Thursday, September 21, 2006

Who Is Best Positioned?

The question is fluid, but at this exact moment Stephane Dion looks well positioned. Hard to tell the extent of the stop Iggy movement, but also fair to say the sentiment exists, seems to have momentum and is bound to be a factor moving forward. Rae is clearly a force, but as the moment of truth arrives one has to wonder if people truly believe he can win. Despite what the polls say, I still see Kennedy as relevant, although his campaign seems plagued by perceptions. Dion isn't without his failings, but at the same time people would be remiss not to admit he has run a strong campaign, while alienating almost no one.

From day one, the argument was put forth that the eventual winner of this race would be the person least objectionable to the majority. For a myriad of reasons, Dion looks to be that candidate. The hurdle for Dion, can he enter the convention with enough initial support to emerge as the consensus Liberal. There is no question that the Strategic Counsel poll places Dion in the center of the discussion, both substantatively and maybe more importantly appearance wise. Heading into delegate selection, the notion of the "three man race" puts Dion right where he wants to be. Dion doesn't need to come out on top, only get enough support to warrant future "growth". If Kennedy falters, Dion becomes the only real option for those with reservations about Ignatieff or Rae (Dryden maybe, but the odds are too long for real consideration).

The last couple weeks of this race have sharpened the debate, as people slowly come to grips with the fallout of this decision. This weight will only intensify on the convention floor, where I could see people move to Dion for the relative safety of his selection. The least objectionable scenario seems to be playing out right on cue. I actually like Dion's chances, today anyways :)


Anonymous said...

Dion alienated a large number of people long before the leadership race even began. You would expect someone who has been in caucus for ten years to have considerable caucus support, n'est-ce pas? But no, Dion has very little caucus support, apparently due to his supercilious manner.

Jeff said...

I agree with Anon that Dion's past could come up to bite him, as could Rae's, as could Ignatieff's. But I almost feel like the other "legitimate" candidates (although how legitimate is debatable) Dryden and Kennedy, don't really have much of one as compared to the three apparent frontrunners. I think what the party needs is someone fresh, yet experienced. Ignatieff has the freshness factor but not the experience while Dion has the experience but not really the freshness. This leaves me with Rae who I feel has the best shot at this despite lingering (though lessening) concerns about his own past.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Bob Rae is long past his best before date and though he may be experienced, perhaps his experience isn't what the party needs.

Bob Rae is only showing well because there is a network of old style Liberals running his campaign for him. They may be legendary organizers and strategists, but they represent a style of politics that the Liberal party might be better off leaving in the past.

As for Bob's experience, well, I doubt running on his record as premier would be a good strategy for him. Executives who run companies into the ground don't get second chances, let alone promotions - why should an ex-premier who nearly bankrupted Canada's largest province get a shot at PM?

The role of a leader is to set out a vision of the destination and inspire people to help us get there. Ignatieff can accomplish both. Kennedy, once he learns more about federal issues, could do the same. Dion may have vision but he lacks whatever it takes to inspire people. Rae hasn't outlined anything resembling a vision and so far he's not really lighting the fire of grassroots Liberals, even though he's good at raising cash from Bay Street lawyers and bankers.

Anonymous said...

I think your analysis is pretty accurate.

As a big L Liberal Dion is my safe harbour.

dalestreet said...

If Rae is the eventual winner, I hope the general electorate's memory isn't as selective (or creative) as anonymous's. Bob Rae may have pissed Ontarians off with photo radar and cancelling his plans for regulated provincial motor insurance, but the financial woes of this Province at that time were inherited from Peterson and Davis. Rae's government was the first to attempt to tackle the problem of the deficit. Although his "Rae Days" strategy proved unpopular with public employees, in hindsight it seemed a much more humane approach than the subsequent slash & burn policies of the Harrisites.

However, if anonymous's revisionist rememberances are representative of the public's, then I would suggest that Liberal delegates consider very carefully who that choose as their next leader (especially if the goal is to place him/her in residence at 24 Sussex Dr.).