Friday, September 28, 2007


No, not what would Jesus do. Although that’s always a good question to consider. But no, if I were Stephane Dion at the moment I’d be asking myself, What Would Jean Chretien do? Kick some ass, that’s what the little guy from Shawinigan would do.

There were so many things I could have blogged about this morning. Like Mulroney saying Harper reminds him of Reagan (there’s a campaign ad right there), or interesting doings on the provincial front.

Instead, I’m pretty well forced to blog on the pandemonium that seems to have erupted in federal Liberal circles, which has exploded across the blogshpere over the past 24 hours. To do otherwise, as both a Liberal blogger and a long-time Dion supporter, would be just plain silly.

I won’t outline all the background of recent events, if you’re reading a political blog I’m sure you’re more than well aware. If not, Campbell Clark’s piece in the Globe outlines things well enough.

Where to start. On the Jamie Caroll incident, it seems plainly evident that one of these sides here is lying. As Campbell reports, you have two groups offering completely different accounts of the same meeting. Clearly, one of them isn’t being truthful.

I don’t know where the truth lies. But this isn’t about what Jamie did or didn’t say. More concerning to me is the fact that, whether they’re truthful or not, members of the LPC’s management committee went straight to the media with their remarks. This wasn’t some big public meeting, this was a group of 10 or so very senior party executives and strategists, and instead of taking their concerns to the leader they go straight to the media. That is unacceptable behaviour, whether the incident occurred or not, and makes their motivations highly questionable.

Also deeply concerning to me is this revelation from yesterday:

And a candidate who was set to run for the party called The Canadian Press without any prompting - saying he was asked to do so by a well-known Liberal - and announced he was no longer interested.

So “a senior Liberal” called this guy up, gave him a media call list, and told him to go publicly bash the party and the leader. When you take this, the Carroll thing, Garneau, it is impossible not to see a pattern of organization emerging. It’s too much to be coincidental. And it’s all coming from Quebec.

I don’t think this is related to leadership rivalries, I want to make that perfectly clear. But I do believe it is increasingly clear that the people that run the Quebec wing of the LPC want Dion out. Call me a conspiracy theorist, I don’t care, that’s my read and I think it’s increasingly obvious. It’s no secret that the Quebec wing has never liked Dion for a long list of reasons. It’s the old soft nationalist versus strong federalist thing.

This thing has reached a crisis point. Dion and his senior leadership team have handled things very poorly, and now the knives are coming out. This is coming to a boiling point and if he’s going to stay, if he’s going to hang-on, then he needs to start fighting, and he needs to do it today.

He needs to come out and crack the whip, and he needs to lay down the law. There’s one leader, it’s him, at you get on board or you shut the frick up. Articulate a vision, a policy direction, a plan for the election that you can dammed well now guarantee will be happening this fall, but also take change and get tough. Enough is enough.

Because without an immediate strong response, it’s all over. Dion was elected as leader of the LPC by members across all of Canada, and I don’t think this is being driven by the grassroots. It’s a narrow group of people with their own agenda, although in senior positions of power within the party, driving this thing. But the rest of the party, like me, is watching and we’re worried as hell. And if this isn’t stamped-out fast, it will spread.

I hear rumours Dion will be having a press conference today. It’s also, ironically, his 52nd birthday. He’d better give the performance of his life.

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burlivespipe said...

You called it. There's needs to be a forceful hand telling these forces to get in line, face the music that the leader of the party is here and not going anywhere.
We're apparently not good at being in opposition. There are people among our ranks -- and it usually comes from Quebec, strangely enough -- that always want to call the shots. John Turner, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin have had wars to face in the backroom and in the shadows, but the most disgusting part is that many of these people prefer to muddy the water and take it out to the streets, as though fraticide makes them look good.
It's obvious that the CONs would/did do everything in their power to fuel this and, as witnessed on Steve-V's blog, are conspicuous in their silence, enjoying the fruits of their labour.
The enemy isn't us, but we can't beat the CONs and prevent a horribly regressive government staking a long claim to Sussex Drive if we don't stop fighting among ourselves.
Here's hoping that Dion can stamp this out and quickly, because the media love these kinds of feeding frenzies, ie. see Day, Stockwell.

A Eliz. said...

