Oh hello, the grown-ups have showed up at last

The news in John Manley’s piece in the Globe and Mail today is not that he’s calling for Stephane Dion’s resignation — everybody’s onside for that — but that he has come out firmly and publicly against the coalition — the first leading Liberal to do so. To wit:

As a Liberal, I believe the first step for my party is to replace Stéphane Dion as leader with someone whose first job is to rebuild the Liberal Party, rather than leading a coalition with the NDP.

There’s more in that vein (“the notion that the public would accept Stephane Dion as prime minister, after having resoundingly rejected that possibility a few weeks earlier, was delusional at best “), but it is best seen not as an attack on Dion, but as a shot across the bows of the current declared candidates to replace him, all of whom have publicly endorsed this “delusional” notion — and continue to do so.

That would obviously include Bob Rae — who is gearing up to campaign across the country in favour of the coalition — but also Michael Ignatieff, whose opposition to the deal has been confined to leaks from subordinates to the effect that he was the last person to sign the caucus letter calling on the Governor General to ask the coalition to form a government.

Manley’s intervention has sent shock waves through the party, where there is deep disatisfaction with the deal. If Ignatieff, the acknowledged frontrunner, does not forcefully dissociate himself from the coalition, a Draft Manley movement is inevitable. In fact, given the damage the coalition has already done to the party — 20% in the polls, anyone? — one may be under way as we speak.

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