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! Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers