Sunday, October 22, 2006

A rationale for the anybody-but-Ignatieff movement

So the Liberal leadership race is making some noise. Principally due to a motion passed by the Quebec Liberal wing to the effect that Quebec should be recognized as a "nation" within Canada. Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner, supports this motion. Bob Rae and Stephane Dion do not. Gerard Kennedy's French is poor so he failed to make any impact or statement of note on the issue in the French language debate yesterday.

Kudos to Rae and Dion for taking on this irresponsible motion. It may be just a wave to Quebec nationalism in any event, as it's simply now a motion moving forward onto the national Liberal agenda for consideration at the December convention. Nevertheless, Ignatieff's support of it marks a real turning point in this race. He's joined the ranks of those who wish to pander to Quebec nationalism for political purposes. He may protest that it's a heartfelt belief, it's not politics. Yet it's made in the heat of a leadership race with political consequences. So whatever the root, it has to be considered for the dynamic it's creating.

This is a needless stirring up of nationalistic sentiment at a time when it's clearly at bay. Rae and Dion's instincts to challenge this folly are right on. Ignatieff's move raises serious doubts about his ultimate electability as the Liberal standard bearer now that he's taken on such a position clearly out of step with the traditional Liberal position. This marks a significant turning point when the anybody-but-Ignatieff movement now has perhaps its most significant raison-d'etre.