Turner stayed the plotters' hands with a brilliant debate performance that temporarily boosted Liberal poll numbers, but his leadership was already doomed.
Now we're hearing similar talk about replacing Paul Martin, not mid-campaign, but almost immediately thereafter, even if he ekes out another minority government:
"If Martin leads this party into the next election you will have a Conservative majority," says a lifetime Liberal at the centre of one of the fledgling leadership efforts. "Anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy."
Those supporting new leadership worry that the powerful clique around Martin will interpret a second minority as a victory, mistaking holding 24 Sussex Dr., the Prime Minister's official residence, as the prize.
"Martin's people decided they won the last election," says a well-connected Liberal not involved in any leadership campaign. "For Liberals, winning is not a minority."
Read more analysis, including names of potential successors, in this Toronto Star article, which has all but put Frank McKenna in the lead for the undeclared leadership race.
The palace plotters might have an easier time of it, though, because the latest Strategic Counsel poll puts the Bloc so far ahead in Quebec, and in the Montreal region, that Paul Martin himself might be swept out of his seat.
If so, Martin would be well advised to quit on the spot, because no one will be willing to give up his seat to get Paul Martin back in Parliament for his tragic last days as opposition leader.