Ignatieff’s Outremont

Normally, I resist the superficial analogies, each situation unique that lazy overlap rarely informative. However, when I consider the stakes, it might be fair to categorize the upcoming Vaughan bi-election as Ignatieff’s Outremont. We now know who will take on Julian Fantino, the Liberals have chosen Tony Genco. Genco is a local businessman, that looks to have strong local ties, the battle is now joined.

Fantino is a complete wild card, nobody really knows how effective he will be at campaigning, articulating the issues, he could well prove to be a gaffe prone, divisive disaster. That said, Fantino also brings incredible name recognition and it is reasonable to assume he has a fighting chance in this supposed Liberal bastion.

I found the following informative:

At their closed-door caucus meeting Wednesday, the Liberal Leader told MPs and Senators that the expected and soon-to-be announced by-election in Vaughan is “ours to win.” A caucus source also said Mr. Ignatieff warned caucus not to let the Conservative star candidate “walk on water.” 

Everyone’s support is needed for this, he said, according to the source. It seems that Mr. Ignatieff is rather anxious about this by-election – and he has good reason to be. Mr. Fantino, the former Toronto police chief and recently retired Ontario Provincial Police commissioner, is well-known in the riding and instantly recognizable; he also plays well to the Conservatives’ law-and-order agenda.

First off, I like that Ignatieff is "anxious" because it conveys he appreciates the potential significance of this one bi-election. A Liberal loss on the perimeter of their fortress, one can imagine the headlines and the long term damage. The possibility of a Rob Ford win in Toronto would only add to the new narrative, conservatives on the march in the Liberals backyard. The fallout would be every bit as disastrous as Outremont was to Dion, you could argue he never recovered, perception wise, from that defeat. 

The Liberals were VERY slow off the mark in Outremont, which cost us dearly in final analysis. I assume lesson learned, which may explain Ignatieff’s sense of urgency. The Conservatives will bring volunteers from across the province, the entire machine will focus on taking this riding, because they also understand the potential impact. This riding has seen Liberal support eroding, plug in a "star" candidate, plus the quirky dynamic of a bi-election, and it’s ripe for the taking.

This bi-election will be dogfight, and I’m glad Ignatieff is taking a "all hands on deck" approach. Should the Liberals loss this seat, all the apparent unity on the leadership front will immediately evaporate; Ignatieff will be questioned and undermined, of that I have no doubt. Seems rather silly in one sense, but no matter, a loss in Vaughan translates to a heap of trouble that won’t quickly disappear. To suggest otherwise, more wishful thinking rather than a reading of historical precedent.

Liberals should be worried, and this worry will serve to motivate. We should proceed as though the underdog… 

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