Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Progressive Liberal Community Spurs Decade of Infighting
This weekend the Liberal Party of Canada held it's bi-annual convention in Vancouver. The main draw of the meeting was the anointment and confirmation of Michael Ignatieff as the new Liberal leader. The whole thing was prefaced by two days of partying in so-called "hospitality suites", constitutional blibidy blab, policy workshops, election preparedness workshops, and a host of other meetings for MPs, executive members, supporters, journalists, and other observers.
One of the most heartening things about the whole saga (aside from Jean Chretien's hilarious speech using Stephen Harper's absence from a G-20 photo-op because he was taking a leak as a general metaphor for Canada under his leadership "not being there" when it counts) was the general sense of unity among federal liberals.
It's something that's new for the federal liberal party, and something that seems to be increasingly missing in the other two major federal parties. For the conservatives, the heavy hand of the PMO is becoming increasingly devisive and oppressive, prompting many grumblings among the rank and file. For the NDP, King Layton, Canada's greatest wannabe Prime Minister, is inciting similar frustrations among the party's grassroot supporters who are increasingly pulling for super star candidates like Thomas Mulcair to wrestle the party reigns from the iron clutch of the mustached geographer and his old school labour pals.
For the liberals the feeling of renewal was palpible. Equally exciting for many was the feeling that the old days of Chretien vs. Martin, Ignatieff vs. Rae, Dion vs. Everyone seem to be, at least till the next election, ensconed by what the Beach Boys coined, "good, good vibrations."
When the time came to mount the stage and give his speech after a roaring endorsment by former roomate and challenger Bob Rae, Ignatieff set the room ablaze in a heady roar of red and white thundersticks.
And while the other parties are increasingly moving to stakeout the gains they've made during the dark days of the Dion-era, increasingly Liberals move forward with the confidence of Top Gun's Maverick. Bring on the "Danger Zone" they say. Meanwhile polls these days are putting the Grits ahead of the Tories nationally. Momentum on the ground seems to be moving in a similar direction and in politics, you can't underestimate the importance of momentum.
These days blood's in the air. Tory blood. Watch out Mr. Harper.