This article describes some of the debate taking place:
Battle lines were drawn between two prospective successors, Bob Rae and Dominic LeBlanc, over whether the once-mighty party should consider merging with the ascendant NDP.
Rae said the idea must be discussed. LeBlanc said it would be a disservice to the country and thousands of loyal Liberal militants to throw in the towel.
But before you start stewing about Bob Rae 'selling out' Liberals, consider the qualifications he made to his recommendation:
The vote splitting prompted Rae to bluntly conclude the Liberals must at least consider whether uniting with the NDP is the only way to defeat the Tories.
Rae, a former NDP premier of Ontario, said he's not promoting a merger; he's simply recognizing that the debate will inevitably take place.
"It's hard to see how the discussion could be avoided," said Rae, who acknowledged he's "thinking about" running to succeed Ignatieff.
"Whatever happens, the Liberal party needs to think long and hard about what it really believes in and what it really stands for and it also has to look long and hard at the political framework in which we're all working."
Rae said there's been "an evolution" among all parties and "it would be irresponsible not to listen to what Canadians think about this question."
Anything in this that says Rae's pushing merger down anybody's throats?
He goes on to say:
Rae said a merger "can never be about one party taking over another party. The discussion has to be about is there a possibility of a new, broader alliance. And if there is, fine. If there isn't, that's fine too."
That seems pretty realistic to me, too, and reassuring. It is certainly not a defeatist attitude. Anyone who has spoken to Rae for more than a minute knows that this man is a fighter, not a quitter.
His position is very clear and very fair: the left is splintered, a far right wing party now has a majority of seats for at least 4 years, and yet only won 40% of the votes cast to the centre-left's 60%.
In any case, any leader of the Liberal Party who did NOT insist on a dialogue within the party on some form of cooperation between the centre-left parties (covering the spectrum from a complete merger of two parties, to a coalition before or after an election to some form on case by case cooperation) would be failing in his or her duty. We have already suffered substantial losses of seats because there was no form of cooperation between the parties since Ignatieff unilaterally (without any internal party discussion including members of the party as well as MPs) decided to scrap the Coalition Agreement of 2008.
We don't need any more unilateral decisions on such important issues by our leader; we need debate amongst members.
And in any case, any decision on any kind of merger would require agreement by a majority of Liberal Party members to be effective. Nothing Rae has said indicates he is proposing an Ignatieff unilateral declaration of merger type of process.