It was predictable enough that Denis Coderre would resign his position as the Liberals’ Quebec “lieutenant” in the wake of Michael Ignatieff’s decision to overrule him in the matter of who should carry the party banner in Outremont. Indeed, after such a public rebuff he could hardly do otherwise: his credibility was shot.
What was not so predictable, perhaps, was that he would do so in such a spectacularly destructive, and self-destructive, fashion: the political equivalent of a suicide bombing. To claim that he was the victim of a Toronto-based cabal — one that, by implication, also held Quebec in its grip — is a particularly incendiary charge in Quebec, ever alert to signs of Anglo domination.
It’s not true, of course: Coderre is not Quebec, and many if not most members of the Liberal Party in Quebec would prefer Martin Cauchon to Denis Coderre as their standard-bearer. Amongst those Liberals, I’d guess, would be a majority of the Quebec caucus, plus the party executive — and Jean Chretien.
But it would be no less unforgiveable if it were true. He has not only handed the party’s rivals a durable attack line in Quebec, but has grievously wounded the leader he pretends to support. And while this performance has in all likelihood extinguished whatever slim hopes Coderre might have had of succeeding him as leader, he has also effectively smeared Cauchon as an Uncle Tom, supplicant to les autres. All in the space of about three minutes.
It’s hard to muster much sympathy for Ignatieff, or his circle. It was, after all, that same Toronto cabal that conferred the Quebec captaincy on Coderre, in the apparent belief that he would discard the habits of a political lifetime and put the party’s interests before his own. But then, the apple doesn’t fall far from the leader, does it? I’m told Iggy himself used to say the most shockingly disloyal things when Stephane Dion was leader.
Granted, with more discretion than Coderre. But that’s hardly saying much.
UPDATE: You want to know the worst part of this? It means we have to listen to lectures on loyalty from Jean Lapierre.
UPPERDATE: Good lord, talk about setting the bar low:
Michael Ignatieff is refusing to retreat in Quebec, defiantly showing up at a party fundraiser in suburban Montreal Tuesday night to signal to Liberals that he is still in charge.
Liberal leader shows up at Liberal fundraiser in Liberal stronghold of Montreal. Gutsy.