IGNATIEFF WARNED OFF COALITION CABINET POST
SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER; with a report from Campbell Clark
December 3, 2008
Michael Ignatieff, the front-runner in the race to replace Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion, is being encouraged by supporters to stay out of a Dion-led coalition cabinet.
Mr. Ignatieff's "instinct" is also to stay away from the cabinet, says a source close to the politician, and spend his time concentrating on his leadership bid by selling memberships, rebuilding the party and eventually winning a majority government instead of worrying about this fragile coalition.
The Ignatieff official said Mr. Ignatieff's view not to accept a cabinet position - if one is offered and it likely would be - should not be interpreted as some new-founded concern over the coalition or that he is backing out of the coalition.
Rather, it should be looked at as Mr. Ignatieff's decision to concentrate on party rebuilding and his leadership, the official said.
Mr. Dion was meeting with his officials yesterday to deal with cabinet posts, according to a well-placed source. Mr. Ignatieff is to meet with the leader today.
It appears his leadership rivals, Toronto Centre MP Bob Rae and New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, could be named to the 25-member coalition cabinet - a change in past practice because MPs who ran in the 2006 leadership contest were not allowed to hold opposition critic roles.
There is a belief among some Liberals, however, that if one leadership candidate is in cabinet so should the other two.
Meanwhile, some of the MPs and others supporting Mr. Ignatieff do not want him mixed up in what is increasingly becoming a controversial coalition, as the Tories mount a major campaign condemning the Liberals for cozying up to Quebec separatists.