Stay Classy, Coderre



Ah, those were the days.

The headlines alone are a train wreck: “The Quebec Wing Of The Liberal Party Decapitated”; “Ignatieff’s Toronto Advisors Flayed“; “Wounded Ignatieff Faces Test Of Leadership“; “Headless Body In Topless Bar” (just kidding–that would be something to read).

The common thread in the acres of column inches under these fragrant headlines is this: in failing to extinguish the Coderre-Cauchon catfight–and, in fact, actually escalating it–Ignatieff has failed his first true test as leader of the Liberal Party. He has doomed the party’s chances in Quebec where, hungover as we still are from a certain sponsorship whoopsie, he was in rough shape to begin with. Add a raft of cascading poll numbers and voila!, the Liberal Party is toast. Here in Quebec, and everywhere else. Call the moving company, Zsuzsanna, we’re going back to Harvard. Hell, L Ian Macdonald was on the radio the other day musing about la fin de Iggy–though big grain of salt here, given Mr. Macdonald’s credentials.

Here’s the thing, though: Coderre’s departure is in many respects a good thing, and one need look no further than Coderre’s kiss-off yesterday as evidence.

You don’t need to dig into the archives to taste Coderre’s knack for placing knives between shoulder blades. In his comments yesterday, the lifelong Liberal repeatedly stuck it to the party he professes to love. In raising the notion that what is best for Quebec is decided in Toronto–a silly thing to say, considering the federal Liberals are relying on key Charest advisors to help deliver the province–Coderre gives a gift to the Bloc québécois, and I’m willing to bet anyone reading these words that Coderre’s bon mots will find their way onto the BQ’s campaign literature in the next election.

Do you really want someone like this, someone who acts like a belligerent crybaby when he doesn’t get what he wants, minding the store in the next election? Look at Outremont for a second. I know next to zilch about Nathalie Le Prohon, Coderre’s handpicked candidate there. I’m sure she’s nice and all, but Thomas Mulcair has successfully coloured old, red Outremont a shade of orangey-green, and in order to right things there the Liberals need a slam dunk. Martin Cauchon is a slam dunk. Coderre knows it, but pettiness and ego got in the way.

One last note. Jean Lapierre, himself a former Quebec lieutenant, wondered out loud today how the Liberal Party could possibly get by without a Quebec lieutenant. “I don’t see how this could work,” said the Liberal-turned-Bloc-turned-television analyst-turned-cabinet minister-turned-television analyst. “The Liberal Party has always had a political lieutenant since Ernest Lapointe.” Exactly: it’s a vestige of the past that should be done away with. Everything about it, right down to the name, has a Duplessis-esque quality to it, suggesting that Quebecers need to be overseen, prodded, herded, or what have you by a someone with a militaristic title. Denis Coderre, Quebec Liuetenant? Salut la visite, as they say.

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Stay Classy, Coderre

  1. Agreed. Coderre's back where he belongs—at the kids' table, not mingling with the grown-ups.

  2. Coderre throws handgrenades into the liberal bunker on the way out. With friends like this who needs enemies?Could this be renewal thrust on Ignatieff whether he will or not? Agreed.It's a good thing.

  3. Was the photo of when Iggy had to keep Coderre from bolting to Bob Rae to try keep Stépahen Dion from winning the leadership in 2006?

    • Wasn't Coderre instrumental in 'helping' MI toss Dion under the bus?

      • He's an equal-opportunity underminer.

  4. Ignatieff played this very wrong, however, to let it get this far.

    As did Cauchon, who wanted his favorite riding back after being retired for 5 years.

    And Coderre is loathsome.

  5. I enjoy the Ignatieff poster and the Dion poster side by side in the picture.

  6. Whatever the respective merits of either Cauchon or Coderre, Ignatieff has bungled it and now has the egg on his face. Doesn't matter that Coderre or Cauchon or both have a whole omelette on their face, its Ignatieff who should have nipped this in the bud.

  7. It remains to be seen whether cauchon can even win the Liberal nomination in Outremont. I wouldn't be surprised if Coderre secretely pours resources into helping the guy running against Cauchon to win.

  8. What happens if there's no election for a year ? Do these star candidates want to hang around that long, or would they prefer going back to academia, or wherever it is that they came from ?

  9. As an ex-Quebec Liberal (ex on both) I was only too pleased to see Denis Coderre out.

    Intrigues are still going to happen in the PLCQ… but giving one person a strongman position over a political machine prioritizes loyalty over results.

    I'm really surprised to read all the English Canadian media spelling certain doom for Ignatieff. It's lazy reporting – it just feeds into a old media narrative, that of the Liberal Family Feud. I sense that reporters are only too happy to bring out that chestnut again, because it means they don't actually have to do research, or wade into the complicated business of Quebec politics (or actually talk to any Quebec Liberals.) I've seen really rough Liberal feuds, and they tend to infect the grassroots as much as anything else. This is nothing like Chretien vs. Martin, or Martin vs. Manley, or even the rifts that developed around the 2006 leadership. After Dion, Liberals were really chastened and are focused much more on electoral success now; I think a lot of the era of open warring in the party is over and seen as ill-advised and harmful. Denis Coderre's decision is not being hailed by anyone in the Liberal party, which is full of people who are ambitious to win back power. You'll note that of his entire machine, he was only able to convince a few of his handpicked people to resign – one of them, his cousin. The overall talk I am hearing from Quebec is astonishment that Coderre has picked up his ball and gone home. Nobody wants to win seats again more than Quebec Liberals. There has been little good news for federal Liberals in the province since the scandale des commandites. So Coderre's actions are seen as only partially a strike against Ignatieff's "Toronto" advisors; it's a betrayal of the party, and that rests on him.

    If Ignatieff has problems, they're probably to do with the bad polls around the fall election. Strategically he's backed himself into a corner. We'll have to see how he can extricate himself from that.

  10. "Look at Outremont for a second. I know next to zilch about Nathalie Le Prohon, Coderre's handpicked candidate there. I'm sure she's nice and all, but Thomas Mulcair has successfully coloured old, red Outremont a shade of orangey-green, and in order to right things there the Liberals need a slam dunk."

    Thank you for saying this, Martin. I'm getting a little tired of hearing about Coderre's so-called genius organizing skills. That alone shows a lack of judgement.

    Coderre gone from that post is the best thing that could have happed to the Liberals. I'm only sorry that he didn't tear up his membership card during his tantrum.

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