Liberal leader recognizes (most of) problems with the coalition government
Regardless of what a Craig Oliver may have to say about it, comments made by Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff on Sunday weren't merely his closing argument at a divorce proceeding -- it was a eulogy.
Although Oliver argued that the coalition is very much alive and well under the guise of threatening to defeat the Tories if they decline to amp up Employment Insurance, there has been very little doubt that the coalition, in terms of a governing agreement, is dead and now buried.
Speaking in Montreal -- the source of newfound Liberal strength -- Ignatieff admitted that the coalition was divisive and too unstable to merit trying at a time of economic recession.
"I'm in politics to unify people, not to divide them," Ignatieff explained.
"There was also a question concerning the legitimacy of the coalition that troubled me," Ignatieff continued, noting that the Liberals -- the leader of whom would become Prime Minister -- had just suffered their worst defeat in the 2008 federal election. It would be impossible to argue that the Canadian people had shown confidence in the Liberal party.
Even if the Liberal/NDP coalition commanded the confidence of the house, the outrage provoked would have led to a much more dangerous political crisis -- the loss of citizens' faith in the political system.
Ignatieff didn't seem to understand this particular danger when he insisted that the coalition wasn't undemocratic -- it's hard to have democracy when citizens utterly and completely lose faith in that system.
He did seem to understand the implicit instability of the coalition.
"I felt it was very difficult to guarantee the necessary political stability during a time of crisis with three partners in a formal coalition," he added. "That was my first doubt. I couldn't guarantee the long-term stability of the coalition under the circumstances."
It's evident that a repeat of the Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition simply isn't in the cards -- not even in terms of defeating the government. With the Liberals leading polls partially at the expense of the NDP and Bloc, analysts of varying stripes have noted that it's unlikely that either of those parties would help the Liberals defeat the Conservative government -- not when an election would very likely bring them up short of their current seat totals.
Having instructing his party to prepare an election platform, it's very evident that Ignatieff is eager to fight an election.
But even in the absence of an election, preparing an election platform is still a very wise decision. It demonstrates to Canadians that the Liberals are prepared to govern and are preparing a program on which they would govern if elected -- notwithstanding the breaking of election promises that is common for all political parties.
Michael Ignatieff is making a habit of making wise decisions. Between doing away with the inevitably disastrous Liberal/NDP/Bloc coalition and preparing his party to seek government -- making them a much more credible alternative government -- Ignatieff is making a strong enough case for Prime Minister to make Canadians forget Stephane Dion and consider the Liberal party once again.
Although Ignatieff remains vulnerable on numerous fronts -- his time spent out-of-country, his initial support of the coalition government, the undemocratic way in which he became Liberal leader, and the fact that the ill-fated carbon tax was actually his idea -- Michael Ignatieff has proven to be the renewed strength of the Liberal party.
If he continues to make wise decisions it will be very difficult for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to keep him out of 24 Sussex Drive.
Other bloggers writing about this topic:
Montreal Simon - "Michael Ignatieff and the Moral Quagmire"
Alberta Arvark - "Ignatieff, Flaky on the Coalition
Blogging a Dead Horse - "Ignatieff Knows Less Than a 9th Grader"