Wednesday 10 December 2008

James Laxer ponders what will Ignatieff do

No time for Ignatieff to play Mackenzie King |
If Ignatieff's idea of leadership is to provide confidence for the Harper government as his first act, he could be dooming himself to a short and unhappy career at the helm.

The Liberals would then wear the Harper record on the economy as their record. And while the Conservatives are bound to include some stimulus measures in the budget, there is no way that Harper and Flaherty are going to propose the overhaul of the Canadian economy based on very extensive public investments. And that is what the country needs.

Much though Ignatieff may wish to avoid it, he faces a clear choice. If he keeps Harper in power, it will be Harper who will hold the strong hand. He will determine the date of the next election, and he could well go on to win it. Meanwhile, the NDP, the Bloc and the Greens will feel deeply betrayed if Ignatieff dumps the coalition and allows Harper to remain in power.

At a date, not of his choosing, Ignatieff would go on to face the electorate, squeezed between the Conservative base vote on the one hand and the one third of the electorate already inclined to support parties other than the Liberals and the Conservatives on the other.

For Ignatieff, the WLMK option is a chimera. "A friend to all is a friend to none," Ignatieff could say if he comes to his senses, that is if Aristotle hadn't already said it.

To date, Bob Rae is showing a much clearer understanding of the lay of the political land than is his former roommate.

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