The Canadian Liberal party's polling numbers have plummeted like prices for Christmas tree decorations on Boxing Day. If the recent polls are correct, then the Liberals and New Democratic Party will both lose seats were an election to be held soon and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives may even get its elusive majority government.
The Liberal party's swing to the left may have acquired them some votes from voters inclined to the NDP and Green parties, but that same move has driven even more centrist Liberal voters into the arms of the Tories.
Despite their best efforts to hammer the Conservatives with scandals like that of Bev Oda's mysterious signature on the CIDA document denying funding to the anti-Israel group, KAIROS and the 5-year old "In and Out" election financing scandal, neither has had any resonance with the public. In fact, Harper's numbers have ascended in the midst of the campaigns to discredit his party.
This phenomenon can be explained by the one Conservative asset that the opposition parties cannot surmount; incompetent, uninspiring leadership from the Liberals, Greens and NDP.
Liberal Foreign Affairs critic and Michael Ignatieff's former (and present?) main rival for party leadership, Bob Rae, seems to be pushing full on for a spring election.
In what sounds like an election push, Rae recently wrote on facebook, "The issue is not Kenney or Oda or Ouimet or Elections Canada - it is now democracy itself, and the simple idea that the rule of law means limits and respect that apply to everyone, even the Harperites. This is the issue of our day and our time - nothing more, nothing less."
Do the Liberals seriously think that if they shout that loudly enough, they can overcome the lack of confidence Canadians have shown in Liberal leadership as exhibited by Ignatieff for the last 3 years and Stephane Dion in the 2 years prior to that?
The answer is, "probably not."
What seems likely at this point is that senior Liberals like Rae realize that as long as Ignatieff helms the party, they're going to be shut out of power. So the sooner they replace him, the sooner they have a shot at winning. For a party like the Liberals, for whom power is frequently the overriding principle, nothing spurs a leadership change faster than an election loss.
Senior Liberals wanting to rebuild the brand have figured out that the fastest way to accomplish that is getting the inevitable Ignatieff loss out of the way quickly, so they can pursue their own ambitions now rather than later.