Monday, December 18, 2006

Ignatieff tapped as Liberal deputy leader

This might not be the very best picture for this story about possibly bringing the wolf into the house but the story has the potential to lead to great things.

For those with long memories, the 1984 Liberal leadership (Turner over Chretien) was a disaster where Chretien resigned shortly after from the House of Commons. Blood continued to drip for years as the defeated sought to overturn the victors through any means necessary.

The aftermath of the 1990 leadership race (Chretien over Martin) provided a lighter alternative. Martin didn't resign and poke from the outside. Instead he stayed on and provided the country with one of the most valuable PM-Fin minister partnerships of recent years.

And, by the way, he and his minions worked steadily to undermine the sitting prime minister and to push him out at the very earliest opportunity.

The 2003 leadership run saw a rout (Martin over ... who was that again??) where one man and his supporters controlled the party machinery and enjoyed the wide support of the party membership in a way rarely seen before. Martin faced no real organized internal or external party factions arrayed against him because his team had ruthlessly smite them all except for the occasional remaining Chretien loyalists.

To the surprise of most, it turned out that his main threat to continued Liberal hegemony was himself.

I remember attending a breakfast with the 2001 leadership candidates of the NL Liberal party. Roger Grimes, John Efford and Paul Dicks were polite and even downright warm to each other. The one thing they all agreed on was that after the race, ranks would be closed and the party would remain united and strong.

It took Paul Dicks until the end of the convention day to walk out of the party and politics. Efford stuck it out a little longer, some weeks as I recall, before he too huffed off to Ottawa in a cloud of acrimony.

Turned out that Grimes had won a Pyhrric victory - while he won the leadership of the party, it was badly divided and headed for political oblivion.

So now we have the possibility of a new day. Stephane Dion is moveing to include more former rivals in ways more meaningful than we've seen from a major party in a long time, perhaps ever.

Besides Ignatieff as deputy leader, CBC reports that Bob Rae will be in charge of developing the party platform for the next election,Gerard Kennedy will play a senior role in organizing the national election campaign and Martha Hall Findlay might be given the task of traveling the country and consulting with the Liberal grassroots on policy.

Is he letting the wolves into the house? Or is he strengthening the cause of party unity and providing a cohesive front to voters as a powerful and attractive alternative to the Conservatives?

It all depends on how well the former rivals stay former rivals and not prematurely future rivals angling for another round.

No comments: