Ding-Dong, Avon...I Mean, Liberals Calling!

By Louise Elliott, CBC News.

You've got to hand it to the federal Liberals, they sure know when to go to ground.

A squabble over Montreal's Outremont riding led to the angry resignation of Quebec lieutenant Denis Coderre. The negative fallout prompted party organizers to postpone a series of Ontario fundraisers.

First the plug was pulled on a big-money night Thursday in Woodbridge north of Toronto which would have seen leader Michael Ignatieff take the stage with former prime minister Jean Chretien.

That image would have made many Liberals squirm after Ignatieff last week denied the Outremont nomination to Martin Cauchon, a Chretien stalwart and former cabinet minister, only to change his mind under intense media and party pressure. Bob Rae, who has close ties to Chretien, added to that pressure by weighing in publicly in Cauchon's favour.

End result: Ignatieff's control of the party has been called into question.

The messiness led some party members to accuse Rae of disloyalty and worse, of having new designs on the party leadership. After all, Liberals have long learned to see dark leadership wars behind every bush.

To add to the drama, the party postponed an Ottawa fundraiser scheduled for Tuesday, featuring Rae as speaker. This allowed Ignatieff's erstwhile rival to duck the public eye. The only group at the south-end Ottawa conference hall that rainy September evening was a convention of Avon salespersons.

Who, it must be said, might have a thing or two to teach the Liberal party about raising money and banging on doors. Skills that are likely going to be extremely important to the party, very very soon.