Liberal Coderre steps down as Quebec lieutenant
Published Monday, September 28, 2009 4:33PM EDT
Quebec is the latest battleground for infighting among the federal Liberal party.
Montreal MP Denis Coderre stepped down as the party's Quebec lieutenant, saying he could no longer fully support his party.
"I came to the conclusion that I no longer have the moral authority to serve as Quebec lieutenant," Coderre said during a news conference in his Montreal North riding.
The rift concerns who gets to choose the Liberal candidate in Outremont.
Former justice minister Martin Cauchon, who left politics in 2004, has signaled his intention to return to Parliament Hill and reclaim the Outremont riding he held for 11 years.
However, Ignatieff announced last Monday that he would appoint businesswoman Nathalie Le Prohon as the Liberal candidate in Outremont.
By the end of the week, Ignatieff had reversed his own decision about Outremont to allow for an open nomination contest in the riding.
Cauchon now faces opposition to his candidacy from Dr. Conlam Amozou, while Le Prohon is apparently reconsidering her decision to run in the riding of Jeanne Leber.
Political analyst Jean Lapierre tells CTV News Le Prohon might not even bother leaving her lucrative Hydro-Quebec post to join a party wrought with infighting.
"It's a mess that Mr. Ignatieff now has on his desk," said Lapierre, who once represented the Outrement riding, and was Quebec lieutenant under Paul Martin.
He echoed Coderre's belief that Toronto-based advisers might have had undue influence on Ignatieff's decision to allow for a contested race in Outremont riding.
"He (Ignatieff) is the one that shook hands with (Nathalie Le Prohon) and then was influenced by his Toronto crowd to change his mind and he didn't even inform his lieutenant or his Quebec team," said Lapierre.
"Pierre Trudeau never would have done something like that ... Paul Martin would never have done this.
"At the end Mr. Ignatieff, who has never been in the trenches, doesn't know what loyalty is all about and I think he's got to learn."
Amozou, who has been signing up new members in Outremont, agrees, saying "we didn't need this conflict for the party."
No Hard Feelings
Michael Ignatieff's office was completely unaware of Coderre's plans and said the Liberal leader had not been in contact with his lieutenant over the weekend.
"The most important thing here is nobody can win power in this country if they can't govern their own party," said CTV Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife. "And Mr. Ignatieff is in a real bind here because polls are falling, he's trying to force an election, and now the party is split. And it's split in an area where Liberals needs to win seats -- in Quebec."
Coderre said he had no hard feelings towards Ignatieff, but pointed the finger at certain Toronto Liberal operatives.
"Don't get me wrong -- I still have confidence in Michael Ignatieff. The reality is that he will have to make some changes around himself and take some decisions."
Coderre said he was also stepping down as the Liberal party's defence critic but would remain in Ottawa as an MP.
Outremont was a onetime Liberal stronghold until New Democrat Thomas Mulcair grabbed the seat in a 2007 by-election upset victory.