Liberals engulfed by fallout from Coderre

Federal Liberals were left grappling with the fallout Tuesday from a nuclear performance by Denis Coderre, who quit his post as the party’s Quebec lieutenant in spectacular fashion a day earlier.

Federal Liberal Denis Coderre announces he is stepping down as Quebec lieutenant and defense critic during a news conference Monday in Montreal.

MONTREAL — Federal Liberals were left grappling with the fallout Tuesday from a nuclear performance by Denis Coderre, who quit his post as the party’s Quebec lieutenant in spectacular fashion a day earlier.

The potential damage caused by Coderre’s parting shot — his claim that the Liberal party is run by Torontonians — became obvious when the three other parties gleefully announced their plans to use the comments to bash the Liberals.

One Bloc Quebecois official said there were actually “high fives” in the office when staff heard Coderre’s comments. He said the message fits precisely the theme the sovereigntist party has been trying to hammer home: that Michael Ignatieff’s supposed openness to Quebec is phony.

The NDP said they’ll use the remarks in the campaign. And the Conservatives announced plans to make every Quebec voter hear about them.

“It’s safe to assume that candidates across the province will be talking about it,” said a senior Conservative operative.

“We won’t hesitate to point out the fact that Quebecers carry no weight in the Liberal Party of Canada.”

Coderre resigned following a clash of personalities within the party, which began with a dispute over which candidate should run in the Montreal riding of Outremont.

Five members of the party executive in Quebec followed Coderre out the door, and supporters are now talking about boycotting a weekend assembly of Liberals in Quebec City.

A Montreal-area fundraiser Tuesday night required a last-minute facelift. It was originally dubbed the “Lieutenant’s Cocktail” — but it clearly required a name change since the party no longer had a Quebec lieutenant.

Because Coderre was no longer attending, Ignatieff came in his place.

As he arrived the Liberal leader told reporters internal solutions would be found to the disputes. And he stated the obvious: “We’ve had a little pushing and shoving. It has not been the easiest week of my life,” Ignatieff said.

Coderre’s decision to resign Monday stemmed from a rift with Martin Cauchon, a longtime rival who wanted to re-enter politics in his old riding of Outremont.

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