Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc are seeking leadership of the Liberal party. That leadership race is now on and the biggest issue before the country is whether or not replacing the Harper government with a coalition of its opponents is in the best interests of the country. If a coalition is to happen, one of these three men would become prime minister next May.
Earlier this week, they stood side-by-side-by-side before the cameras and pledged their support for Stéphane Dion as both leader of the Liberal party and prime minister in a Liberal-NDP government. Whatever the Governor General decides Thursday morning, that coalition now hangs in the balance. If she agrees to prorogue Parliament, the next seven weeks will double as a Liberal leadership race and a mini-election campaign. And if Messrs Ignatieff, Rae and LeBlanc stand behind this coalition, they must be front and centre.
For sure, the coalition will live or die on the abilities of Stéphane Dion, Jack Layton and, yes, Gilles Duceppe, to legitimize it. But whereas Mr. Dion would be prime minister for a matter of months, one of Ignatieff, Rae or LeBlanc would, if the agreement holds, lead the country for at least a year. If they were reluctant to overshadow their party leader before, they must now find a way to stand, if not in front of him, at least prominently beside him.
In the days and weeks that follow we will be closely following their words and deeds. Given the responsibilities that may soon be theirs and the stakes which could not be higher, they deserve as much scrutiny as any of the individuals who are now debating no less than the fate of this nation.