Coderre quits -- as Quebec lieutenant
The Liberal party's quest to reclaim Outremont has apparently cost it a Quebec lieutenant.
Denis Coderre has resigned from the post after Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff second guessed his advice regarding Martin Cauchon's bid to reclaim Pierre Trudeau's former riding from the NDP's Thomas Mulcair.
"It is a tough decision, a very emotional one that I have to make today," Coderre announced. "But I took four days on my own ...and I thought that I don't have any more the moral authority to remain as the Quebec lieutenant."
Coderre vaguely suggested that, in rejecting his advice regarding Cauchon, that Ignatieff was largely deferring to ignorance.
"Fundamental questions are raised by these events: Who should the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada listen to on decisions that strictly affect Quebec?" Coderre mused. "Should he follow his Quebec lieutenant while working closely with a credible team? Or to his Toronto advisers who know nothing about the social and political realities of Quebec?"
"The lesson drawn from these events is the following: If you want to carry the day on a Quebec issue, all you have to do is perform an end-run around the Quebec authorities of the party, and go to the inner circle from Toronto," Coderre continued. He even seemed to suggest that Ignatieff hadn't merely rebuffed him, but rebuffed the entirety of his Quebec team.
“Contrary to what some may have said, the reconstruction work of the Liberal party in Quebec was not the affair of a single man. The recommendations I made to the leader were always the fruit of concerted decisions approved by our Quebec team.”
For his own part, Michael Ignatieff considers Coderre's charges to be laughable.
“It makes me laugh,” Ignatieff scoffed. “I am leading a pan-Canadian party. I’m proud of my team in Quebec. They have the leadership and responsibility with me, and I repeat with me, to renew the party.”
Rebuilding the Liberal party certainly won't be accomplished by fighting out old grudges in the form of a candidacy campaign, as Coderre was accused of doing. But Coderre himself says this simply wasn't the case.
“This isn’t a settling of accounts against anybody,” he insisted. “I’m not here to settle scores.”
Of course, Coderre also objected to suggestions that he's planning a wildcat leadership campaign. But strategically quitting has long been a standard Liberals planning to take a run at the leadership. Jean Chretien briefly quit politics altogether in 1986 after losing the Liberal leadership to John Turner.
Dissatisfaction with Turner crystalized around Chretien's absence.
Coderre hasn't quit politics altogether. But his resignation as Ignatieff's Quebec lieutenant has been every bit as dramatic as Chretien's brief departure. Chretien managed to transform discontent with the second-worst leader in Liberal party history into his own leadership victory -- and three successive majority governments.
Somewhere, in the back of Denis Coderre's mind, one has to imagine the possibility of this kind of success must be lingering -- particularly for a politician as ambitious as Coderre.
Michael Ignatieff will see much more of Denis Coderre very soon -- very possibly in the midst of a leadership review.
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