops acting as though the fate of the free world depended on the government’s response to the second report of the third meeting of the Standing Committee on Whatever the Hell.
Calmly ask questions that are actual questions, not allegations. Heckle only if you’re got a killer one-liner. Don’t shriek like a little girl who’s skinned her knee. Don’t theatrically declare Stephen Harper the Worst. Prime Minister. Ever. (Do rob five casinos in one night, but only if you can get away clean.)
Considering the woeful state of Liberal fundraising efforts, an Ocean’s Eleven caper might not be such a bad idea… I doubt this crew could pull it off though.
It’s hard to tell whether Stephen LeDrew is being serious here, but I have to admit the same thought has crossed my mind:
All observers agree that the next Liberal leader must be savvy, experienced, quick on his or her feet, gutsy and able to beat Stephen Harper. All of the above individuals have varying degrees of the credentials required, but one politician who no one has considered so far could really juice up the race.
So come on down, Danny Williams! As they say on the Rock, “My son, we loves ya.” You always knew when you were beating up Prime Minister Harper that you were just practicing for the big time. And you were wildly successful in clearing Newfoundland and Labrador of every Tory.
It would be highly amusing, if nothing else.
Update: Seeing as the conversation seems to have turned to Bob Rae for some reason, here he makes his intent to run for the leadership clear (as opposed to the story that appeared in the Globe & Mail the other day).
He dismissed the report of being hesitant as “totally false” and said in an e-mail to The Globe: “This whisper crap has to be brought to an end.”
One of his key supporters attributed the rumours to other candidates and their backers, specifically New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc.
In related news… Frank McKenna has begged off running in any forthcoming leadership race, citing a “longer time commitment” than he’s prepared to make at age 60 to what he feels would be needed in order to “repristinate” the LPC.
Update: But here’s something that looks rather promising.
Update2: “There’s no air of excitement.” — Ipsos pollster. Duh.
As reported in absolutely glowing terms in this morning’s Toronto Star, here’s a trial leadership balloon being floated by Sen. David Smith (not mentioned, but I’d venture to bet he’s behind this) and Sen. Jerry Grafstein. Surely, they cannot be entirely serious.
Interesting to learn that he’s not going to be running for leadership this time around.
Let me just tack onto this humorous little video a more serious note, provided in the form of a letter to the Toronto Star recently by a Mr. Anthony Lafratta of Mississauga who wrote:
I fully agree with the pragmatic thrust of Thomas Axworthy’s argument: the Liberal party is in desperate need of renewal. The party needs to re-energize its base; it needs to raise more money from its membership; and it needs to give its members a real voice in policy direction. Altogether, this should yield more votes and more seats in the next election.
However, I don’t understand why Mr. Axworthy stops there. Why must the membership be consulted on policy but remain virtually impotent when it comes to making the most important decision that a party can make: the selection of its leader?
Party members will continue to feel like powerless observers in the leadership selection process unless the Liberals move away from a delegate-based process and toward to a one-person, one-vote system (similar to the process used by the Conservative party, which, as Mr. Axworthy notes, has managed to raise more than two times more funds from supporters than the Liberals since 2004).
Without real, meaningful inclusion in this process, why would party members feel compelled to contribute to the Liberal cause by opening their wallets or pounding on doors come election time? The continued existence of such middlemen delegates in a purportedly democratic process is absurd.
At a time when confidence in the Liberal brand sits an all-time low, the party’s coffers are drained and the activity of its membership is waning, the party should pounce on the opportunity to re-energize its base by making membership in the party more meaningful?
Allowing members to select the new leader directly seems like an obvious first move.