Tuesday, February 20, 2007

We don't need nervous nellies or cheerleaders

To say I've been completely satisfied with the first two and a half months (yes, that's all it's been people) of Stephane Dion's leadership would be a lie. I think we've got serious work to do. But, contrary to the Chicken Little ravings in some corners of the media and the blogshpere, I don't think the sky is falling either.

This isn't a time for cheerleading. It's easy to dismiss this poll or that poll, but I think it's undeniable to say we've got to make some adjustments. We need to realize what we've been doing isn't working, and that we need to make some changes in strategy.

But this also isn't a time for nervous nellies. It's time for Liberals to come together as a party and unite behind their leader. Your candidate may not have won, and that sucks, but the leadership race is over now and it's time to pull together and move on. Proclaiming doom and gloom with undertones of schadenfreude with each bit of negative news isn't helpful, and while we need to take an underlying message from these polls the fact is it is not near as bad as some say, or seem to want to pretend it is.

I'm not saying everybody should shut up and tow the party line, far from it. That's certainly not my style. But it's too easy to just throw bricks. What is needed is constructive advice. Yes, we all recognize we need some new ideas, and a new strategy. Rather than throwing bricks, why not offer some suggestions? What would you like to see happen? How would you turn things around?

For my part, as I've said before we need to broaden our message beyond the environment. We need to brand Dion as a strong leader, and get him out in public more, amongst the people, beyond the Ottawa bubble. As nice as the whole dream team thing is, it's time to put the leader front and centre. And broadening our message doesn't have to mean revealing our policy platform earlier than we want to. Why can't we talk about Afghanistan now? We put out an interesting income trust policy recently, why haven't we been talking that up more? There's a lot of issues we could be talking about, and issues that we could be taking it to the Cons on, issues where they're vulnerable. Scott and Jonathan also have some ideas too.

In summary, the sky is not falling. Harper is still in minority territory with no majority path in sight. A Liberal minority is still a possibility. But only if we get the message that what we've been doing hasn't been working, and make some needed adjustments. Our heads shouldn't be in the sand, or in the guillotine, but on the grindstone. Well, our noses anyway.

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bigcitylib said...

Exactly right.

Also I would like to hear fewer complaints from the backers of other leadership candidates re. you should have voted for my guy. Dion has got at least a one election pass (unless that results in a Tory majority). Or do people want to spend another year navel gazing and watching Iggy trip over his own shoe-laces?

Steve V said...


Points taken, and I hope you don't put me in the "my candidate" camp, because I'm just trying to be fair. What is concerning here isn't so much the horserace numbers, Harper seems to have a ceiling, but the poll internals. Only blind partisanship can spin those as anything less than dismal, and they are in line with a poll you commented on recently.

As a blogger, don't you think you have more credibility when you admit setbacks, rather than spinning like a crazy person to suit the party ends. Everytime I write anything remotely negative, invariably some Blogging Tory picks it up as evidence of disquiet. Do you shut up and pretend all is fine, or do you try to be honest? Let the other side do the goosestep, this party should be a messy affair. Right now, at this minute, we are sucking, deal with it IMHO.

Steve V said...

To clarify, I didn't mean you deal with it necessarily :)

Anonymous said...

That "interesting" income trust policy you recently announced would be the third such Liberal policy in the last three months. This is like the three interesting budgets your party tabled in 2005, the multiple positions on Afghanistan, and the multiple positions on anti-terrorism legislation. People might take Liberal policy a little more seriously if they thought there was a chance it might stay the same week to week.

Anonymous said...

While I was in another party's camp during the Liberal leadership campaign, I am certainly not trying to express sour grapes by asking that we take a look at the strategies we are using to ensure the Liberal party wins the next election. I was in the Rae camp and yes.... after it was all over, I like everyone who takes part (even if only as a voter) in a race of that kind realizes that only one can win and I may wind up with a leader that was not my first choice. However, I can say that the only thing that did endear me to Dion later was his quick come out after the race was over, the way he talked about the "Liberal Team". It felt strong, invincible and it felt right. Even though my candidate lost I could still feel like a winnner because it felt like it was going to be a team effort. Heck to be honest I am for an even bigger team plan believing that an NDP/Liberal coalition is the most ideal team to run my country.

