Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why not Stephane Dion?

I've been mulling over the leadership question for some time, obviously more closely recently, and as I look over the list of usual suspects I can't say there are any I can get excited about at this point.

The names often most mentioned, such as Frank McKenna, Belinda Stronach, John Manley, Martin Cauchon, Joe Volpe (shudder), Scott Brison, Michael Ignatieff, and so on, don't elicit much more than a yawn. Other than Ignatieff (will someone PLEASE explain why this guy is considered a serious candidate?), they’re the usual crop of politicians that I can’t see inspiring anyone.

David Emerson has some potential, but I fear he’d have the BC Martinite gang pulling the strings. One thing I can say at this point is whatever candidate the Martinite koolade drinkers flock to, Herle and Reid et al., is the candidate I will run away from. Any candidate should consider them kryptonite.

But let’s consider some of the factors we need in a new leader. If we keep the alternating rule, which I don’t necessarily consider a must, then it’s a francophone’s turn. Where will a potential Conservative majority likely be won? Quebec. We have a major rebuilding job to do there if we are to challenge the Conservatives as the voice of federalism in the province. We also need someone that can heal the party, someone respected by both the Chretien and Martin wings of the party. I think if we can regain Quebec, we'll stabalize and potentially reclaim ground in Ontario.

So when I think about it, I wonder, why not Stephane Dion? He’s 50 years old, was a cabinet minister under both Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, is respected by both camps for his intelligence and class, and has been untainted by scandal. He’s a straight shooter, and smart as a whip.

He’s probably best known for his time as Chretien’s Intergovernmental Affairs Minister, where he was a big part of “Plan B” and the Clarity Act to fight the Quebec separatists. I think the Clarity Act was one of Chretien’s biggest legacies (screw-you Jean Lapierre), and Dion was a big part of it. His letter exchange with Bernard Landry was also classic. Wouldn’t he a more attractive federalist champion than Stephen Harper?

On the flip side, I just don’t know if Dion has the drive, that royal jelly, to make the transition from lieutenant to leader and to inspire the country from coast to coast. But then again, Martin seemed to have the jelly oozing out of his ears, didn’t he? Also, could Dion raise money in Toronto and Vancouver?

I think Dion would be an intriguing choice, and he would be a candidate I could get behind. He certainly stands out from the current pack, of that there is no doubt.

UPDATE! This morning Paul Wells reports on growing pockets of support for Dion to throw his hat into the leadership race. Even more exciting, he links to a Le Devoir report this morning that Dion actually IS considering a run. Here's hoping he does.

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Mark said...

good call

Anonymous said...

I absolutely adore this man. He's the sort of consensus leader that will heal the wounds caused by the Chretien-Martin feud and excite our party's grassroots (especially to donate $). I've been thinking about starting a 'Draft Dion' website over the last month or so when it appeared Martin was toast. What do you think guys, should I?

Jeff said...

I think that's a great idea Chretianite. There seems to be growing pockets of support for him in the blogsphere, and Paul Wells this morning in his blog links to a Le Devoir report that Dion is considering a run. Maybe if he sees that he has support out there he will take the leap.

Anonymous said...

Sign this southwestern Ontario Grit up for a draft Dion campaign!

Anonymous said...

He would also be a much more welcome facec to put on the party in Quebec than any that we designated as "lieutenants" in the old regime, like Ouellet, Gagliano, etc.

Ted Betts said...

I think my inclinations are already set for the leadership race, but I think he would be a great addition to the leadership race and would represent Quebec interests in leadership debates well. Just by being in the race, he would ensure Quebec issues are front and centre. And if he actually won, he'd be an easy one for the rank and file to follow.

His problem is that I think the rank and file want some new blood. Although he kept himself clean, he'd still be tied to the Old Regime.

And Chretianite (why not Chretienite??), if you are serious about starting a "Draft Dion" campaign, I'd suggest you change your moniker. There is a very strong impulse in the party to move away from both camps. They have both poisoned the brand.


Anonymous said...

A nice, capable man. But not a leader.

Anonymous said...

Dion has the potential to be a great choice to unite a divided party, a consensus-style leader especially if two front runners create (or enforce) a schism.
Might I suggest another candidate for leader? Now that there is some agreement that the power central has slightly shifted westward (at least by tory claims, but certainly economically too), maybe Liberalism should look at a western leader option. This person would not be a token choice, but one with a record and an integrity both inside and outside elected office, nationally and internationally, who would set us a part from the other two colas. He would also bring a more progressive side of Gritdom to the table, one steeped in both Pearson and Trudeau lore. While Harper might occasionally cuddle or stray to the centre for the next year or so, we should ambitiously stake out our own territory, all part and parcel with fresh, modern and inspiring policies. This person would also attract left-side travellers who have shifted to NDP/Green paths. It would be the return of the Big Tent.
This person is Lloyd Axworthy. Spread the word!

Anonymous said...

I echo the call that Axworthy be another name that is considered. As far as the Left-Liberals I would rather have Llyod represent our views over showboats like Coops or Rock.

Someone with greater technical skills than myself should start a draftllyod.blogspot.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Stephane Dion is a man of guts and principals - just the stuff that is in short supply these days. A leader must be strong, stick to his principals and be capable of vigorous, logical debate. Let's put a stop to silly popularity contests, appointing burn-outs with baggage simply because it's their turn and choose someone to make all Canadians proud.

Anonymous said...

If it wasn't for Irwin Cotler Mr Dion would have been the worst MP and cabinet minister in history. He may have been good for Quebec but nowhere else in Canada. After Quebec seperates he may make a good PM of the "nation of Quebec.