To say the past two weeks have been disastrous for the Liberals would be an understatement. Infighting in Quebec has dashed the party's hopes of considerable gains in that province, the authority of leader Michael Ignatieff has been called into question, and recent polling numbers would give any Grit nightmares.
This whole episode has stemmed from two Liberals - Martin Cauchon and Denis Coderre - placing their own ambitions ahead of the good of the party. Both had leadership ambitions, and neither would budge when push came to shove about whether or not Cauchon could run in his former riding of Outremont. As a result, Ignatieff got involved, Cauchon got his support, Coderre resigned as Quebec lieutenant, and something hit the proverbial fan.
Interference from Toronto in Quebec political affairs is like dynamite in Quebec. Coderre could have stayed on as lieutenant and made less of a display, but the knowledge of interference would have still been there. The proper course of action would have been for Cauchon to respect the original wishes of Ignatieff and Coderre, and seek another riding.
As a result, Canadians are seeing a divided party, while the Liberals try to present themselves as a viable alternative to the Harper government. Combined with the onslaught of Tory attack ads on Ignatieff, this uphill battle just became a lot steeper. Adding insult to injury, this breach came just when the party seemed to be recovered from its bitter split between Chretinites and Martinites.
One thing is certain, such shenanigans would not happen under the iron-fisted watch of Stephen Harper, who knows party discipline better than he knows any Beatles song. With polls now placing him in majority territory, his next challenge will be to orchestrate an election without appearing to do so.