By Tina Comeau
On Monday the federal election claimed Michael Ignatieff’s MP seat in the House of Commons. On Tuesday morning the crushing defeat of the Liberal party also claimed its leader as Ignatieff announced he is resigning as leader of the party.
The Liberal party went from 77 seats before the election to a distant third after it. The party won only 34 seats in the May 2 vote that resulted in a Conservative majority government.
The party lost its official opposition status, which has gone to the NDP, which captured 102 seats in the federal election following a late-election campaign NDP surge that followed the party to the ballot box.
Ignatieff’s resignation will mean a fourth leadership convention for the Liberals since 2003 and the selection of an interim leader. The timing of both of these things are yet to be determined.
Although he has announced his intention to step down, Ignatieff hasn’t yet submitted his formal resignation. When he does that it will trigger the timing of the leadership vote. Under the Liberal party’s constitution a leadership vote has to be held within six months of the leader declaring his intention to resign.
As the poll results came in on Monday night and into early Tuesday morning, Ignatieff said he took responsibility for the Liberal defeat. But unlike Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe who announced his resignation as party leader on Monday evening after the Bloc was virtually wiped out of the House of Commons – the party won just four seats and Duceppe, like Ignatieff, lost his own seat – the Liberal leader did not announce his departure on election night, although he hinted at it.
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“I will serve as long as the party wants to make me serve or asks me to serve and not a day longer,” he said. Pundits were saying without a seat in the house it would be hard for Ignatieff to carry on as leader.
Ignatieff was the only party leader that visited Yarmouth during the election campaign. He attended a rally at the Yarmouth Junior High School on April 20. At that point the Liberals were second in the polls but as election day drew closer the NDP’s popularity grew and surpassed the Liberals in the polls.
In analysing where things went wrong for the party and his own campaign, Ignatieff also said the Conservative attack ads against him had an impact on his campaign.