Sunday, December 06, 2009

Regal Constellation Redux?

Angelo Persichilli is shocked - shocked - that gambling is going on in this casino, and that some Liberal MPs are grumpy. Here are the first and last paragraphs of today's column:

Liberal MPs plot early retirement for Ignatieff

Last year at this time, the Liberals were trying to get rid of Stéphane Dion and put themselves in the hands of their saviour, Michael Ignatieff. After 12 months, they believe that Bob Rae, the former NDP premier of Ontario now turned Liberal, is the new saviour.


This was not an isolated meeting between a few MPs – it's the dominant theme of discussion among almost all Liberal MPs uncertain about their future.

I wouldn't be surprised if Ignatieff were to reconsider his political future and go back to his beloved academic world before the end of the year.

Despite the ominous headline and sensationalistic prose that make it sound like this was straight out of The Da Vinci Code, Persichilli's second-hand (or third-hand? or fourth-hand?) account of this "plot" involves the following juicy tid-bits:

1. Some MPs think their responsibilities should be assigned differently.

2. This band of conspirators plans to raise the issue with Peter Donollo. (Note to conspirators: if this is a plot to remove Ignatieff, don't tell his Chief of Staff!)

3. Bob Rae "said he was not interested in a coup d'état".

Yes, yes, there are a few suggestions that MPs doubt Ignatieff and that Justin Trudeau wants to be leader (believe me, I was as shocked to find this out as you were), but even if this were a verbatim retelling of a conversation, it's one of the least scandalous meetings between disgruntled Liberals MPs in the long history of the party. Sure, the "conspirators" sound a bit silly when you read that four MPs from Toronto are pissed Ralph Goodale hasn't delivered Saskatchewan to the party, but this is hardly high treason. Which makes sense, because high treason usually doesn't occur in the lounge of the Chateau Laurier within earshot of MPs and journalists.

And that's if you take it as a verbatim account of their conversation. Since none of the four MPs at the table come across looking very good in this story, I think we can safely assume none of them leaked it. Glen Pearson has quickly given his recount of the evening (seconded by Carolyn Bennett), and Bob Rae has posted this letter to the editor on his facebook page:

Letter to the Editor,

Angelo Persichilli's column in the Sunday Star is full of fiction and false statements. At no time did he or anyone from the Star call me to check any of the non-existent "facts" in the article.

The premise of the article - that I "called" a meeting (to be held at the bar of the Chateau Laurier) is completely untrue. After a dinner honouring Senator Grafstein I went to the hotel and saw two colleagues in the bar, who promptly waved me over. We were joined later by another colleague.

The "conversation" described in Mr Persichilli's article is fictional. It never happened in any way described by him, and the views he ascribes to me and others are false.

Michael Ignatieff -the leader of my caucus and party - has my full support. Since my return to active politics in 2006 I have done everything I can to be an effective member of the Liberal team, and I shall continue to do so.

Why the Star would print such an unfounded piece of writing is beyond me, but I have no choice but to respond.

So what we have is the Star reprinting a conversation based on bits and pieces overheard by...well, we don't know who. They made no effort to fact-check or get comment from the MPs involved.

No one comes across looking very good in this, but I tend to think Persichilli and the Star don't come out of this looking any better than the MPs in the story.


  • Persichilli never said that Rae set up the meeting. Both Rae and Pearson have now alleged that that is what Persichilli wrote. Read it again Bob.

    Rae has been continuously forced to insist that he supports his leader.This is not new.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:49 p.m.  

  • Why is everyone taking Persichilli's word? Just take a look at the archives of Persichilli's writings. His sole ambition is to degrade, attack and try to hurt Liberals.

    Other journalists have said MP's grumble but it doesn't mean much.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:53 p.m.  

  • Isn't Donollo a Desmarais/Chretien/Rae plant, and Rae's chief-of-staff-in-waiting-and-in-undermining-the-current leader?

    1) Insert of your guys Kinsella in the war room. Check
    2) Kneecap Iggy's Quebec lieutenant. Check
    3) Replace iggy's chief-of-staff with one of your guys. Check

    The Rae coup d'etat is proceeding nicely a-pace..

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 1:59 p.m.  

  • The denials from Rae et al are customary. The core of this story -- that caucus MPs are unhappy with Iggy -- was more or less confirmed by Travers and Oliver and Martin on QP today.

    The facts are this: with a recession and a cover-up story dominating the news, the Libs are stuck in the mid-20s. It would actually be a surprise if there wasn't an attempted putsch from within.

    But there is no real mechanism for replacing Iggy short of his resignation. How do you dump a leader who hasn't had a chance to prove his mettle at an election?