No I don't believe that seeing more of Dion playing alone on Harper's swing set is going to bring people back to the winning team vision. We were in the right spot the first few weeks right after the race.
I am actually offended that you would state that bloggers may be crying "watch out" because we voted for someone else. Not a great argument I am afraid.

Jeff said...

Steve, woman at mile 0, I wasn't referring to either of you. I agree with you that we need to be raising alarms. I've been raising then myself. And I agree we need to be willing to call our own party to task. That's why I said we don't need cheerleaders.

My point was that neither extreme, cheerleading or brick throwing, is helpful. Call to task, yes, but rather that just saying things suck I think it's better to offer some constructive criticism. I think you'd both agree with that, as I think that's what you've been doing.

I have detected in some quarters though traces of remaining leadership bitterness, and undertones of ha ha'ing. That's fusturating, and destructive, IMO. Again, I'm not talking about either of you. But that is what I have seen from others in some limited cases, and I'll call that as I see it too.

Gayle said...

I am not a member of the liberal party, and have not voted liberal for some time. Despite what some people might think, I am far more motivated by the need to rid this country of Harper than I am by any desire to see the liberals back in power.

I have chosen to financially support the liberals recently because I see them as the best way to defeat Harper, whom I see as someone, if given a majority, will destroy my country. (Although I do not like him, like many people I am comfortable with him in a minority government).

I like Dion, and to the extent I followed the leadership campaign (not too closely) I was impressed by him. I would have been happy with Iggy, Kennedy or Rae too.

What concerns me right now is all these rumours about how Iggy is
"waiting in the wings". I think they are terribly destructive. Your party chose a leader from the grassroots, and it is about time your caucus members support that choice.

One of the reasons I did not like Mulroney (and consequently stopped voting conservative) was that he was more interested in leading the country than serving it. He did not run as an MP until he was the leader of the party.

Both Chretien and Martin allowed their personal battles to damage their party and, as a result, they sold us out to the Harper party. From everything I am hearing Iggy is prepared to do the same.

If I am wrong (and I hope I am) then it is incumbent on Iggy to step forward and declare his support for the party's leader. If nothing else, I do not think you can afford another leadership convention :). I would rather you use my money to defeat Harper than to select a new leader.

Anonymous said...

I definitely agree that brick throwing is the last thing that will help here Jeff.
There is no faster way to ensure that progressives will once again be the big losers in the next election.

Anonymous said...

I have not heard rumours that Ignatieff is waiting in the wings. Where does this come from? If that is a message that is out there I agree that is very destructive for the party and for all progressives in Canada. How can we expect Canadians to get behind Dion if Ignatieff won't? I like Ignatieff so I will not believe he would do this until I see evidence.

Gayle said...

This quote comes from the CTV article on the poll

"Meanwhile, Deputy Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and his supporters are enjoying a high profile during question period, frustrating other Liberal MPs, according to Fife.

"They're saying, 'Who's the leader? Stephane Dion or Michael Ignatieff? The Liberal caucus is starting to come apart at the seams," he said."

I may have put two and two together and got 5, but I have read in other places rumours about how Iggy's team are gearing up to take over the leadership when Dion fails.

Anonymous said...

it is incumbent on Iggy to step forward and declare his support for the party's leader

He has done so numerous times. There is no "iggy is waiting in the wings". In fact, he has privately told some of his louder supporters to shut up and get behind Dion (This was back in January). A rumour started by the Conservatives seems to have perpetuated and grown within the media and now our own party.

Id also like to add that this is a two way street. When Ignatieff supporters get accused of working to plot a coup de tat (it’s happened to me), it creates as much of a divide as when other camps question Dion’s leadership abilities.

