First the good news. Michael Ignatieff will be the new leader of the Liberal party. Rae was a bit more naturally likable in my opinion, but Ignatieff will do, too. And the best news of all is that there seems to be, so far, some solidarity on this. Nobody's spoken out yet. (And I don't encourage them in muzzling people - I encourage people to fix problems so that muzzling is never necessary. I hope that the reason nobody's spoken out is that nobody had a compelling reason to.)
As I'm typing this I'm reflecting on the lunacy of the situation. As if we expect someone to cry foul at any minute.
And maybe they should. The thing that bugs me is that they really should have held at least an online one-member-one-vote plebiscite on this. It couldn't have been binding, but they could have at least taken the results to the party executive who would then presumably act according to the wishes of the party members. There is no compelling argument for not having done this.
I think we're also at the end of the line for delegated conventions. They're as obsolete as our parliamentary system - perhaps more egregiously so. One member, one vote. The technology is there, and the informed voters are there (I'm assuming people who buy federal party memberships are already well-informed enough to be trusted to make the best choices for themselves).
It doesn't matter that this was Rae's "hail Mary" play. It should have been done on principle. Yes, the formal ratification would have to have come later and separately - it goes ahead in any case. But with a real choice, even made beforehand, it would have been more meaningful than, say, the 2002 election in Iraq. (Oh, do participate in the upcoming Vancouver lovefest. They need the money! If there's another election, they could be nearly bankrupt.)
What we have instead is an uncontested backroom coronation. It's uncontested only because the other person doesn't have a shot since the pool of the franchised is so shallow. If I was inclined to be uncharitable, I'd compare this to a certain Zimbabwean election that Tsvangirai was forced to withdraw from.
And now our thoughts turn to the future of the Coalition. The latest episode of Politics is instructive on this point. The NDP is still quite keen on it, but Ignatieff would probably like to leapfrog out of the painted corner.
NDP Deputy Leader Thomas Mulcair, appearing on this brooahdcast, said that the NDP doesn't trust Harper anymore - even if he does come out in January with a raft of good ideas, they're not going to "be Charlie Brown" and hope that Lucy doesn't take away the football again next time. If they see something they like, they'll put it into the first Coalition budget.
I don't trust Harper, either. He's done nothing to earn or cultivate any trust. He's shrewd and canny and a great puppeteer. Practically all of the West is marching to his tune. He gets on TV, paints one-sided pictures of things, unfairly demonizes his political opponents, and the pleebs eat it up like it's gospel. Please. He's a sad commentary, too - proof that you don't need to be honest and pragmatic to get to the most powerful office in the country.
So I'm still pro-Coalition, although the odds of it going ahead are much smaller now. Ignatieff might prefer to take his chances with an election. They could also try working with the Conservatives, although there'd better be some major progressive policy concessions from the Cons, or the Liberals are just going to be irrelevant again, just as they were under Dion. (Those repeated abstentions from critical votes made the whole party a laughingstock. Towing the Conservative line for a year or two is equally stupid.)
I wonder when we'll just throw up our hands and cry, "Enough! Enough of politics!" I hope that day comes soon. In the meantime, I suppose this has been a fall to remember!