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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Ignatieff Wins Liberal Leadership By Attrition.

In the post-Stephane Dion reality Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae bow out of the Liberal Leadership race. So the next Liberal leader is the runner up from last time. The crown passes to Michael Ignatieff with a whimper not a bang.

It looks like the transfer of the Federal leadership follows the model of the Miss Universe beauty pageant. In the political reality of beauty pageant succession it is clear that if the winner can’t perform her duties, for whatever reason, then the first runner up will take over and finish the job. Dion’s done and Iggy’s in. The politics of the Federal Liberals and Miss Universe unfold as they should.

As a newly minted Federal Liberal interloper Bob Rae’s leadership hopes depended on him being able to use a coalition approach to attract and create a different power base to win a leadership contest. That would take time and given the tentative nature of Harper’s minority, time is not on Rae’s side.

At a more fundamental level, my sense is Rae is too much yesterday’s man and LeBlanc may be tomorrow’s man but the reality of today requires as sense of urgency, and talent for adaptability and the some political nimbleness. That is where the political focus has to be for the Federal Liberal party. I see Ignatieff as a man of today. In that way he ends up being the transitional leader from the old style centralized power and top-down authority based model of politics to the new networked, internet based political culture that is coming.

A party leader being selected by attrition is not a great day for democracy in the purist’s sense. But the times are not normal, be it economically, environmentally and socially…and for sure politically. The process that results in Ignatieff as leader of the Federal Liberal party is obviously sub-optimal. It does meet the governance needs of these times in Canada…it shows the Federal Liberals to be adaptable and nimble in the face of the economic urgency facing the nation.

The coalition is not dead under Ignatieff. It is merely dormant, having done its job so far. It can be resurrected just as quickly as it was the first time. It will undoubtedly be revived if Harper chooses again to ignore the needs of the nation in favour of his self-centred power hungry political approach.