Friday, October 19, 2007

To know him is to love him

Positive news for the Liberals on the Quebec front today, with Marc Garneau holding a press conference with Stephane Dion to announce he’ll be running for the Liberals after all, in the (hopefully) relatively safe seat of Westmount.

I think the impact of Garneau’s initial announcement that he wasn’t running was overhyped, so let’s not overhype the fact he’ll be running after all. It is, however, a positive step, and I think when it comes to the Quebec front these days we Liberals need to grab all the positive developments we can.

But what I found interesting as I popped back up to the hotel room to see a bit of the news coverage before lunch was what changed Garneau’s mind about running. He initially declined over concerns about Dion’s leadership, but Dion had him over for dinner and meeting Dion personally turned Garneau around:

Garneau told reporters Friday that many Liberals had lobbied him to reconsider -- including Dion.

"This act of leadership really touched me," he said. "I got to know Mr. Dion in a way that I didn't know before ... Mr. Dion has stretched his hand, and in return I have stretched mine."

I think that’s the thing, and the challenge, with Stephane. It was the challenge in the leadership race for him too, and one he was able to overcome. If you’ve only seen Dion on TV you might have a less then positive impression of him, and his communications strategy since winning the leadership hasn’t been good at all, to say the least. We’re not doing well with the media.

If you meet him in person though, or see him speak live, it’s a whole other dynamic. To know him is to love him, I think that’s the case with Garneau. The problem, of course, is that he can’t personally meet 30 million Canadians, that just won’t work.

The challenge for the Liberal Party and for Stephane Dion is to find a way to try to transfer what makes him compelling in person and make it transfer into the mass media spectrum. Easier said then done, needless to say. Although, I’d like to think, if Steve Harper can do it, Dion should at least have a shot.

Either that, or he needs to start knocking on 30 million doors.

And, I'll say it again, start proposing substantive alternative policy!

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8 comments:

R said...

In the last year and a half, Garneau has:

1. Been trounced by a Bloc nobody MP;

2. Been largely responsible for the silly nation resultion that (a) tore apart the Liberal party during the leadership campaign; (b) handed Harper a hammer to hit us over the head with; and

3. Been part of the trouble makers within LPC(Q) who have destroyed dion since Outremont....; and

4. Was just handed one of the safest Liberal seats in the country.

This all pisses me off. I dont see it as a reason for celebration. If anything, it is yet another reason I am questioning why I am a Liberal.

s.b. said...

Yes and another "safe" liberal nomination gets appointed to a man. If he were a woman I'm sure everyone would scream bloody murder, but then again she might win. We may just have lost another riding in Quebec.

Jason Hickman said...

The challenge for the Liberal Party and for Stephane Dion is to find a way to try to transfer what makes him compelling in person and make it transfer into the mass media spectrum. Easier said then done, needless to say.

The problem is, people said the same thing about John Tory: the argument was, if anyone other than a hard-core partisan met him in person, and *especially* if one got a chance to talk to him, he was great and could "sell" himself and even his schools plan.

Problem is, not everyone in Ontario got to meet him one-on-one.

Snide comments aside, I'm not assuming that Dion's dead + gone, politically. I've said it before - campaigns matter. Pre-election shenanigans are fun, and abosultely *can* have a direct impact on the result later on, but as Harper did show, such things can be overcome. So I'm not taking Dion lightly, and if you think Harper & Co are, you've been reading too many of the younger auteurs on Liblogs (or the BT's for that matter).

All of that said ... if the plan is to play "to know him is to love him" - well, that's easier to do in a leadership convention, let's put it that way.

As for the idea that SD needs policies ... can't argue that, even if I hope he doesn't listen to your sage advice. I thought Dion may be on to something with his corporate tax-cut speech (go figure).

But it seems that for the first few days of QP at least the Liberals have been focused only on the alleged sins of the Tories rather than (say) productivity. If the Libs go with that plus a dose of "We can do Kyoto now - Honest!", he may as well start knocking on all those doors.

900 ft Jesus said...

BCer, there was a good article on Dion saying there's more to him than meets the eye:

http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/opinion/story.html?id=3cb55417-36b3-4d89-82ed-b1b4b8e3b121

A BCer in Toronto said...

R, I think the initial Garneau event was just seized-on by people with other agendas. I think the motives of Garneau himself were honest, and he was just politically naive. I was upset at how things went down, but I think we need to reconcile and come together in Quebec, which means everyone gives a little, and I think Garneau coming-in *could* be a positive reconciliatory step.

Jason, certainly to know him is to love him can't be the strategy, and obviously its a gross simplification and generalization. My message was just that, by and large, Dion comes across better in a room then on tv or in a filtered media environment, and since our messaging has sucked we should try to look at what he doesn't differently in those forums where he does well, and see if we can build on that in those forums where he doesn't.

Tory could well me a cautionary tale. First lesson for Dion: stay away from religious schooling! And communicate better.

I know Harper is wily, and is certainly a keener political strategist than his blogging minions. Which is why I was reasonable sure he didn't want an election right now. The polls are no better for him, and he knows in an election anything can happen, and Dion could well be a formidable opponent.

I haven't watched or paid too much attention to QP the last little while, but from what I've heard of the Liberal strategy there is that the idea is to draw attention to some of the very real ongoing scandals of the Cons to try and dilute an area of strength for Cons, namely Harper's leadership. I think those attacks are needed and could well pay off, but they need to be coupled with real, substantive, achievable alternative policy proposals as well.

Con numbers have been staying down, but so have ours. We haven't been able to capitalize on Con weakness. Part A is shake those Con votes free, but if we don't have Plan B, policy alternatives, then we're not going to be able to move those votes over to the Liberal column.

R said...

You may wish that were true but it isn't. Garneau is in tight with Coderre, the LPC(Q) and the rest of the Iggy folks in Quebec. Their mission is to take Dion down. Garneau ain't the savior folks, he's part of the problem.

Mushroom said...

r:

I will not call Meili Faille a nobody MP. In an election, many Bloc MPs will lose their seats but Faille could hold on. Sen. Fortier needs to work doubly hard to win Vaudreuil for Harper.

Ostracization has not worked. That is why David Smith has been brought back to the fold. If Liza Frulla and Martin Cauchon decides to run again then Dion's initial mistakes would have been learned.

Lesson from John Tory, don't be a one trick pony. Like the religious schools issue. Why support something that smacks in the face of the Ontario PCs Orangemen traditions?

David Elliott said...

I'm more interested when Harper makes Fortier step down from the senate and run for office like Garneau or Trudeau.

I'm angry that Harper continues to play around with parliament and parliamentary procedure like Nero with a violin.

I don't remember anyone before Harper so undercutting his members and undercutting the democratic process.