With yesterday's debacle in the House of Commons, it is likely that Ignatieff's leadership will continue to be seen as weak and directionless by the Canadian public. Unless the Liberals send a message of change (i.e. a new leader), the very best they can hope for is a continuing series of minority governments and the worst they might see would be banishment to the political wilderness for years to come.
Why is it that every time Michael Ignatieff builds up a bit of political capital with the Canadian public, he tosses it to the wind? It's like he just doesn't understand the political process.
The Liberals polling numbers were looking good in mid-January ago when, likely due to the electorate's dissatisfaction with Harper's prorogation of Parliament, they were essentially tied with the Conservatives among decided voters. By the latest poll undertaken in mid-March, the Ekos poll shows that the Liberals were trailing the Conservatives by 5.6 percentage points with the Liberals getting approval from only 27.7% of decided voters.
In late October, Peter Donolo was brought on as Ignatieff's new chief of staff. Donolo was brought on board because he is a savvy political veteran having served as director of communications for Jean Cretien until 1999. The Liberal party hoped that Donolo's input would help "pretty up" Ignatieff's image with the Canadian public and help raise their support among Canadian voters. For a time (a very short time) that appeared to work.
Yesterday in the House of Commons, the Liberals raised a motion that was attempting to drive a wedge into the Harper government's maternal health initiative. The Liberals had hoped to divide and conquer the Conservative caucus. Most unfortunately for the Liberals, three of their own members voted against their own motion and other Liberals were absent from the House. This resulted in the Liberals defeating their own motion. Rather than driving a wedge into the Conservatives, the Liberals now look like buffoons. While Ignatieff has taken the blame for this debacle, he has done nothing to help his growing reputation as a leader that is out of touch with the machinations of Parliament and his own party.
I suggest that the Liberals need a new leader....now.