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02 2011

What Now, Liberals?

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

It's a cliche but it's true: we truly find out what we're made of in moments of crisis or disaster, rather than in triumph.   In which case, Michael Ignatieff can look in the mirror with pride today. Yes, he led the Liberals to their worst election showing ever. But he's gaining kudos all over for the grace and dignity he's shown in defeat.   This morning, at a news conference, Ignatieff announced the only decision he had left as Liberal leader --- to vacate the job. He lost the election. He lost his seat. He had no options left.         "Canadians don't like a loser," Ignatieff said. "But they like someone who complains about losing even less." And so he didn't.     But he did point out that he was on the receiving end of perhaps the most vicious, personal attack ads in Canadian history, courtesy of the Conservatives.       The Conservatives framed Ignatieff as an effete, intellectual snob who was "just visiting" after spending three decades abroad. The outgoing leader said when people met him, they constantly commented on how he was nothing like the way he was portrayed in the ads.     "I just didn't get to meet enough people," he joked. "If I had, the outcome might have been different."       What now for Ignatieff? Well, he says he'd like to teach young people again ("Haven't had any offers yet, but no reasonable offer declined!" he said.).   He showed little interest in a merger with the NDP, insisting there was a place in Canadian politics for a party of the middle.   And, in another example of the class he's shown in defeat, Ignatieff left reporters with this:   "I just hope that some young Canadian out there looks at me and says, 'He didn't get there, but maybe I can.'" It was a strong appeal to the next generation to rebuild the Grits.   Former Liberal MPs and defeated candidates will meet in Ottawa next Wednesday, probably to select Sasksatchewan's Ralph Goodale as the new interim leader for the party.   And then the decade-long job of rebuilding this once great party, now almost an afterthought in Canadian politics, begins.    

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