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Liberal insiders say party needs reflection

"I expect if a messiah were in fact to come to Earth today, he would have better things to do with his time than to lead the Liberal Party of Canada," says Akaash Maharaj.


 

Mike De Souza
04 May 2011

The Montreal Gazette
 

MONTREAL - Liberal insiders say their party must stop looking for a "messiah" and instead, start a soul-searching exercise to rebuild its own identity following Monday's crushing defeat.

With the Liberals falling to third place in popular support for the first time in its history, most believed that their problems went well beyond the performance of their leader.

"The Liberal party has always suffered from the delusion that all it needs to do to remedy what ails it is wait for a messiah to... lead it to power," said Akaash Maharaj, who was national policy chairman of the federal Liberals for five years up until 2003. "I expect if a messiah were in fact to come to Earth today, he would have better things to do with his time than to lead the Liberal Party of Canada."

Maharaj, a senior resident at the University of Toronto's Massey College, said that a focus on leadership in recent years has "distracted" Liberals from examining the identity of the party, which no longer has appeal to the vast majority of Canadians.

Other former Liberal insiders agreed that the party needs to spend some time analyzing what it stands for in order to understand the message being sent by the Canadian people following the recent beating that left them with less than three dozen seats and major losses, including the seat held by outgoing leader Michael Ignatieff who left a job teaching at Harvard University in Boston, to return to Canada as a politician in 2005.

"They need to do many other things first and then ultimately, get a leader that fits with what they decided to do," said Brooke Jeffrey, a longtime Liberal staffer who authored a book, Divided Loyalties, about the party's recent history.


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