I'm having a very busy day at work, and then after work I'm off to the Maple Leafs game (go Isles!), so I won't have time until late tonight or early tomorrow to respond to the decision by Stéphane Dion today to step aside as party leader with the time and thought deserved.
For now, I'll just say I'm very sorry about the way things worked out. Stéphane is a good man and a good Canadian, and my respect for him has never wavered. No matter what the last few chapters of his political biography may read, today he's ending his leadership as he has spent his career: putting his party and his country first. Which just deepens my respect for the man all the more.
In the mean time, here's his statement, followed by an e-mail that went-out from the Michael Ignatieff campaign this afternoon.
After the election on October 14 I announced I would stay on as Leader of the Liberal Party until my party could select my successor. One of my goals was to ensure an effective opposition to Stephen Harper's government.
I believe that decision was the right one and I am proud of having forced Stephen Harper to back away from his attempt to force upon Canadians his most ideological and harmful plans in these tough economic times.
The alliance between the Liberal Party and the NDP to replace the Harper government, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, is a solid basis to give Canada a government that reflects both the aspirations of the majority of Canadians and the support of the majority of Members of
Parliament. Such a government would be more stable than a minority Conservative government incapable of cooperating with opposition parties.
As the Governor General has granted a prorogation, it is a logical time for us Liberals to assess how we can best prepare our party to carry this fight forward.
There is a sense in the party, and certainly in the caucus, that given these new circumstances the new leader needs to be in place before the House resumes. I agree. I recommend this course to my party and caucus.
As always, I want to do what is best for my country and my party, especially when Canadians' jobs and pensions are at risk.
So I have decided to step aside as Leader of the Liberal Party effective as soon as my successor is duly chosen.
I will offer my unconditional and enthusiastic support to my successor in the same way I have always supported the leaders of our great party. I will work under the next leader's direction with all my energy in order to give Canada a better government.
I wish to close by making it absolutely clear that my earlier departure does not change the facts of the situation that the Prime Minister has created in the last two weeks.
The Prime Minister and his government refused to lay out a plan to stimulate the economy. The Prime Minister has lost the confidence of the House of Commons. The Prime Minister shut down Parliament to save his job while thousands of Canadians are losing theirs. The Prime Minister
has poisoned the well of trust and respect that is necessary for a minority government to work in Parliament _ especially in a time of crisis. Mr. Harper took an economic crisis and added a parliamentary crisis that he then tried to transform into a national unity crisis: this is no way for a Prime Minister of Canada to act.
It is my hope that the decision I have announced today will enhance the capacity of Parliament to function effectively for the sake of Canadians in this economic crisis.
Stephane Dion, PC, MP
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Over the past few days I have been honoured by the incredible surge of support from all parts of our party for my candidacy for the leadership.
The week ahead promises to be an exciting one and I wanted to share with you my thoughts as it begins.
First, every one of us owes a debt of thanks to Mr. Dion for his public service as Leader of our party, as a cabinet minister and an MP. I hope that we may continue to count on his contributions to Canada and to the Liberal Party.
Second, I want to share with you that I will stand as a candidate to replace Mr. Dion under the process outlined in the party constitution, as voted upon by the delegates of the grassroots of our party at the last convention in Montreal, for replacement of a Leader who resigns prior to a leadership convention. I am doing so because our parliamentary caucus and party need leadership now to confront Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
Third, should I succeed in winning the support of the national executive of the party and our caucus as leader, I remain committed to having that leadership confirmed by our party at our upcoming convention in Vancouver, as our party's constitution requires.
Fourth, should I become leader I hope to immediately engage the grassroots in the very real policy challenges facing our country at a time of peril and in the party renewal challenges that all Liberals must face together. I will need the best from each and every one of us in this regard.
Thanks to each and every one of you for all your hard work and support on my behalf. It is appreciated more than I can say. If you haven’t done so already please tell me what you think, volunteer or make a donation.