Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dion, the politician

Yesterday's news conference was the best possible outcome for the Liberal Party of Canada, for Canadians and possibly for Stephane Dion and his family.

By announcing that he's staying on, Dion firmly put Rae, Ignatieff and Kennedy and their respective camps of supporters in their place by ending the media based leaks about whether McCallum or Goodale would be the interim leader. Having done this, Dion also told the party that he knew who had undermined his campaign - we Liberals did it to him or rather Rae, Ignatieff and Kennedy supporters did. The campaign was completely underfunded because some Liberals didn't give - choosing to wait for the next election. There was no unity, only platitudes, even though Dion had worked to unite the caucus by giving them all a meaningful role immediately after the leadership. They chose not to do the work assigned to them by the leader for the good of the party and the country. They sat on their hands waiting for the next chance. To me, this illustrates their lack of character and integrity.

In that news conference, Dion acknowledged that he knows why he lost and this should be a wake-up call to the party. Dion knows that Liberals supporting different camps chose not to fund the party under his leadership. Sure it was the Conservative vitrolic ad campaign but it was our collectively chosen inability to stand up and fight on Dion's behalf with a counter-campaign funded by our enthusiasm for him and his ideas. We allowed the Conservatives to destroy our leader. We allowed the Conservatives to destroy the most valuable asset we had - a leader with ideas, integrity and passion.

I'm uncertain what tact Dion's campaign to prepare the party for the next leader will take but I am certain that Dion will commit himself to the job with more heart and soul than his competitors gave in this campaign. This alone should automatically disqualify any of them from running because their self-serving will soon make the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada a prize not worth seeking. Canadians are not fools, they will see through any power-seeking games that have no principle or platform to legitimize them.

A clean slate of new candidates is the only way forward, in my opinion. A new way of electing the leader would be an even better way forward but alas, the ex-officios ruined that when they chose to break from their smoozefests to attend one fifteen minute segment of the policy convention in Montreal to vote down the one member-one vote proposal. Sadly, we are led by unelected power mongers behind the scenes, the same ones Martin enslaved us with not only nationally but in every single riding across the nation and who have each now found a new home in a different camp to use the manipulative techniques they acquired working for Martin. Due to the rancid Electoral Readiness process, we have a new crop of ex-officios all beholding to one faction or another.

The Liberal Party of Canada as it stands now does not serve Canada, it serves its own various factions. The grassroots at the convention saw a brief glimmer of hope and we snatched it. But the warring ex-officios and power brokers have broken our dream. It seems, we didn't deserve a leader like Dion, a man with too much integrity for the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberal brand could not tolerate a leader with ideas and integrity. The Canadian people wanted to vote Liberal and we prevented them from doing so. The Canadian people wanted to choose integrity and we hid it from them.

I secretly pander for a moment of Harper weakness in which he brings forth a crime bill under confidence vote which 70+% of the country could not abide and we are forced to beg Dion to lead us. We hardly deserve it but I hope he says yes.

PS. Just so any bias I might have in this mess is recognized. I chose to go to the convention for the experience. I wanted to participate in the renewal of the Liberal Party, I wanted to see the Red Ribbon stuff actually happen after a new leader was chosen.

In order to prepare myself for delegate election, I called more than 60 local members and tallied their results to decide who I would support. I then called all those members back to tell them that the majority said I should support Bob Rae with Stephane Dion in second place by every single member. Then I went to see the debate in London and Bob Rae was the strongest performer that night. I watched televised debates. In addition, our former MP called to find out who I would support and it turned out we were planning to be on the same team. A happy coincidence but I wouldn't have changed my mind under pressure at that point.

I was selected by the local membership as a delegate for Bob Rae and I moved to Stephane Dion on the fourth ballot in accordance with the wishes of members who had chosen me as a delegate. I did this with enthusiasm because Stephane Dion had won me over completely.

As for giving to the campaign. I gave more than I've ever given in any year but alas I couldn't reach the maximum because I live on a small salary. I can however say with confidence that I gave til it hurt.

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