The Hill Times has a story on Ignatieff's "kitchen cabinet":
Each weekday morning when the House is in session, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff sits down at 8:30 in the boardroom in his office in 409-S Centre Block with the 12 MPs who make up his Strategy and Tactics Committee, the so-called "Kitchen Cabinet."
If you review the list of MP's in this group, you see a wide sample of opinion, representative of various "wings" within the party. I'm pretty impressed that Ignatieff puts such a premium on getting outside advice, rather than just insulating himself, relying on a narrow core. A leader needs to absorb as many points of view as possible, in this way they will make more informed and wise decisions. An inclusive approach is a nice contrast to the one man show on the Conservative side, where we know full well Harper usually dictates, with little interaction. Given these type of meetings really serve no electoral interest, I think it speaks to a genuine openness to different lines of thought and it should serve us well moving forward.
The Toronto Star has a pretty comprehensive story, that offers many hints. On fundraising, while we have no numbers yet for this quarter, we keep hearing signals that there's been an uptick, under Ignatieff, from various sources. Another general indication here:
But Liberal organizers take some solace that in the last three weeks of December, after Ignatieff took over as interim leader, the party raised more than $1.1 million. And they say that momentum has carried into this year.
I'm sure, when this quarter fundraising is released, Liberals will still have much work to do. However, a sense of improved fundraising will send a clear signal that the Liberal Party has some momentum, further cementing an emerging frame within the media that Ignatieff has been a positive. On a similar note, attendance at Ignatieff's events, every one of which has been sold out, is beginning to support the notion of a re-energized party:
And the Liberal leader is drawing crowds. When Ignatieff spoke in Edmonton on Feb. 27, 800 people paid to attend the event with another 200 on the waiting list, he said. "That sort of thing hasn't been seen in ages," Apps noted. A similar crowd appeared to hear Ignatieff the next day.
People may remember, one of the media's favorite pet digs, was constant references to "poorly attended" events in the past. These events were used to convey a larger thesis of a party in disarray, spinning its wheels, going nowhere. You can't underestimate the optical importance of "energy" when a leader tours the country, again this frame gives a sense of momentum. Not only do you enhance fundraising and organization by drawing crowds, but you give the impression that something different is happening here. Public relations gold.
On election timing, it would appear my June argument doesn't have many supporters, which is hardly surprising:
Though June is cited as one window for a possible election, there's consensus that would be too early, both for the party's own organization and Canadians who likely aren't keen for the distraction of a vote while worrying about their own futures.
The real window seems to be the fall, or at the latest the next budget. I can see the rationale, especially if the economy doesn't show signs of turnaround late this year (which looks less likely with each passing day).
One of the most intriguing items I'll be watching- what calibre of new candidates can Ignatieff attract? Already talk of an improved slate:
"There's a lot of people who want to run, so even if we had an electoral emergency, we would be able to field a much stronger slate of candidates" than last time, Apps said.
Attracting "star" candidates is another offshoot of improving perceptions under Ignatieff. We've already heard a few rumors, and the more general view that Ignatieff will look to recruit people with economic credentials. That emphasis is a no brainer in this particular climate. I'll be particularly interested in which Quebecers Ignatieff manages to entice, as well as what he attracts in the prairie provinces.
All in all, if one is being intellectually fair, letting the objective indicators shape the thesis, rather than disjointed attempts to support pre-conceived negative bias, it's hard to argue anything but the following- things are looking up for the Liberal Party of Canada.