Ignatieff downplays Coderre's dramatic exit
Published Wednesday, September 30, 2009 10:33AM EDT
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff insists his party remains well-positioned to fight an election in Quebec, despite the resignations of six top Liberals including former Quebec lieutenant Denis Coderre.
Ignatieff, in Laval for a party fundraiser on Tuesday evening, insisted the Liberals are in good shape despite Coderre's dramatic exit as his point man in the province.
"The party is not in a mess when you've tripled the membership in the party, when you've taken it from deficit into competitive financing with other parties, when you've nominated candidates in . . .68 of 75 (Quebec) ridings,'' he said.
"In some ways, I should be lucky to have the problems I've got.''
Coderre resigned as Quebec lieutenant after Ignatieff overruled his decision on who should carry the party banner in the prized Montreal riding of Outremont.
Five members of the Quebec organization resigned in solidarity with Coderre this week but Quebec Liberals downplayed any notion the party is divided. They also chastised Coderre for stomping out of his job.
Among Coderre's critics was former astronaut Marc Garneau, who is chairman of the federal Liberals' Quebec caucus.
"Mr Coderre got carried away," Garneau told reporters at the fundraiser.
"His ego got the better of him."
Garneau said Coderre's angry exit left an exaggerated impression of a party that is "tearing itself apart.''
And he says that's "simply not true.''
Cauchon's comeback a key
Coderre wanted to appoint businesswoman Nathalie Le Prohon but the move would have blocked the political comeback of former cabinet minister and potential future leadership rival Martin Cauchon.
Ignatieff initially backed Coderre but last week relented and agreed to allow Cauchon to run for the Outremont nomination.
Garneau mitigated his harsh words for Coderre by saying his colleague might have been feeling stress from working for the party his entire adult life.
"He's worked very, very hard. He hasn't seen his family for the last six months because he took it very seriously to build the party.
"Unfortunately he let himself go yesterday and he said things he should not have said."
At least one Liberal MP says she doesn't see even the need for a Quebec lieutenant.
Laval-des-Iles MP Raymonde Folco says the lieutenant job is unnecessary even though the Conservatives, NDP and until recently her own party employed a person for the job.