Sunday, May 1, 2011

On Iggy, and on Inevitability

Michael Ignatieff is not the worst leader we could have gotten here in the Liberal Party. I can think of several other possible leaders that, had they been elected or continued on, would have either led us to the same conclusion, or worse. The fact is, much of what the Liberals are facing right now was set in motion many, many years ago, and indeed, it may be the natural conclusion of decisions made long before Ignatieff's time.

So for Ignatieff to say that regardless of the outcome, he wants to stay on as leader, is not something that is completely out of the question. After all, John Turner barely avoided the same conclusion in 1984, but he stayed on thanks to the fact that his supporters controlled a good portion of the executive, and the fact that it was seen as pretty much the unavoidable consequence of the Trudeau era on Canadian's voting patterns, especially those out West and in Quebec. Reality is, Turner really didn't have a choice - the sands of Canada's political wasteland were calling, and they nearly took us out then, as they're threatening to do now.

This being said, Ignatieff made some mistakes - getting out of the coalition not one of them - and he'll have to face the Liberal Party's members for it. I'm glad to see that he's committed to serving out his term as leader, but if we say he's done, he's done. That's the mark of a leader who wasn't in it just for himself. He's willing to face up to his mistakes and the consequences of them, but committed enough to say that he'll stick around and help try and fix them if we give him the chance. I think Michael did a good job as leader, but he may not have had a choice this election. There are simply some things that no matter how good of a campaign you run, how well you reach out to voters, you can't change. Just remember this for the future: attack ads and Quebec, they're still very effective.

If we end up third tomorrow, it's a new challenge that we as Liberals have to face up to. It isn't new, because many of our provincial cousins, including here in Ontario, have faced third-party status and bounced back. What it required as a rethink of what the party represented and who they reached out to, alongside some convenient mistakes made by the other two parties. It's likely to happen in the future for the federal party as well, considering that, regardless of what Warren Kinsella or CuriosityCat say, there will be no merger (unless we are really down that badly). Our job is to present Canadians with a renewed Liberal Party that will appeal to them, one that can bite back into that support we've lost. This may require time, but I'm willing to make the time to do it. I haven't been in the party that long, since 2008, but I'm more committed to it than I ever have been. I hope others will do the same.

My vision for the Liberals will be different from others, but I think together, we can kick it into overdrive and we want show Canadians who we are, and what we represent, and why it was that millions of voters put their trust in the Liberal Party for eight decades of this country's history. The New Democrats and Conservatives can revel in reaching their goal of destroying the Liberals for a time, but we will be back, and better than ever before.


  1. You miss the point. Any leader, in any political party, before an election will *always* say he is going to stay on after the election, regardless of the outcome. To say otherwise would be to welcome defeat before it comes. After the election, we'll deal with what happens after the election. All these questions, including those about hypothetical coalitions, are premature anytime before the results are known. Gilles Duceppe said it best when asked a hypothetical in 2008: "If my grandmother had wheels, she'd be a tractor"
    That should have been the only response to hypotheticals about anything that happens after the election. Its crazy to speculate. Let go vote, and we'll see what happens.

  2. Dan F,

    I think its pretty clear at this point where we're heading. If we avoid that conclusion, I will be very surprised. But there's a 90% certainly that by now, our goose is cooked. It may just be "hypotheticals," but I'm willing to place my bets on the possibility.