Today is a very good day for the Liberal Party of Canada. They have finally chosen the leader that they should have chosen after January 23, 2006. I was one step removed many years ago when I said that Ignatieff would be the next leader of the Party. For some reason known only to Liberals, they opted to go with Stephane Dion first. Many thought they'd hit rock bottom after the 2006 election. They thought they'd lost all the could, but then they lost a whole lot more. Today is Day One of the official rebuilding project.
The first order of business must be to ensure that the party faithful are assuaged and assured that the process by which Ignatieff became leader is legitimate. There is a lot of talk, from myself included, that the manner and form in which Ignatieff has taken the reins of the Party is not ideal, is not democratic, and is not transparent. I hope and believe that while happy to be the leader, Ignatieff truly did not want it to happen under these circumstances. And had it not been for the fever pitch that gripped Ottawa for the past three weeks, he probably would not have become leader until the scheduled convention in May. But Dion's final act of utter ineptitude has resulted in his immediate ouster and replacement. Some will liken this takeover in the same ugly fashion as the so-called "coup-alition" effort. That is something he'll have to contend with.
Another is the lingering and stale argument that Ignatieff's simply an egghead who has been out of the country for 25 years and is thus out of touch with what Canadians want. This is ludicrous. Anybody who has read anything written by Ignatieff is very aware that he's keenly in touch with what the Canadian public thinks about the major issues of our time, from human rights to good governance. He is a very smart man, and the string of anti-intellectualism coming out of the Conservative camp is indicative of their fear of Ignatieff's intelligence.
It is going to be a long haul for the Liberals to get back to government. As Kinsella often says, government defeat themselves. The Tories may be on their way to doing that, but they're not there yet; moreover, the Liberals have yet to sufficiently recover from their own terrible defeats in the past few years and demonstrate that they are indeed capable of handling the reins of power once again. But now that the Liberals have taken the first step by electing the right leader, that process may begin in earnest.