According to reports last night from the CBC, the opposition parties have reached agreement to defeat the Conservatives and form a coalition government. What the reports make unclear is just who will serve as Prime Minister. I would like to state unequivocally that, in my view, the leader must be Stéphane Dion.
Mr. Dion is the duly elected leader of our party, and in my view, to propose any other person to lead the coalition would be undemocratic, and it would be unacceptable to the rank and file of the Liberal Party. Now if the BQ or the NDP would be unwilling to support a coalition with Dion as leader, that would be something we'd have to carefully consider. But let me be clear: were our own caucus to propose any other person to lead this coalition than Dion it would be unacceptable, intolerable, and just plain stupid. We must stand behind our leader. And Stéphane deserves this chance to serve Canada, as he has all his political career, with honour and with dignity.
Now, Dion has already announced his intention to resign in May, and I've had no indication that he is considering revisiting that decision. So it would seem logical that, no matter what happens with a potential coalition, the leadership process will continue. That makes it even more logical for Dion to continue to serve as Liberal leader and, therefore, as coalition leader and Prime Minister. As a neutral leadership figure not tied to any leadership camp, he can rise above the ongoing leadership debate and focus all his energies on the good of the country.
Let me add that, if for some unforeseen reason, and the only acceptable one I can think of would be a strident demand of the NDP and BQ, Dion can't lead this coalition, then no way in hell should it be one of the leadership candidates. That would be madness. The leadership must be decided by the membership of the Liberal Party, period. And I don't see how the leadership process could continue with one of the candidates serving as PM. Espically now, that's a full-time job. So it would mean a short-circuiting of the membership's right to chose, and that's unacceptable.
I support Michael Ignatieff in the leadership race. When we have delegate selection meetings I will vote for him, I will stand as an Ignatieff delegate and, if selected, I will go to Vancouver to cast my vote for Michael in May. But until that convention selects a new leader, my leader is Stéphane Dion, and I stand behind him 100 per cent.
So too, by the way, does Michael Ignatieff. He has said so repeatedly and publicly. Yesterday I posted two interviews Michael did Sunday, one on CBC News Sunday and the other on CTV's Question Period. In the CTV one in particular, Jane Taber repeatedly tried to goad him into showing disloyalty. Michael steadfastly refused. Stéphane, he said, is the leader of our party. Period. He also launched a passionate defence of Stéphane when Taber tried to disgustingly paint him as colluding with separatists and threatening Canadian unity:
“Do you seriously suppose, that a man like Mr. Dion, who has fought separatism, fought for the unity of Canada, fought to make Canada strong, and to defend the necessary powers of the federal government, is going to trade any of that away to anybody? I just don't think that's a plausible hypothesis.”
There was real passion in Michael's voice there, and I was happy and proud to see that Michael has Stéphane's back.
There's going to be a lot of crap planted by the Conservatives over the next week as they desperately try to cling to power and tear this coalition apart. Crap like the lies they've planted in the National Post last night, alleging disloyalty by Ignatieff. It's just not true. Any reasonable person knows that. Even Bob Rae confirms the stories are false.
This is the Conservative spin machine and dirty tricks squad trying to sow disunity in Liberal ranks. Don't fall for it. Don't play into their hands. It's vital that we ignore this BS and stay together as a party, united behind our leader, Stéphane Dion. Those attacking your fellow Liberals with phony stories planted by our enemies will only hurt the Liberal Party, and reflect poorly on the candidate you purport to support.
As Michael said in yesterday's interviews, let's keep our eyes on the prize. This is about Stephen Harper, and his total lack of empathy and understanding for the concerns of Canadians. It's about this government's total lack of action to deal with this economic crisis. And it's about giving Canadians the government they deserve.
Let's stay focused. Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers