Janine Krieber appears to have signaled that a segment of the Liberal Party is readying to part ways with Michael Ignatieff and the party’s current leadership.
In her now widely reported Facebook message, Stephane Dion’s wife tells Liberals “the time has arrived to make a choice” between a party led by Ignatieff “that risks winding up in the dustbin of history” and “a dedicated party, one that doesn't challenge its leader with every dip in the polls.”
By now, it is no secret that the Liberal Party is more accurately two parties. In brief, one segment of the party is of a progressive-reformist bent, committed to thinking big thoughts on matters of the day and working towards the unfulfilled goals of previous generations. The other party – and the more influential of the two – is an establishment bloc based out of the cocktail parties of Toronto's social elite that is just as conservative in its tone and tempo as the Conservatives.
Perhaps tellingly, it was just about this time last year that the hopes of the “progressive” side were dashed as the “establishment” side reasserted itself. The hasty installation of Michael Ignatieff as leader confirmed that Stephen Harper would get his second chance. All the promise of the historic Liberal-NDP accord was over.
Since then, Ignatieff has overseen a collapse in Liberal support from 37 percent and a lead over the Conservatives to a miserable 24 percent in the most recent poll. Krieber’s diagnosis is that the illness which has stricken her party under Mr. Ignatieff is fatal.
The challenge to progressive Liberals looking at the future in front of them is whether they are prepared to stick with a party that has lost its heart and faces disaster in the next election under a leader plagued by his own contradictions, or as Ms. Krieber urges, are they ready to make another choice?
And is that other choice - “a dedicated party, one that doesn't challenge its leader with every dip in the polls” – a none too veiled allusion to Jack Layton’s New Democrats?