Four signs you're not going to win the leadership of the federal Liberal Party:
1) Pierre Trudeau's son is against you, and Bernard Landry is for you.
2) The only plank of your platform that now matters has been widely rejected in English Canada, even by some of your own supporters.
3) The opinion is crystallizing that your party needs to be saved from you, your opponents are scrambling to limit the damage you've caused already, and the country's most influential pundit has called you an idiot.
4) The other candidates, whose supporters you need to win over, are lined up against you on what has become the single issue of the campaign.
All this has happened since the Quebec wing of the party, led by Michael Ignatieff's supporters, polarized the leadership campaign on whether or not to recognize Quebec as a nation.
After Justin Trudeau said the idea of Quebec nationhood "stands against everything my father ever believed," Landry rushed to congratulate Ignatieff and the Quebec Liberals.
He did so in an open letter written in French and addressed to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but maybe really intended for English Canada.
Landry might have hoped that the endorsement of a well-known sovereignist would sabotage the nationhood proposal, causing Quebec to feel rejected once again.
He might have been inspired by Jacques Parizeau's mischievous advice to viewers of CBC's The Journal during the Meech Lake debate to "just watch" how he would use the clause recognizing Quebec as a "distinct society."
Landry warned that recognition of Quebec nationhood would lead to sovereignty. "Why should the Quebec nation be satisfied with the status of the province of another nation and give up equality with your nation and all others?"
His letter was drawn to the attention of the rest of the country by a former Trudeau aide, Thomas Axworthy, in the favourite newspaper of the English Canadian political class, the Globe and Mail.
By this time, every newspaper and commentator in English Canada who had weighed in on the subject had already rejected recognition of Quebec as a nation.
The Globe and Mail's national columnist Jeffrey Simpson started out by suggesting that Ignatieff is worse than a fool, then worked up to calling him an "idiot savant." The tone of the column clearly placed the emphasis on the first word of that phrase.
Alarmed at the prospect of the convention tearing itself apart over the Quebec wing's resolution on recognition, other candidates have been seeking a compromise alternative.
But the genie is already out of the lamp, and either the convention will end up recognizing Quebec as a nation, or it won't. And so far neither the Quebec wing nor Ignatieff has indicated any willingness to lose face by retreating.
Indeed, Quebec members continue to defend their resolution and insist that the convention adopt it. Sounding as though he's already preparing his next resignation from the party, Jean Lapierre said Quebecers would be justified in interpreting rejection of the resolution as "a slap in the face."
Officially, Ignatieff is leading the race for the leadership, to be decided a month from today at the end of the party's convention in Montreal (see table).
But he is still well short of the majority among all voting delegates that he needs. Much depends upon which delegates actually show up in Montreal, since neither the party nor the candidates are paying their way.
And unlike the elected delegates, the approximately 880 party officials who are unelected delegates do not have to commit themselves before they cast their ballots at the convention.
They must be having doubts about entrusting the leadership of their party to such an erratic campaigner. Even some of the declared Ignatieff supporters among them have expressed opposition to recognizing Quebec as a nation.
So it's theoretically possible that when the first ballot is counted, Ignatieff won't even be in first place. And even if he leads on the first ballot, he probably won't on the last one.
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First-ballot votes at the Liberal leadership convention
Michael Ignatieff - 1309 elected delegates.
Bob Rae- 881.
Gerard Kennedy - 751.
Stephane Dion - 694.
Joe Volpe - 211.
Ken Dryden - 187
Scott Brison - 153.
Martha Hall Findlay - 38.
Undeclared - 109.
Uncommitted, unelected delegates - about 880.
Required to win - simple majority of delegates voting.
Liberal Party of Canada
Pass the peanut butter, it looks like Ignatieff is toast
His 'nationhood' proposal has stirred political heavies to line up against him
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