I have a funny feeling the new guy in charge of the Liberal Party of Canada is going to hang on to his job longer than the last two leaders combined. That hardly amounts to much time considering the short reigns of Stephane Dion and Paul Martin Jr.
Today, Liberal MPs, Senators, defeated candidates, and party executives gave their endorsement to install Michael Ignatieff as the interim leader and presumptive permanent chief five months earlier than originally planned. Party members will have their say in May at a convention where he’ll have his official coronation given his candidacy will likely go uncontested now that Bob Rae has gracefully removed his name from the race.
There’s a lot going for Mr. Ignatieff. Besides the fact that he’s articulate, intellectual, confident, centrist, and without political baggage, perhaps the most significant strength in his leadership is the fact that he has effectively united a caucus in very short time. Demoralized by two successive electoral defeats, weak leaders, and a close call with a dubious coalition, Liberals must be shell-shocked but relieved to have someone at the helm who atleast provides some hope for the future.
He’s by no means without flaws. His intellect and high foreheaded references to Aristotle and Socrates will undoubtedly turn off the joe six packs. His mannerisms and airs may get the better of him but he’ll be anything but boring. He’ll most certainly be a capable match to Stephen Harper, who I doubt will be using his party machine to belittle Ignatieff the way it was used on Dion. For Harper, the easy days of being Prime Minister are now over.