Anyways, that is my rant. You are right though, we don’t cheerleaders (ie. Cherniak) or nervous nellies. We also don’t need an election. The party needs time to rebuild, refinance and come up with a marketable sales package to Canadians. We are no where close to that point

Gayle said...

"He has done so numerous times. There is no "iggy is waiting in the wings". In fact, he has privately told some of his louder supporters to shut up and get behind Dion..."

I am glad to hear this, but I am wondering why I am hearing it here and not on the news (and I do follow the news closely). Meanwhile Fife is going on about dissention in the ranks. SOMEONE is talking to him.

Just so you know, I am not against Iggy - these are just rumours that need to be dealt with, and dealt with more effectively than in the past.

Anonymous said...

Gayle you say "they are saying". Who is they? The Media? Planting ideas about what we should think is important about Dion? This is not new. Paper Dynamite's blog gives an excellent background on just where this idea might have came from. Just because others are allowed to speak on behalf of the Liberal party does not mean Dion is not the leader.

That is Harper's idea of governing.... He speaks for everyone (though considering the far right wing ideas of most of his fellw cons I have to say I don't blame him)...all communication goes through Harper. I dislike Harper's governing style intensely so why am I supposed to want it from my Liberal leader? Who says?

Karen said...

Gayle, I wouldn't take anything Fife says seriously. The guy is extremely opinionated and conservative.

That said, I have heard Ignatieff state quite strongly that he fully supports Dion.

I'm really beginning to think that the media is stirring up a lot of nonsense that just isn't there. The comments that keep coming out about the party still being divided for instance. Call me crazy, but watching them these past couple of months, they look pretty solid and together to me.

Steve V said...

Knb brings up a good point, if you listen to Ignatieff he has nothing but praise for Dion.

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that alot of Liberals are asking themselves what have they done. You said, why not bring up Afghanastan?? Bring it up and do what?? We are there until 2009, the house voted on it remember? And, thanks to Dion and Pablo, a house vote has to be honoured. Kyoto's target dates have already been torn to shreds in every major newspaper in Canada, making Pablo and Dion's C-288 seem even more head scratching. Now, its the anti-terror sunset clause, and, when I read today a Lib-blogger calling another Lib-blogger "someone who has fallen for the Bush/Rove propoganda" because he happens to support the original bill that was drafted and tabled by the Liberals...confused yet?? Then..your defence critic craps on the most popular Candian General in decades...now you must be confused!! You now know why Mckenna, Tobin and Manley wanted as far away from this train wreck as possible. I have in my lifetime voted more Liberal than Conservative..my first vote ever was for Mr Pearson....my second was for Mr Trudeau...they all inspired me...Mr Chretien did as well...and now I'm saying to all of you, whether you like it or not...not only does Mr Dion not inspire me, he kind of scares me a bit.

Dr. Tux said...

I would consider myself a cheerleader for Dion, but not a crazy one.

I've supported Dion right from the beginning because I knew his message was right and I knew that his vision for our country - of advancing a triple bottom line - was right.

Social scientists will often talk about the need for deep and significant institutional change in order to become sustainable and just. The language of a triple bottom line and the Next Industrial Revolution are at the forefront of this needed institutional change. I've known this for quite some time, and when the leader of a political party started to pick it up and advance it, I pounced on the opportunity.

I agree that we need to get off the "environment and environment only" message. We need to come back to the three pillar approach and we need to show how this constrasts with Harper's leadership and vision of our country. We need to show how Harper's shallow vision and leadership isn't right for Canada.

We can do this, but it will take a lot of work. I'm personally willing to put in the work, even if no one recognizes it.

I believe strongly in this vision (triple bottom line) for our country and its mechanisms of government. This is why I initially supported Dion.

Dr. Tux said...

Oh yes, about Iggy waiting in the wings...

If you've noticed in Question Period, the Reform/Alliance party often claps when Iggy stands up. They are the ones who are trying to split the party. They are the ones trying to keep the party divided.

Anonymous said...

Actually "Iggy" has improved and is learning rapidly and is handling things extremely well. So much so that some of the pundits have remarked on it. Let's get over this petty,useless Iggy nonsense.

