The last poll I saw had the Grits near their lowest level of this decade. An EKOS poll showed the Liberals were down to 25.1 per cent of the respondents. This is perilously close to the 24 per cent they were at under former leader Stéphane Dion, and that only after Mr. Dion had led the party to defeat in the 2008 election, and then compromised them by joining a formal coalition with Jack Layton’s New Democrats, which was supported by the Bloc Québécois—an enormously unpopular initiative.
And just as Mr. Dion had blamed the Conservatives for “framing” him in an unfavourable light, his replacement Michael Ignatieff is blaming the Conservatives for painting him unfavorably by insisting he is not fit to lead Canadians after three decades living and working in the United Kingdom and the United States. Mr. Ignatieff claims the Tories have “done a number” on him. In both cases, these men ignore their inept leadership as a possible reason for their inability to make headway in the polls.
And, in the case of Mr. Ignatieff, he must realize that even within his own caucus there are those who believe, as one caucus member is quoted as saying, “He [Ignatieff] doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing because he’s been 35 years out of the country.”
This suggests to me that there is little hope of the Liberals winning the most seats in Parliament in the next election, unless the Tories make a horrendous misstep or the Liberals pull a new leader out of their collective hat—and I can’t see who that might be.
Were I a Liberal, I’d chose MP Dominic LeBlanc (Beauséjour, N.B.), a 10-year MP and the son of the late and former governor general Roméo LeBlanc. Then I’d stick with him for a couple of years so he can gain the sort of national profile needed to go head-to-head with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But the Grits are not likely to do that.
Having watched the Canadian political scene for several decades, I can’t believe the Liberals—who are still convinced they are the natural governing party—are not working on some strategy to regain office. They must be salivating at the opportunity presented by PM Harper’s inability to gain enough support to form a majority government. The Grits—like conservatives before the unite-the-right movement was successful—must be thinking along the line of some form of left-of-centre coalition.
Interestingly, Toronto Star’s Chantal Hébert—on last week’s At Issue TV segment—said Jean Chrétien and Ed Broadbent, high profile former leaders of the Grits and the Dippers respectively, are having coalition discussions. Should these parties come together in some formal way, especially if they informed Canadians in advance of an election, it could be a game changer.
The prospect of a Conservative government propped up for months on end by the separatists would not have favourable optics and could seriously damage our brand. The Bloc Québécois is a poison pill in Canadian politics, and it is proper that they should be. Whichever party the Bloc formally supports will pay a heavy price in future elections.
An interesting challenge for the combined Liberal and New Democrat parties, therefore, is to up their game enough to win sufficient seats to not have to rely on the Bloc. That would put a future minority Conservative government between a rock and a hard place. (Shudder)