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article imageWikiLeaks reveals tension in Liberal Party between Ignatieff, Rae

By Andrew Moran     Jun 1, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Michael Ignatieff is gone as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Bob Rae has stepped in to become the interim leader for the next 18 months. New WikiLeaks cables suggest that there was tension between the two prior to the federal election.
Last week, WikiLeaks, the famous whistleblowing website, released a number of diplomatic cables highlighting the straining relationship between Toronto Centre Member of Parliament Bob Rae and then-Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.
In one June 16, 2009 cable titled “Liberals begin to blink?”, an embassy counsellor had a conversation with Rae in which he revealed that many MPs are not behind Ignatieff’s election hints.
Bob Rae  leader of the Liberal Party
Bob Rae, leader of the Liberal Party
“[Rae] admitted that, behind closed doors, the caucus had considerable reluctance to face the voters over the summer, but had been disinclined to try to overrule the relatively new leader,” the cable said. “He claimed that Ignatieff had ‘made up his own mind’ on this brinkmanship approach without much, or perhaps any, internal consultations.”
In another cable titled “Ambassador meets with Liberal Party leadership,” Ignatieff and Rae attended a lunch with U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson. It was described that the “onetime friends” were “clearly tense” throughout the entire lunch.
The former Ontario New Democratic Party Premier arrived to the meeting late and “then immediately dominating the conversation.” Meanwhile, Ignatieff “sat back almost meekly” during the lunch.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaking to a supporter.
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff speaking to a supporter.
“Rae was by far the more forceful and eloquent of the two and showed little deference to his party chief, without at any time displaying any rudeness or personal animosity. He came across as better read and more substantive than Ignatieff, who stuck mostly to pleasantries and generalities,” the cable read.
Ignatieff and Rae both questioned U.S. policies and iterated Canada’s domestic issues. The former Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP “unfavourably” compared U.S.-Canada border issues to those within the European Union. He also asked what the U.S. government was doing to “reverse" its “Buy America” measures.
Rae inquired about the case of Guantanamo Bay Canadian detainee Omar Khadr. “He expressed special concern that the U.S. would announce its decision on how to proceed with this case before the Canadian Supreme Court heard arguments in the government's appeal of a Federal Court decision ordering the government to seek Khadr's repatriation.”
Toronto mayoral candidate  Rocco Rossi.
Toronto mayoral candidate, Rocco Rossi.
When asked about about a possible federal election, Ignatieff admitted that Canadians did not want an election at that time (summer/fall 2009), but noted that the Liberal Party has “lost confidence” in Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government.
He added that the New Democratic Party has “chosen to prop it up” and could not “predict how long this party would be willing to do so.”
Overall, the U.S. Embassy noted that the Liberal caucus became instantly disappointed in Ignatieff because of his disinterest in the advice of his colleagues. During a meeting in October 2009, former mayoral candidate and former Liberal insider, Rocco Rossi, said Ignatieff didn’t listen to advisers and just took the suggestions of his wife, Zsuzsanna Zsohar.
More about Wikileaks, liberal party of canada, Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Julian Assange
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