Tuesday, April 28, 2009

 

A MATTER OF LEADERSHIP

Come this weekend, members of the Federal Liberal Party are meeting in Vancouver where they will officially anoint Michael Ignatieff the party's leader.

As someone pointed-out just a couple of days ago, since taking-over the helm early in January, Mr. Ignatieff has been as lucky as his predecessor, Stephane Dion, was cursed. The Liberals, which some say are nearly out of debt and riding a small-wave lead in the polls over the Tories expect to come out of their Vancouver policy sessions energized and ready for battle against the Harper Conservatives.

Hold-on though! While the Prime-Minister has been doing his level best to plaster over the cracks in his own caucus over Brian Mulroney, some commentators are suggesting that Mr. Ignattieff may be facing a similar challenge over his Quebec's lieutenant's long-wished desire to lead the party himself. On the eve of the Liberal's Vancouver meetings, Montreal's "La Presse" says M-P, Denis Coderre, and the Leader haven't exactly been seeing eye-to-eye. According to the newspaper one of the more contentious issues involves Mr. Coderre's decision to invite Guy Gougoux to assume a leading role (Vice-President) of the Quebec wing of the Federal Party. Quebec is obviously a key to an eventual Liberal Government.

Mr. Gougoux heads BCP Advertising which although no charges were ever brought, the Gomery Commission learned had received Federal advertising contracts worth about $300-million during the period Jean Chretien was Prime-Minister. Mr. Ignatieff isn't in any way prepared to re-open that nefarious affair.

As for the Prime-Minister and the Conservative caucus. It's clear that scabs on wounds dating back to the period before the merger of the Progressive-Conservatives and the Alliance have been ripped-open by Mr. Harper's efforts to distance himself from his old mentor, Brian Mulroney. Lest I digress: As April is "Organ Donor" awareness month. Wags in Ottawa have been telling a joke about Mr. Mulroney donating Karl Heinz Schreiber's "tongue", preferably in a plain brown envelope...

Mr. Harper though has had a heck of a time putting the lid back on the ill-conceived notion of leaking a story that Mulroney was no longer a member of the Party. Off the record, former Progressive-Conservatives within the ruling Conservatives have pointed-out that Mulroney led his party to two straight majority victories in 1984 and 1988. Milestones which have so far eluded Mr. Harper in the three Federal elections since becoming leader.

It seems there are enough elements of in-fighting at work in both major federal parties to ward-off an election in the short-term. But: Writing in the "National Post" about the recent good fortune of the Liberal Party since Ignatieff's arrival, John Ivison says: "Happy days are here again for Liberals...The fairy-tale nature of the story has Liberals itching to bring down the Conservatives this fall."

All of which means we're likely in for a long summer of damaging accusations, attack advertising, and very few concrete accomplishments to get the derailed economy back on track.

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