It may be a desperate times yet the Liberal Party of Canada (LPC) does have the luxury of bringing out a previous Prime Minister. Two of them. I think it can only help.
Jean Chretien, lets call him JC, is still popular, he can remind people of the good days. Its easy to get excited with JC, he is quick, witty and sharp.
Paul Martin is also seen as competent. The deficit slayer. Not so smart as a Prime Minister but as Finance Minister he has peoples' respect. It may be too late however.
Why is this needed? The LPC have lost Quebec, they are struggling to hold what they have in Atlantic Canada and have pretty much all but pulled the dead and dying roots out of the ground in the west.
Toronto and the GTA is the LPC. It the only region left that they can say is ours. Lose the GTA and you give Harper a Majority. Lose the GTA and your party will finish behind the Bloc in the next election.
We are seeing the unraveling of the LPC. They likely will finish 30 to 40 seats better than the NDP this time, but any growth by the NDP over 40 seats and a NDP percentages in the 20+ area in Quebec spell doom for the LPC in next election.
I suspect a big part of the problem goes back to the Dion coalition plan and a very effective anti-coalition campaign by Harper. Its my view many of the GTA LPC MPs liked the coalition plan. They could actually be liberal in their approach to governing. I loved the idea. It was a recipe for success. A chance to bring a progressive approach to governing in Canada.
It went off the rails when the LPC backrooms got cold feet. In fact I believe these behind the scenes unelected folks were opposed to the coalition from the start. The LPC backroom boys are still thinking of the days when the Royal Bank and HBC wrote them cheques for $100,000 or more every year. Those days are gone due to JC's legislation and the RBC and HBC are far more comfy with Harper.
The coalition would have been a gamble but one that was worth trying. The LPC would be the government. They would have two years to show they can govern and I expect they would have done a far better job for Canada than the Harper gang did.
That's all history now and full of what-ifs. Those same backroom boys went to work arranging the coronation of Ignatieff. They forced Dion out, they wanted Iggy and had to smackdown Bob Rae who likely would have won the leadership in a vote of LPC members.
So not only had Ignatieff not earned the leadership, he was seen by the public to have not earned it. Ignatieff was behind from the beginning. And it just got worse. The Harper Conservatives managed to paint a view of Ignatieff as visiting professor. Add all those votes or missing votes that amounted to the same thing, for Harper's budgets, showed a weak and desperate party, trying to wait out the storm.
The Liberals dug a deep hole waiting for Harper to screw up. Harper has screwed up, yet it hasn't translated into LPC support. That being the case, the LPC fell back to their tried and true practice. Adopt as many NDP platform ideas without seeming too left, run the campaign from the left.
This time the campaign from the left has not worked. The NDP and Jack Layton have resonated with Canadians. He has had fewer snickers from media when he says he is running to be the Prime Minister. Layton has connected with voters. He is the most trusted leader, he is seen as the one best able to address healthcare, which is fast becoming the number one issue. That all spells bad news for Ignatieff and the LPC.
Its comes down to this. Keep the left LPC voter from switching NDP. It may be too late. The LPC should be able to hold onto second place but its no longer certain.
If I were the LPC I would spend a good deal of money getting 10,000 people into an arena in Mississauga to hear JC's call to action. And I would do it now!