EXCLUSIVE: IGGY RETHINKS COALITION
CRACK IN THE COALITION
Finally, a sign of sanity. Better late than never. A first serious sign of leadership from the presumptive leader-in-waiting. Senior Ignatieff insiders are tantalizingly whispering to Bourque that the Toronto MP is having grave doubts about supporting the shocking Dion coalition bid, now labelled by many as the "Separatist Coalition", given the defining support it has from both the BQ's Gilles Duceppe and former PQ Premier Jacques Parizeau. One longtime senior Ignatieff backer, under condition of anonymity, confided that "Michael is in a tenuous situation and he is feeling a lot of heat from caucus colleagues and constituents alike. Frankly, we think we got snookered by Bob Rae on this one". It nets out to this, according to this longtime Liberal and echoed by many other key backroom players: ordinary Liberals across the country, the card-carrying bbq-ing door-knocking envelope-stuffing phone-banking kind who make up the backbone of the party and who would need to be counted on to support his leadership aspirations, are vehemently rejecting the Dion argument that a deal with the separatist Bloc Quebecois is in the best interests of Canada. "Bullshit", said one Liberal power-broker, who was quick to point out Dion is tilting at Liberal history for the sake of a short stint at 24 Sussex. "Dion is nuts", he told Bourque, "I am ashamed he is leading the party of Laurier, Pearson, Trudeau, and Chretien - my God, Chretien, the guy who poured out his federalist heart against Rene Levesque's country-killing forces so long ago - I am ashamed Dion is selling us out." He and the others are right, of course. Add to that a comment from one of Canada's leading media personalities, who told Bourque this evening that "the Liberals can never again say that they are the guardians of National Unity". He has a sobering point, unfortunately. Ignatieff, in turn, would be right to heed the growing chorus of advice from his own braintrust and to distance himself from this embarrassing marriage of expedience fueled by nothing more than the personal egos and ambitions of a relatively few desperate 'inside-the-beltway' political personalities, both elected and otherwise, the 'chip-on-their-shoulders' type who can't see beyond their disdain for Harper. In short, no act of clarity whatsoever ...... UPDATE 1:Meanwhile, former Lib MP & Deputy PM John Manley is also now distancing himself from Dion's unholy alliance, telling a G&M confcall that his inclusion in Dion's wise men sounding board is news to him. "I havent agreed to do anything", he said ...... UPDATE 2: Insiders are telling Bourque late this evening that "at least 15 opposition members are ready to break ranks and, if necessary, sit as independents. This group includes Dryden, Tonks, Bevilacqua (from Grits) and Angus (NDP)". Bourque is also hearing that "at least three Bloc members are considering same course of action and there maybe at least two Tories thinking of going the other way (as independents) - Michael 'Cheech' Chong and backbencher Lee Richardson." Developing ...