Monday, December 8, 2008

Dion Will Step Aside as Canada's Liberal Leader Ahead of Schedule

Stephane Dion today announced he would step aside as Liberal Party leader as soon as a successor was chosen.

The Liberal Party caucus is poised to choose Michael Ignatieff as their interim leader at a caucus meeting scheduled for Wednesday. New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc is to announce he is dropping out of the race this afternoon to support Ignatieff.

There will still be a Liberal leadership convention in Vancouver in May unless Bob Rae drops out. Rae objects to the Liberal caucus selecting the leader and believes that every Liberal Party member should have a vote. Not surprisingly, Ignatieff is the overwhelming preference of Liberal Party caucus members although Rae does have support amongst Liberals in the Senate. If Ignatieff is chosen at the caucus meeting and Rae opts to continue his campaign then Ignatieff will have a big advantage at the Convention in the spring. I suspect that if the Conservative government of Stephen Harper is toppled next month and Ignatieff is asked by the Governor General to form a government then Rae will drop out of the race. But if Ignatieff either fails to topple the Tories or if he does topple them and the Governor General calls elections and the Liberals lose with Ignatieff at the helm then Rae will have his chance.

Under ordinary circumstances, the Liberals would select an interim leader and wait for Ignatieff and Rae to fight it out in the spring. But since the Liberals have an opportunity to return to power they want their new leader in place by the time the Tories present their budget. The Liberals are trying to get the the Tory government to fall in the House of Commons but might end up bringing down their own house in the process.

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