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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