Come to think of it, Michael Ignatieff has been talking about rebuilding parties for quite some time.
Back in the spring of 2005, before he had jumped from Harvard home to Canada and politics, Ignateiff gave a guest lecture at Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. Here’s a bit of what he said then:
“The raison d’etre of our parties is to create national coalitions… The current capacity of all of our federal parties to do this has been weakened for 20 years. The reasons why are complex: failure of leadership, indifference to ideas, a hollowing out of the parties themselves, their slow decline from vehicles of policy and coalition-forming to professional election machines.”
I wonder how this diagnosis fits this moment. Unevenly across the various parties, I would think. The Tories look like a professional election machine. Liberal coalition-building capacity certainly looks weakened. I’m not sure if it’s fair to say any party in this race was guilty of indifference to ideas.
In any case, the moment seems right for Liberals to ponder the sort of party they want.