Topp as the merger/takeover candidate?
Lots of reaction poured in after Friday's post, about the future viability of the Liberal Party. In addition to the comments logged at the actual blog, I received plenty of emails from people who wanted to offer more discreet assurances that the Liberal party was indeed alive and kicking. I'll have more to say on that in the days and weeks to come.
There are folks out there, though, who continue to believe that Liberals, like the old Progressive Conservatives, are going to have to reconcile themselves to a merger with the NDP (which many argue was more of an absorption.) Within this group, there are those who see leadership candidate Brian Topp as a stalking horse for this eventual merger/takeover. Non-Liberals have also posited this theory. The evidence is intriguing.
* Topp has received the endorsements of his old boss, Roy Romanow, as well as former NDP leader Ed Broadbent.
* Broadbent and Romanow, along with Jean Chretien, were the senior statesmen behind the scenes during the 2008 attempt to unseat the Conservatives with a Liberal-NDP coalition.
* Chretien continues to speak in favour of merger (much to the annoyance, it should be pointed out, of many people within the Liberal party, including some of his old loyalists.)
So, loosely, the idea is that Topp would win the NDP leadership and then set about merging with the Liberals or doing an outright takeover, a la Stephen Harper with the PCs in 2002-03.
Problem with that theory: Broadbent and Romanow have spoken against a merger, and Liberal and NDP officials repeatedly deny that any talks or plans are under way.
For his part, Topp was asked about merger possibilities when he appeared on CTV's Question Period yesterday. As I heard it, Topp is more focused on the long-term goal of simply making the Liberals irrelevant/extinct. Here's how that conversation went (transcript courtesy of CTV):