Some commentators have mused on the prospects of some sort of Liberal-NDP-Green coalition should the Tories be re-elected. Mr. Ignatieff, campaigning in Whitby, Ont., on Friday, strongly rejected such a possibility.Now, the obvious message is that the Libs' #2 figure (who's as likely as anybody to be the leader by this time next year) is going out of his way to distance the party from any defence of anything which might be construed as left-wing. Which likely makes for a far more accurate statement of the Libs' position than most of what their apologists would try to claim - but also sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the efforts of both Barack Obama in the U.S. and Jack Layton in Canada to present a strong contrast between progressive and conservative principles.
“I don't think the Liberal Party of Canada is a party of the left. There's no coalition to be done,” he said. “We're a party of the centre and people vote for us because we're in the centre.
That said, the undertone of Ignatieff's message may be even more significant. Rather than presenting the Libs as remotely interested in uniting left-wing opposition to Harper, he's apparently bound and determined to keep his party firmly on the fence. Which means that actual progressives can count once again on getting nowhere trying to advance small-l liberal positions through the large-L Libs - even in the wake of further pushes to the right through another Harper government.
Of course, if that's the kind of treatment the left can expect again within the Libs following the election, there's ever less reason to pretend the Libs can be considered a viable alternative to Harper now. And the sooner that leads to an actual united left backing the New Democrats, the sooner we can begin to repair the damage Harper has already done.