Michael Ignatieff will become Prime Minister in a Liberal-led coalition government if the opposition parties succeed in bringing down the Conservatives in a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons next week and if the Governor-General deems it to be a viable alternative, sources said late last night.
Mr. Ignatieff met with lame duck Liberal leader, Stéphane Dion, and leadership candidates Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc in Toronto last night and hammered out a deal that would see Mr. Dion and Mr. Rae step aside, with the latter named to a senior post, likely Foreign Affairs Minister.
Earlier, Mr. Dion is understood to have struck a deal with NDP leader Jack Layton in which the New Democrats would get around a quarter of the seats around the Cabinet table, if the coalition bid to unseat the Conservatives is successful. The deal would have a guaranteed two and a half year lifespan.
It is understood that Mr. Ignatieff was reluctant to sign on unless he was named interim leader because it would leave Mr. Dion, who was recently rejected by the Canadian electorate, as leader.
Prior to the deal being struck, sources close to Mr. Ignatieff said he was unlikely to support the deal because of concerns that a coalition government led by Mr. Dion would be a “poisoned chalice” for the next leader.
Well that’s tidy. Leadership races are such a bore. So instead of a Prime Minister who had just lost an election, we’d get a PM who has never been elected — not as PM, not as party leader, not as anything until two years ago.
MEANWHILE: CTV’s Bob Fife is reporting that Harper will prorogue Parliament before next Monday’s confidence vote.
MEANWHILER: PM Iggy? That’s so 11:09 PM…
A spokesman for Bob Rae categorically denied Sunday night that Rae has agreed to step aside to make room for Ignatieff and said that Dion was not even at the meeting where the purported deal was said to have been hatched.
Also Sunday night, there were media reports which said that the Liberals and NDP had agreed on sharing cabinet seats, although there were conflicting reports on the number of portfolios each party would get.
Conclusion: Nobody knows anything. But the intra-Liberal intrigue is obviously where the fighting is dirtiest…