Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Morning reflections

  • I see that Stephane Dion has decided that he and his team need a makeover. It seems to have become the norm in Canadian politics. You can't be a leader of a national political party any longer without undergoing a major change of image and/or team at least once.

    Now, as much as Liberals will applaud this move as one of decisive leadership by Dion, keep in mind that it was still Dion who was the leader during his difficult start.

    There is a penchant among Canadians to blame advisers for the difficulties that otherwise good people experience as political leaders. In other words, Canadians like to give people the benefit of the doubt. And, when it comes to politics, Canadians like to think that party leaders can pull themselves out as long as they eventually get the right people around them.

    Unfortunately, I don't think it works that way.

    Keep this in mind. It was Stephane Dion who was woefully unprepared for leadership when he first assumed the job. It was Stephane Dion who lashed out at critics asking about his citizenship of another country. It was Stephan Dion who decided to wrap himself in green environmental scarves despite his own terrible record. It was Stephane Dion who chose not to learn good English during decades of being first a member of a prominent federalist family, then a outspoken champion of federalism in academia, then a minister of federalism in Ottawa, and finally a leadership contender who spent a year travelling the country speaking mostly English.

    These are not things that were the fault of advisers. These are issues that strike at the heart of Dion's judgement and leadership skills. They don't change overnight. They can't be fixed by shuffling people around.

  • A lot of so-called political experts are blaming the government's current polling numbers on the environment and Afghanistan.

    However, what the opposition should probably keep in mind is that it will be very difficult to make either one of these issues a ballot question upon which Prime Minister Harper could fall.

    On Afghanistan, the government has a new detainee agreement in place. You can't keep taking Taliban prisoners at their word forever, you know.

    On the environment, since none of the opposition parties seem willing to have an election on the matter any time soon, the window of opportunity for more decisive action will close up pretty fast. By the time we do actually have an election, the opposition parties will be even harder pressed to offer ways we can actually meet our Kyoto targets.

  • Don't be surprised if Team Dion is engaging in some political bluffing of their own when it comes to the changes I mentioned earlier. I still think Dion needs an election on the environment, and he needs it sooner rather than later. As much as many of the parties don't see any advantage to a spring election, I don't think Dion can afford to climb down from his environmental chest-thumping.

    Yes, they want to make it look like they're in no hurry to have an election. However, it doesn't mean they can't find ways of stumbling into one. That's something I'll be looking for before we hit the summer.

    As always, should be fun.

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