I read the news last week that Mark Marrisen has signed-on as Stephane Dion's potential national campaign manager (if he runs, of course) while I was away and I didn't want to let it go without comment.
While I haven’t endorsed anyone yet, I've been hoping for some time he would enter the race and along with Ken Dryden he's the only candidate in the current field I could see myself supporting.
First, I guess this ends any possibility of a Christy Clark campaign (
But anyway, I'm of mixed feelings about the news.
On the one hand, this signals Dion is a fairly serious contender, and will at least have some West coast support. Mark ran Paul Martin's BC operation with a gloved fist of iron, and say what you will about his tactics (I and many have) but one thing he does know how to do is win delegate selection meetings (and create paper campus clubs, but that's another story).
So the fact Marrisen is onboard lends some weight to Dion's potential campaign, although I wouldn't put Mark in the same category as some of the people lining up behind Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae and some of the others. Can Mark win on a level and unrigged playing field though? Should be interesting.
On the downside, Marrisen represents a lot of what is wrong with the Liberal Party, fairly or unfairly. As Martin's BC Leiutenant and two-time provincial campaign co-chair, that's just the way it is. Young Liberal campus club shenanigans have been in the news of late, that all happened under Mark's watch (and likely direction) during the last leadership campaign. The with us or against us mentality he brought, typified by former Chretien Minister Herb Daliwhal's ouster from his own riding association, has made him a lot of enemies in the province.
In short, like much of the Martin team his style proved very effective for winning delegate selection meetings but was radioactive for party unity. Electoral success in B.C., while impressive, has also been confined to urban areas, and came at a price.
The positive thing though is that the Martinis seem to have spread throughout the leadership field, I haven't seen a heavy concentration with any one candidate. That's a good thing, and it's why I won't loose too much sleep over Marrisen's running Dion's campaign. As long as Dion keeps him honest (no more shenanigans), power to him.
Whomever winds up as leader I hope they take a few lessons from the past few years and don't repeat the same mistakes.
- The people that got you the leadership aren't necesarily the same people that can win you the election, and/or run your office/the country.
- The party is bigger than the leader. It's the Liberal team, not the personality cult team. It doesn't matter who supported who for the leadership, we need to all work together, and not just say so on television
This convention date means an earlier membership sales cutoff, and less time for the policy debate and soul searching this party needs. I hope, at least, that the party organizes a series of debates accross the country so something resembling that debate can take place.
*That said, the opposition parties shouldn't back down on issues like daycare. Harper's party is clearly in the minority there, and if he doesn't want to negoiate then let him explain to the Canadian public why we're at the polls again, because it'd be his fault. I'd enjoy that campaign.
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