Did I ever mention this f****** guy Alf Apps has to resign? What, fellow Liberals, is the point of us ever making up rules, regulations, constitutions if this guy just keeps making his own? Can someone please tell me?
Just so I understand Mr. Apps. We keep the leader that doesn't have a seat in the House and have him resign in December? So, no leader in the House for six months? Am I getting this right?
Liberals balk at immediate leadership vote; Rae touted as interim leader
By Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Shell-shocked federal Liberals overwhelmingly don't want to be plunged into an immediate leadership contest.
So machinations are afoot to determine whether the party's constitution actually allows Liberals to avoid a fullblown leadership contest within the next six months and, if so, who should be chosen interim leader.
Montreal MP Denis Coderre set the cat among the pigeons Wednesday, saying Toronto MP Bob Rae should be named interim leader for two years.
"Then we call a leadership convention. Let's take our time. No rush," he tweeted.
In a subsequent interview, Coderre said the party needs to conduct a thorough post-mortem of what went wrong in Monday's election, which saw the once-mighty Liberals reduced to a rump of 34 seats and overtaken by the ascendent NDP as official Opposition. After that, he said the party needs to set to work rebuilding its finances, structure and policies before choosing a successor to Michael Ignatieff.
Ignatieff lost his own seat in Monday's bloodbath and has since announced his intention to step aside as leader at a time deemed best by the party.
"I'm the son of a carpenter," said Coderre. "You don't start to build a house with the roof. You start with the foundation."
There appears to be little disagreement on that score.
"The idea of taking our time with the leadership I think is a great idea," said Montreal MP Justin Trudeau, who is not ruling out a leadership bid of his own.
"I think the Liberal party has gotten in trouble in the past by expecting that picking the right leader is going to fix all of our troubles. Obviously, it hasn't."
Liberal party president Alf Apps said he's consulted with the heads of the party's provincial and territorial wings and its various commissions and the view is unanimous that the party should proceed with a previously scheduled biennial policy convention in December and hold a leadership contest sometime after that. He's heard the same view from hundreds of Liberals who've phoned or emailed him.
"Literally, I would say it's running like 100 per cent to zero" against a leadership contest this year, Apps said.
Trouble is, the party's constitution specifies that a leadership vote must be held within six months of the leader publicly stating his intention to resign.
It was widely reported Tuesday that Ignatieff had resigned. But in fact, his statement was carefully worded in a bid to avoid immediately triggering the six-month countdown. He said he "will not be remaining" as leader but will consult with party officials to determine "the best timing for a departure so we can arrange a succession in due time."
Apps said nothing in Ignatieff's statement "has led us to triggering anything yet" in terms of the succession process.
The constitution presents another problem: in the continuing absence of a clear statement that he intends to resign, Ignatieff would have to face a confidence vote by all party members, coinciding with the December convention.
However, Apps suggested there could be a way to avoid that potential humiliation. Ignatieff could wait to clearly signal his intention to resign until shortly before the convention, thus pre-empting the confidence vote. And convention delegates could then change the constitution to delay a leadership vote beyond next spring, if more time was deemed warranted.
In any event, Liberal MPs appear to be counting on the party to find some way to put off a leadership vote for as much as two years. Who to choose as interim leader will be one of the primary topics discussed next week at a meeting of Liberal MPs, defeated candidates and senators.
Coderre said he believes Rae, a former Ontario premier, would be best because he's experienced and a good performer in the House of Commons and in scrums. Other Liberals have mused about Saskatchewan MP Ralph Goodale but Coderre said the interim leader needs to be bilingual, which Rae is and Goodale is not.
Rae, a leadership candidate in 2006 who's thinking about taking another run this time, declined to comment Wednesday on the idea of interim leader.
But the key issue will be whether the interim leader is precluded from running for the permanent leadership. The party's constitution is silent on that matter and Coderre said caucus members will have to sort it out.
Liberals close to Rae believe there's no way he'd agree to do the heavy lifting for two years and then simply bow out. They point out that the constitution's silence creates a loophole which the party allowed Ignatieff to exploit in 2008.
Rae appears to have considerable caucus support but Apps pointed out that the party's national board of directors must approve caucus's choice of interim leader. And he said the board "will want to ensure that the appointment of interim leader doesn't confer any unfair advantage" in the subsequent leadership contest.
"I don't think anyone believes that a candidate for interim leader ... could also be someone who's contesting the permanent leadership of the party."
Ignatieff did precisely that in 2008 but Apps said that was an unusual situation, in which Liberals were panicked by the possibility of a snap election into bending the rules. With Stephen Harper now firmly in control of a majority government, there's no similar pressure.