An insider says the meeting lasted almost three hours, during which Mr. Dion and House Leader Ralph Goodale exchanged strong words with Liberal Senate Leader Céline Hervieux-Payette.
About 15 people attended and they were divided on whether the caucus should defeat the government. Insiders say that Deputy Leader Michael Ignatieff made a "passionate plea" for the Liberals to trigger an election.
Mr. Ignatieff is on the "hawk" side of the caucus. Many of his supporters want to go to the polls now so as not to be seen continually supporting the Tory economic agenda.
But he was shot down, most significantly by national campaign co-chair David Smith, a veteran organizer and senator from Ontario. Mr. Smith said simply that the party wasn't ready to mount a national campaign, one insider said.
Again, how can you not be "ready", given the inherent volatility of a minority parliament, not to mention this is the third year of said situation? I tend to agree with this harsh position:
"It's a mess," said one MP about the state of play in the caucus over triggering the government's defeat. Some MPs believe that if the campaign team is not ready, after being put on notice as far back as the fall, then the leader should fire them all.
There is simply no excuse to not be ready at this stage, and if the Liberals aren't than there is clearly an issue of competence. If the situation is so dire presently, no one can reasonably expect anything to improve in the next few weeks or months, which translates to a toothless Liberal Party heading into the fall. Maybe it's time to face reality here, do some major house cleaning, some sober second analysis and just accept the fact that October 2009 is the only timetable. How can anyone have confidence in this campaign team, when they can't even get the fundamentals prepared to fight an election in the first place?