Michael Ignatieff Maverick Watch

There seems to be some gnashing of teeth over Michael Ignatieff’s apparent efforts to enforce discipline on his Liberal side.

But then he would seem to be proving a rather tolerant authoritarian, wouldn’t he? What with two rookies MPs now freely talking of voting in contradiction of the leader’s stated position, and Glen Pearson still possessing access to WordPress.

From Pearson’s latest post.

I’ll be honest. The greater part of me didn’t like the budget and wanted to vote against it. There wasn’t one particular aspect, just the overall sense that we were throwing money all around but not really connecting the dots that would lead to long-term growth. There was the need to balance what I was hearing from my local friends in the unions and anti-poverty groups with that of the London Chamber of Commerce and the City Council – both of which favored the budget…

Then he challenged us to think of a larger dynamic, one that eventually won the day. A coalition, he offered, would be the final nail in the coffin for any hopes of national unity. The West would want out.  Quebec would be an unknown factor. And Canadians as a whole, excepting those constituency groups that would have been served by the coalition, would be ushered into an era of great national uncertainty again. The markets, so requiring of stability right now, would respond with alarm and alacrity.  His arguments continued for a time yet.

I realized in an instant that he was correct, and powerfully so. We all recalled what the threat of coalition did to the emotional state of the country back in December – remarkable division and alarm. “I didn’t sign on to this job to split this country,” he stressed. “We are the party of national unity and we break our vow with Canadians as Liberals if we ruin our cohesiveness by grasping at immediate power.”  This was totally absent in the rationale of Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe – and, sad to say, in me.

Of course, the only remarkable thing about the above is that it seems even remotely noteworthy. Which more generally explains why “MP expresses personal opinion” is still terribly exciting news in Ottawa.