It just might be a good idea if the Spirit World visited Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal Party of Canada for Christmas this year.
Ghost of Christmas Past – Last year, around Christmas time Michael Ignatieff’s dream to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada was taking shape.
Coming off a miserable election defeat, then-leader Stephane Dion was looking toward the NDP and the Bloc Quebecois to seize power away from the Conservatives. Dion’s spin machine couldn’t make the coalition idea stick, as Conservatives successfully made the argument that the Grits and the NDP were making a deal with separatists.
Ignatieff’s moves avoided another costly leadership race. Bob Rae proved to be the kingmaker, stepping aside for a smooth appointment as leader. Ignatieff distanced himself from the coalition scheme, moving instead to carve some Parliamentary cooperation in the 2009 Budget. Election averted.
Ghost of Christmas Present – Today, there is a lingering ghost of uncertainty. In the span of a year, Michael Ignatieff moved from certainty, through a number of restarts, to totally uncertainty.
When a leader ascends, there is the expectation that they have a good plan and they are ready to lead. Restart number one: The beginning. Michael Ignatieff just didn’t have it quite right, appointing the so-called “Rosedale Gang” to his office. Restart number two: Bring on Ian Davey as Chief of Staff. The strategy is to defeat the Conservatives and hold an election at all costs. However, a controversy in Quebec leads to a resignation, then criticism over the leader and his Toronto-based war machine. Restart number three: Bring on Peter Donolo as Chief of Staff. Restructure the Opposition Leader’s office and be a little more strategic and patient. The election needs to happen at the right time. I like this restart.
Unfortunately, three-restarts is a little too much for a party that already expects to be back in power. The changes may be too-little, too late.
Ghost of Christmas Future – For the most successful political party in Canada, who arguably represents the populist standards of Canadian society – the future is uncertain. There will be an election before Christmas. The Liberals will form a government before Christmas. But will it be before Christmas 2010? Probably not.
Will Michael Ignatieff be at the helm of the Party? There have been reports that Iggy may be moving to retire from the Party leadership. These rumours are no doubt unsubstantiated blabber from disgruntled senior party officials and caucus folks.
To his credit, Ignatieff moved quickly to dismiss the rumours. But the same thing happened to Chretien and Dion. Rumours turn into tactics, tactics turn into options, options turn into proposals.
The ghost of Christmas future may be another leader by next Christmas.
Bob Rae may be the next to ascend the throne, but he comes with his own baggage and likely the same results as the leaders before him.
What can the Party learn from the various ghosts? That remains to be seen. The Liberal Party is in a funk. Perhaps, the Party needs another full-fledged leadership race. The Party definitely needs some vision and some new blood. But not Justin Trudeau blood, just yet.
The Liberal Party of Canada need to learn from all these lessons, just as Scrooge had to learn his.