    Will Iggy resign? Probably not. But if say Obama were to offer him a senior White House post, then who knows what he'll do.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 p.m.  

  • It's no secret there are Liberal MPs who want Iggy out.

    But Perschilli's story is still ridiculous and hack journalism. Even Jane Taber wouldn't print garbage like that.

    By Anonymous Ottawa, at 2:39 p.m.  

  • Susan Delacout says the Persichilli did not think his was leaked? She knows more but not saying.

    By Anonymous Cari, at 3:07 p.m.  

  • I can't imagine anyone sitting at the table would leak it. It seems likely someone at a nearby table overheard it and then called Persichilli.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:30 p.m.  

  • Wasn't Ruby Dhalla's Iggy's campaign chair his past two leadership campaigns?

    By Anonymous Deb, at 4:22 p.m.  

  • Ruby told Maurizio( they are quite close :) , who is Persichilli's main contact. Maurizio loves to stir the pot.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:30 p.m.  

  • If these clowns have an iggy problem, i've got a better idea.

    Why not actually propose *an idea*?

    After all, the chief complaint about iggy is the surprising lack of ideas, not the fact that he's not a nice guy. If these clowns can do so much better, then proving it by providing just one new idea for the PARTY to use might be a good start.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:50 p.m.  

  • I have a suggestion for Ignatieff - win a leadership convention. The urgency that permeated Canadian politics a year ago is gone - Harper appears to have a stable lead in the polls. Moreover, the financial problems that made avoiding a convention a good idea last year appear to have been minimized.

    Without an imminent election, leading the Liberals is like herding cats. The Star story may be garbage, but the fact that it got a front page story in a national newspaper implies that it is believable enough.

    I realize that holding a leadership convention when you are already leader hasn't worked out in the past - both Joe Clark and Stockwell Day were defeated that way. However, both parties recovered from internal divisions quickly, and went on to win a large number of additional seats in the ensuing election. The Liberals in 1988 might have also won, had they replaced Turner with Chretien.

    Either a leadership race strengthens Ignatieff's leadership, or produces a leader better able to hold the party together. That is not a bad outcome for the Liberals.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 7:18 p.m.  

  • As per usual I agree with Hoosier2Hoser... I dont know how feasible the idea is or likely it is to happen, but the LPC made a serious mistake acclaiming M>I> without a real membership vote.

    I do find the article silly; but then, I think Ignatieff is sort of silly too.....

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 7:53 p.m.  


    it seems that pearson has posted a follow-up article on angelo's article sounds like someone is being dragged to the carpet

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:59 p.m.  

  • For the love is a news flash: Bob Rae will never lead the Liberal Party. He is an amazing politician but simply too left-wing for a broad-based, centrist party. I think Iggy will become the next PM. However, when it comes time to choose the next leader,I cannot see Rae winning over those Dion supporters who had Iggy as their second choice. It will probably be an outsider.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:45 a.m.  

  • I do hope you pick Rae, after all do you have "Rae Days" in Ontario where he drove the economy into the ground and is disliked by many.

    Iggy was not elected leader and grassroots were left out of the picture altogether. Apparently the Liberals have the money (if you believe the sources) why not have a proper leadership convention and perhaps get some policies to present to Canadian voters.

    By Blogger Not Con or Lib, at 8:42 a.m.  

  • I want to have michael Ignatieff's baby. He is a hero to Canada. He is brave and provocative.

    Mr. Harper your time is up!

    Mess with me, Mr. Harper, and I'll mess with you until I am done!

    Those quotes bring tears to my eyes and wobbles to my knees. Canada is lucky to have him!

    By Anonymous Secret Crush on Ignatieff, at 2:47 p.m.  

  • Even Jane Taber wouldn't print garbage like that.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:44 p.m.  

  • I like Hoser's idea. Ignatieff never won a leadership vote. Let's see him do it now.

    By Anonymous Deb, at 5:00 p.m.  

  • It is nice to see a blog with relevant political discussion actually taking place. I'm no Liberal (any more) but kudos to you Calgary Grit for the way you are running this place. Other sites seem to avoid the issues of the day and actively discourage dissenting opinions rather than present good arguments. IMO this has made certain places once interesting now irrelevant.

    No other opinions from me for the time being, but I think I'll visit more often. Keep up the good work on your site, its a breath of fresh air.

    By Anonymous Dave in Maple Ridge, at 4:23 a.m.  

  • I agree with Dave.

    Kudos Calgary Grit for making a spot where we can gather and watch the Harper death march.

    By Anonymous Intellectuals for Ignatieff, at 10:46 a.m.  

  • There was no meeting at Pearson airport.

    By Blogger Paul, at 5:42 p.m.  

  • Thanks Dave,

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:47 a.m.  

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