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Ignatieff bids adieu to B.C. before rushing east in bid to stop NDP

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff hands over a piece of pie to Lily Murphy, 9, as her brother Brien, 11, looks on at the Savary Island Pie Company Monday, April 25, 2011 in Vancouver.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Hello, Vancouver, and goodbye.

With six days until a federal election that could reshape the political landscape across Canada, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff jetted to British Columbia Monday for one last, quick stop to rally support for his embattled candidates before rushing east in an effort to turn back an NDP tide that threatens to submerge his party.

Five Liberal ridings in greater Vancouver and on Vancouver Island are at risk, as two new polls by Ekos and Environics show Jack Layton locking down, at least temporarily, second place behind Stephen Harper's Conservatives in the national vote.

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But those seats are nothing compared to the losses the Liberals could face in Ontario if those numbers hold up.

So after a trip to the Savary Island Pie Company in West Vancouver and a town hall in the NDP-held riding of Vancouver Kingsway - both, by the way, in ridings currently not held by the Liberals - followed by an anticipated event and media availability Tuesday morning, Mr. Ignatieff is leaving British Columbia, not to return in this election.

With six days left, and the electorate volatile, much could still change. But if current trends hold and the NDP does in fact come second in the national poll, the Bloc Québécois could suffer serious losses in Quebec, while the Conservatives could find themselves challenged by the NDP in the West.

But the Liberals stand to be the biggest losers by far. They could conceivably be shut out of British Columbia and reduced to a rump in the city of Toronto and the English-speaking parts of Montreal.

Mr. Ignatieff will do everything in his power to avoid having this happen on his watch. But time is running out, and there is only so much he can do as leader. He must go where the most votes are, and those votes are in Ontario.

From this point on, it will up to local candidates and organizers to protect the Liberal presence in B.C.

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About the Author
Writer-at-large

John Ibbitson started at The Globe in 1999 and has been Queen's Park columnist and Ottawa political affairs correspondent.Most recently, he was a correspondent and columnist in Washington, where he wrote Open and Shut: Why America has Barack Obama and Canada has Stephen Harper. He returned to Ottawa as bureau chief in 2009. More

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