Michael Ignatieff, on the other hand, has a problem. He can't rewrite the past. He did sign the coalition letter that went to the Governor General, and has spoken favourably of the coalition - this will all come back to haunt him.Not really a revelation, we already know that if the Conservatives were defeated, and we had an election, the coalition would be the primary attack line, they've made that obvious. If, the strategy still holds true for a future election, I would suggest it's probably a weak one at best, because the counters are powerful.
The most compelling argument, is entirely based on "the past". Conservatives seem to be clinging to Ignatieff's signature on the coalition letter. That is a fact, which Ignatieff can't deny. True enough, but there are other facts, which tend to swamp the argument. The truth of the matter, Ignatieff rejected the coalition option, despite the fact it was there for the taking, almost universal agreement amongst constitutional scholars, that he had his chance to become Prime Minister. If Ignatieff were truly part of the conspiracy to usurp the results of the last election, as Conservatives will argue, and if he presents a real threat to revive a coalition in the future, then WHY didn't he do so when the opportunity presented himself? If it's all about a power grab, a deal with socialists and separatists, then it doesn't quite jive with the practical application. In FACT, Ignatieff resisted the "power grab", he didn't take the option staring him the face, so positing the "coalition threat" really flys in the face of reality.
The most common narrative we've heard, as it relates to Ignatieff and the coalition, he was always "cool" to the idea. That view has been expressed ad nauseum, to the point of concrete truth. If the Conservatives think that irrational howls, attempting to paint Ignatieff as vehicle for a future coalition will find resonance, then they misread sentiment. If they raise the spectre of national unity, attempting to fire up their western base, they actually play into Ignatieff's hand. Part of the rationale, in avoiding the coalition option, was entirely a consideration on national unity, Ignatieff can tell western Canadians that his stance was partially a recognition of western alienation, the belief that the coalition didn't enjoy support across the country. Ignatieff can make the argument, using the coalition, to demonstrate that he is receptive to western sentiment, and he sacrificed a real opportunity for power, because he recognized the "mood". Rather than an albatross, I think Ignatieff can pivot and turn his decision into an example that he is "listening" to the views of all Canadians, personal ambition is secondary to responsibility. If Ignatieff takes western Canada for granted, if the Liberals are primarily an eastern-centric entity, then why didn't he move forward and install himself as PM? The Ignatieff decision, the facts, actually shows a sensitivity to western sentiments, rather than the craven opportunism the Conservatives will argue. The entire coalition debate is a testament to Ignatieff's desire to bring Canadians together, to be a force for unity, part of his grand vision for the country.
Stephen Harper has signed some "dubious" letters in the past, with separatists and socialists, but the real issue is the final manifestation. Ignatieff was forever "cool", he is not synonymous with the "three headed monster", in fact he's seen as the vehicle that disentangled the Liberals from the coalition. Nobody disputes that, and the letter is secondary to the events that followed. Ignatieff had a clear opportunity, nothing standing in his way, two years of government guaranteed, Harper turfed, it was all RIGHT THERE. When the Conservatives fear monger, Ignatieff has history on his side and he can turn the argument around. We don't need to entertain theoreticals, we already have the reality that played itself out, and that "fact" leaves the Conservative argument decidedly weak. I understand why the Conservatives will resort to fear mongering, after all they've sold their soul and they stand for NOTHING, but if the coalition is the centerpiece of the next "battle", I'd say you've picked the wrong target, because this guy has plenty of ammunition, and it just happens to be based on irrefutable practical evidence. Good luck.