It's another form of party division and unhealthy.

The Liberals haven't even come out with their new policy package and everyone's jumping on Dion.

A little patiencew would help and I think Dion has to bring out the personal side of himself more. From what I've read he's a much more interesting person than Harper.

Anonymous said...

"Multiple" means many, many, many. Two is multiple.

Some stupid people out there. Spin on copying the limited conservative spin.

They dare not tell the truth so rely on the old "tell an untruth so often it is perceived as a truth".

Anonymous said...

The "rumour" that Iggy is waiting in the wings" was "planted by Harper" - I saw him do it in QP.

He loves using the Stalin method (he reads Stalin) of pitting on against the other and the Liberals shouldn't let him get away with it.

Dr. Tux said...

It would probably be useful to show that good economic policy and good environmental policy go together. That is, after all, the whole point of the triple bottom line.

Sir Nicholas Stern just released a press release criticising the current government for trying to pit economic policy against environmental policy.

Find the article here:

This is a prime example of the shallow meme's presented by this current government. We must overcome it, and with people like Sir Nicholas Stern on our side, we can.

ottlib said...

I would point out that Iggy garnered a large amount of support from the caucus and Mr. Dion not so much. Therefore, it is only logical that many of his supporters would be featured when compared to those who supported Mr. Dion.

Nothing made the MSM happier than to report on the schism between Mr. Chretien and Mr. Martin. It created alot of content and a great deal of buzz.

They miss it, so in true media fashion they have decided to invent a new one, with the enthusiastic assistance of Mr. Harper.

One thing I have learned about the media is they are not shy about letting the truth get in the way of a good story.

Dr. Tux said...


Isn't it the other way around? As in,

"the media is not shy about letting a good story stand in place of the truth"

That's the way I sees it.

Anonymous said...

Dion will be OK. He's new. We haven't seen what he can do yet, though we know he's tough and often underestimated.
Iggy on Duff today was stalwart behind Dion. Iggy won't be one of those politicians who go where the wind blows. Dion knows this and counted Iggy as his right-hand man, and rightly so IMHO.
Some military stuff: toe the line means when soldiers line up in lines. cutting the muster means skipping out on where you are supposed to be (muster=roll call).
It would be a good thing if people in general are up to snuff on military talk since that's going to be what will drive the next election. Hillier dropped his bomb.
Canadians should become aware that Canada is moving well beyond its previous peacekeeping and defender roles since the installation of this newish government.
No nervous nellie here. Nor a cheerleader.
Which brings me to remark on how many posters and even government officials use supposed feminine phrases to define where one or another candidate or leader is at.
But I guess over time, phrases like "did an Emerson" and "done like Rice" or "Bushism" will work its way into the common lexicon. However, I personally think Liberals lose a lot in translation when they use the feminine to portray certain traits which I assure you are equally found in all sexes in abundance.
Liberals must be careful how they treat and refer to 51% of the general population.
Back to the topic: Dion will come out with a platform beyond his environmental issues that will speak to the average Canadian.

Gayle said...

"Gayle you say "they are saying". Who is they? The Media? Planting ideas about what we should think is important about Dion? This is not new."

Actually, I was pretty sure I saw this on a liblog site, so I just went back and checked and there it was. There is more than one site that are dropping hints, but that said, I am cheered by what I have read above.

Unfortunately, while I believe the only real interest the media has is with selling stories, I highly doubt any of their stories come out of nothing. Harper may be doing his bit to foster this rumour, and Iggy may be doing his bit to quell it, but it is out there all the same.

I won't ask for my money back though :). I am confident that once the liberals release their platform these rumours will be seen as false. I am just jumpy because of what happened last time.

Anonymous said...

Fret none or very little.
Even if the Gayles of Canada (along with Harper and handlers et al) get all steamy dreaming of Iggy, and the Gayles and Gayless or Guy (reaching here, most likely they're paired up somehow, married... :S ) sooner or later you're going to have a run in with reality.
See you there. Will light a fire for you.