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After his rout at the polls, Dion attempted a hare-brained coalition with the unofficial opposition parties, the comparatively socialist New Democrats and the federal representatives of Quebec separatism, who had replaced the Liberals as the principal beneficiary of the large tribal vote from Quebec. Ignatieff had abstained from this insanity and was anointed leader by the party elders. 

He began as the idol of the Canadian national media, which almost unanimously assumed that he could force and win an election at will. He was the Liberal leader and Dion, it was felt, had been aberrant. Ignatieff would restore power to its natural holders. 

But that status was irretrievable; neither Quebec nor the rest of Canada believed a word of it. The separatists had most of the Quebec MPs; Quebec's ability to blackmail Canada had been reduced by its demographic decline and the rise of the far western provinces, wealthy in oil and other natural resources, and by the astute, bilingual Harper, who made tax cuts and economic growth good politics, and brought Canada through the 2008-09 recession with flying colours. 

There had been recurrent reports of Ignatieff undercutting members of his own party. His championship of civil rights was ultimately tainted by his endorsement of oppressive collective rights in Quebec, such as the imposition of unilingual French commercial signs. Ignatieff was trying to pander to Quebec with outworn constitutional and cultural overtures. He held a portentous "thinkers' conference" that advocated more daycare and soft power (a concept that, if it works at all, only does so when the country practising it has a real power alternative).

He "lost no sleep" over the Lebanese dead at Qana, one week, and denounced the events there as an Israeli war crime the next, having previously bought into the piffle about the lack of "proportionality" of Israel's response to the endless rocket attacks against Israeli civilians by Hamas in Gaza. Ignatieff's intelligence is conceded by all, but not his judgment or even his intellectual ethics. 

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Ed Derbyshire
May 29th, 2011
7:05 PM
Stephen Harper manged to straddle the center and the right, while the left decided to support a real left of center party, the NDP, leaving no room for the Liberals. Hopefully Canada will get to keep a two party system. Another point is that Harper, as a Conservative gets to manage the myriad of social programs enacted by the Liberals over the last 40 years. He cannot do away with most of these programs - think Greece, therefore he has to gradually over many years to try to reduce costs with an aging population - a real challenge. The Liberals and NDP fight elections by offering new social programs, whereas Harper's main achievement is that he maintained the status quo in this area

May 29th, 2011
12:05 PM
Sir: "Conrad Black is an author, columnist, and investor. He is the author of Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Champion of Freedom." SHURELY there is more information available on the activities of this learned author.

Robert Bacon
May 26th, 2011
9:05 PM
Sir: You might extend some credit for the end of the Liberal era to Canada's west, where there is little respect for Quebec's histrionics or for the Liberal party's big-business partneships. Population, wealth-creating industry, and national leadership on issues like resource development, are all shifting west - literally abandoning the centralized government that the Liberals rode to power for so long.

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