I do not know what to it all the grass roots of th Quebec Liberal party to blame, or someone else?
I do know it is a mistake for Dion to be appointing people, which I am sure Marc Garneau knew all about. I am a good Liberal, but this bothers me.Dion has to pull his socks up fast.

me dere robert said...

Good post.

My recommendation: Fire Robert Fragasso on the grounds of going to the media with private information from a private meeting.

If this was a company this is what would happen.

900ft Jesus said...

Good post, I have to agree.

Graves said...

If Dion hasn't fought back already, does he have the cajones to be Liberal leader?

Jacques Beau Vert said...

Dude, there is nothing to say except you're right, you're right, you're right, you're right.

Oh, and that word verification sucks.

Jason Townsend said...

This is a bleak and depressing week. Somehow a byelection, in which one seat was in contention, and a leak about committee seats have the entire Ottawa press corps thrashing around to find new Titanic metaphors.

As you said, and Cherniak said, it's tough to see this as a leadership issue when one considers the rational interests of anyone whatsoever. I'm getting to the point where I'm starting to favour an election if only because of the party unity, unanimity and united front vis a vis the press which it would engender.

On the other hand the consequences of that could be disasterous and I have no doubt that many in the press would immediately refashion the story as "Panicked Liberals trigger suicidal election in fit of nerves over some stupid byelection." The "clarity" created by an election may just be the temptation of greener pastures if it results in pre- and mid-election intrigue and posturing instead of "hang together or hang seperately" unity.

A View From The Left said...

Brilliant post Jeff, and way more coherent then I would have been given how pissed off I am. It's way past the time that Dion should have started to tell people to get in line or go away.

Jason Hickman said...

Jeff, you probably want Tories commenting on this like you want a bag on your hip (tm. Reservoir Dogs), but if I can pry my partisan hat off for a sec - you've pretty much hit it spot-on as to what needs to be done (even if I don't think/hope Dion'll do it...).

The really interesting thing would seem to be that for the first time that I can recall, you have relatively senior Liberal folks not calling up Jane Taber and calling themselves Mr. Source of Anonville, Ontario, but rather ID'ing themselves for the record.

It isn't necessarily fatal - as I recall, Harper had to put up with some similar commentary, albeit from mostly lower-ranking folks, back in '05 - but ask Stockwell Day how much fun it is when your in-house critics start using their real names.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

People it looks like some Liberals are starting to get cold feet
for a fall election according to Toronto-area MP Bryon Wilfert. Well who can blame them ?

Any comments to this anyone ?

wilson said...

Iggy needs to be sent to the Ukraine to help out Gerard, take Coderre with him.

Dion needs to take the position,
'it's my party and I want a policy convention, a clear mandate, before going to the polls'...period.

Then the howling will stop.

Anonymous said...

Wilson "Iggy needs to be sent to the Ukraine to help out Gerard, take Coderre with him."
Funny lol:)

tdwebste said...

You definitely call it.

Something stinks in the Quebec wing. And they want to destroy Dion and don't give a shit about the Liberal Party.

Glad they are working for us and not the Conservatives???

tdwebste said...

You call it.

Something stinks in the ranks of the Quebec wing. And they want to destroy Dion and don't care about the Liberal Party.

Glad they work for us and not the Conservatives. If they did they might sabotage the Party.

Yup fire people who are discrediting the Liberal Party in the Media. Any corporation would fire the likes of Robert Fragasso. But Caroll publishing a book about the rivalry with Dion during Dion's leadership. This has made me question his abilities as an advisory.

Demosthenes said...

From what I recall of what people were saying about the convention, the Quebec wing didn't want him in the first place. They wanted (and I hate to beat on a well-tenderized horse here) Ignatieff, didn't they?

And yes, I agree with those who say that serious questions need to be asked. Not just about Carroll, who said something dumb with the expectation of privacy... but about those who continually and habitually violate that expectation. The most interesting and important revelation in Wells' book is just how horrifically damaging leakers are in the Liberal party.

I'd think the first job would be to deal with that.

(It's certainly not turfing the leader. Considering Harper was in worse straits at one point, and is now PM--despite a personality far more grating than even the most extreme right-wing fantasy about Dion--one would think the Liberals would be shooting for some stability.)