Second Thots

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

Monday, August 13, 2007


Dion is being OVER-estimated, folks

I keep hearing various political observers suggest that Liberal leader Stephane Dion has always been underestimated. In fact, I think the opposite is true — at least since the time he's become leader. It's been my observation that many in the media have tended to over-estimate Dion's skills and abilities.

They have done it with respect to his language skills, his record on the environment, his debating skills in the House, his integrity, and more.

Leading up to the Liberal leadership convention, journalist after journalist kept telling us how surprised they were at how good his English was. So much for that.

Even after the Liberal leadership convention, journalist after journalist kept telling us how the environment would be the great advantage for Liberals now that Dion was leader. So much for that.

We were told that Dion could stand up for himself in the House, yet he embarrasses himself in Parliament almost on a daily basis. We were told that he was a man of integrity, yet he's as undemocratic in style and as vicious in attack as any other Liberal has been for the past dozen years.

For example, he's against Senate reform, he appoints candidates in ridings without nomination races, and continues to accuse our prime minister of being a liar and wanting to be an American president. These are the acts of a man of integrity?

Almost from the beginning, I have pointed out why Dion doesn't understand what being a national political leader means. To date, I have been proven right.

I don't know what it is about our media, but they just personally love Dion. I guess he just somehow embodies elements they love to see in an underdog politician. He's left-of-centre and he's an academic. In other words, he's the kind of person most people ignore, which is what media elites tend to like, of course.

All good politicians tend to be underestimated. Yet, when being underestimated is the result of incompetence, becomes a bizarre symbol of pride, and occurs despite a media that gives him the benefit of the doubt, well, there's going to be trouble. I believe there's nothing but trouble in Dion's future.

One more point before leaving this topic. Lightning usually only strikes once. Everyone points to Harper's troubles as leader and his shy personal style when trying to convince people that Dion still has a shot. Yet paths to power almost always happen uniquely for each individual. That Dion has to somehow try to pattern his success on the guy who's now PM I don't think is something that bodes well for him. In fact, I think it exposes some desperation.

It also might suggest that Stephan Dion is just not a leader. The Tories have been right in suggesting that so far. I've been right, too. We'll see if that lasts. I think it will.

How long do you think that Dion has as Liberal leader?


I don't know. I have to think that there are an awful lot of smart Liberals out there who see the same things I do. The question then becomes, what do they do about it, if they can do anything about it?

Outremont will be an important test. I believe that if he loses that by-election, more people will openly question his leadership. Then again, I don't know if the Liberals can afford another leadership race anytime soon. That, more than anything else, may cement his position until the next election.

But do some Liberals want to spend the next two years with Dion as their guy? I don't know about that.

Taking that into consideration, and assuming he won't improve, he probably has until next spring. If we don't have an election, and if he's faltering badly, he may resign and initiate a leadership race through the summer.

That's getting ahead of ourselves a lot, but you asked a question. lol


I think the main problem for Dion is that he essentially won the leadership by default. Kennedy, for his own reasons, decided that he preferred to support Dion rather than Rae of Iggy, and because he controlled his supporters so tightly, he managed to get the majority onside with Dion. Remember that going into the convention, Dion's overall support was around 18%, and his support from caucus members, the guys who knew him best,was virtually non-existent. Jim Karygiannis and Marlene Jennings were hardly at the top of the "MPs I REALLY want" list for most of the candidates.

Many Liberals, including Kennedy, seemed to expect that Harper would call a quick election, just like Chretien did to Day, and although Dion likely would not win, people like Martha Hall-Findlay, Rae, and Kennedy himself would get into Parliament and would then have a lot more influence. If the result had been cataclysmic for Dion, they could have removed him then, and the caucus would have selected the new leader, saving the costs of another leadership race. This obviously did not happen, and I think has caused Kennedy a serious problem, particularly if he can't get elected for another year or perhaps longer. Without a seat, none of them has any kind of national profile, and meanwhile Iggy is working hard....

I think the media initially hailed Dion, because he is an academic and an intellectual elitist, just the sort of person they really admire. In the early days they did try to build him up, but it's hard to maintain that kind of TLC. I think most of them have come to the conclusion that barring a major problem, Harper will likely win the next election, whenever it is held. All they can do is try to maintain some kind of stature for Dion, so that he may, just possibly, keep the Conservatives to another minority.

It's my understanding that Liberal Party rules allow the removal of a leader under only two circumstances: he is found guilty of some fairly major election infraction, or he is removed after a leadership review, which will not take place until after the next election, Short of Dion removing himself,there is little else that can be done. Having just finished Linda McQuaid's book, I think it next to impossible that Dion would consent to step aside, as he comes across as extremely obstinate and supremely confident of his own abilities. (And this in a very pro-Dion book!) The rest of the MPs can bitch and grumble all they like about his leadership, but all they would do is weaken his image, and by extension, that of the party. The Liberals would thus be seen to be in some disarray, which would benefit both the Government and the NDP.

There is also the problem of all the unpaid leadership debts, which will have to be resolved somehow by next summer I believe. It seems impossible to contemplate another race until that has all been dealt with, and the chances of the debts being paid off appears less and less likely.


Hi jad, although I agree with some of your reasoning about the unlikelihood of a Dion ouster, I still think that Liberals like winners, and that if they found it necessary to oust this guy, they'd find a way to do it. Rarely are these things resolved through party rules. Just ask Stockwell Day, who was pressured into a leadership race even though he was not bound to have one before a leadership review.


Going into the Liberal leadership convention in Montreal, Ignatieff had 29% of the grassroots Liberal party members whereas Dion only had 17%. Ignatieff had more grassroots support than Dion in Quebec. Surely this must indicate that the Liberal grassroots cannot be pleased with Dion as their leader.

Since the Liberal party is built on pork and privilege, I don't expect a grassroots revolt against Dion, but I know some Liberal party members in Ontario who are totally pissed off with Dion as leader and they openly say so.

The Liberal MSM can only go so far in shoring up Dion before they too find it too nauseous to continue printing obvious lies. Of course the Canadian MSM are a bunch of lowlifes anyway.

If the Liberals go down with Dion in the next election, that will cripple the Liberals for many years because it won't be easy to reconcile the differences as they try to rebuild the brand.


jad:... or he is removed after a leadership review, which will not take place until after the next election

Section 16(3) of the LPC Constitution states:

The National Executive is obliged to insure that the Liberal Party shall assemble in national convention no later than the second anniversary of the preceeding national convention ...

This would make the next one due around Dec, 2008. And the main highlight of that convention would be a vote of confidence in the leader.

This is bound to be a major stumbling block for Dion and the LPC. My best guess is that Dion would get at most a 65 % approval rating.

In which case Dion is left with one of two unpleasant options:

1. Resign and trigger a leadership race, ten months before the fixed election date of Oct, 2009.

2. Soldier on, and go into that election with a weak mandate.

I wrote to Garth Turner about this, but he sluffed it off. But this has all got to be a huge concern for the LPC braintrust.

I think they're screwed.

LPC Constituion


Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?