On one level, it's the height of elitism, decidedly undemocratic, downright unfair. However, the idea floated yesterday, one I've also considered, of simply having the Liberal caucus lock themselves in a room until they come to relative unanimity on the next leader does have merit. A vote, whomever wins, that person is the defacto leader.
One of Dion's biggest challenges, he lacked the institutional support, noteably the endorsement of our caucus. This simple reality hobbled Dion from the onset, and it does speak to some simple, cold facts. As much as we like to think the grassroots have a voice, if a potential leader doesn't enjoy support from the upper echelons of the party, then friction will always exist. Further to that, while we clearly need to change the composition of the party appartus, to better reflect rank and file opinion, no rational person expects any transformation prior to any leadership convention, in fact any efforts will be put on hold, as everyone becomes transfixed with the race.
I agree with Rae, that we "need to get on with it", although I suspect my motivations are quite different. Moving up any convention date, would effectively disallow the possibility of a third candidate emerging, the two established frontrunners would benefit, their teams are in place, they have the organization, a quick race, no problem. A longer timeframe does allow the lesser knowns an opportunity, but I still fail to see anyone emerge beyond Ignatieff or Rae, particularly if they develop a eventual mutual support strategy. That strategy seems entirely logical at this stage, because a move of one to the other, will help heal any wounds, will unify, rather than leave one on the outside of the selection. In other words, unforseen events aside, it's a two horse race, which again brings us back to the caucus.
It is undemocratic to entertain, but then again, we are talking about our democratic representatives, so you could feebly argue that the rank and file has a voice by proxy. Each MP consults with his/her consistency, before reconvening to make a choice between the two. Problematic, those ridings not represented with an MP are shut out.
The only reason I entertain this scenario, we don't have the time or energy, not to mention the resources, to go on another torturous leadership journey- despite the early talk of "civility", experience tells us nothing of the sort, particularly when you have two well established "camps". Maybe it better to short curcuit the whole flawed exercise, and just let the people who will ultimately have to work with the new leader a vote of preference. These are extraordinary times for the Liberal Party, and anything that avoids WASTING months, so that we can get to the real and MASSIVE problems, has some appeal. Crazy idea, or shrewd understanding of the circumstance?