He's had the job for a couple months, so how is Stephane Dion doing? My overall assessment would be good to quite good, a B+.
Uniting the party is a key requirement, coming out of a leadership campaign. Dion has done an excellent job integrating the various factions and presenting a united front. Everyone seems to be rowing in the same direction, the sense of team pronounced. It's hard to find any fault with Dion's outreach, there is little animosity in the leadership aftermath, which is impressive.
What has particularly impressed me about Dion, his relationship with the media. Dion has made himself available, even to potentially hostile entities like Alberta online radio. I have been pleasantly surprised with Dion's ease and candor during television interviews, he has developed a good, honorable discussion with the media. The worry about Dion, that he can be crusty and arrogant, doesn't seem to have manifested itself at all. In fact, Dion looks charming and mostly engaging. In the long run, Dion's open approach to the media should serve him well, especially when compared to Harper's paranoia. You can't bypass the media, despite the intentions.
One measure on how someone is doing, the reaction of the opposition. The Tory attack ads tell me that, objectively, Dion is doing well. The unprecedented campaign denotes concern, which is a credit to Dion's performance. Dion's response to Tory attacks on the environment have been pointed, and he always looks credible when he discusses this topic, despite the obvious failures. I was always worried about Dion's environmental record, but his knowledge on the subject tends to fill the holes, there is no question his passion and conviction come through in interviews.
Another pleasant surprise, while Dion hasn't taken Quebec by storm, he has raised the Liberal fortunes, and all indications are Quebecers are willing to give Dion a chance. At this point, that overall position is all that Dion could hope for, now his policies will decide his fate. Another worry of mine, that Dion would be tuned out, the negatives too high, doesn't seem to be a real factor in Quebec.
As far as missteps, the only real one so far, Dion's confusing response to allowing disgraced sponsorship figures back into the Liberal Party. Dion clarified, but it allowed the Tories to bring out their favorite attack line. Dion needs to be firm and forget about being the good Liberal that caters to the insider mentality. Maybe some Liberals think the punishments are too harsh, but Canadians clearly don't have any time for that consideration. Dion needs to balance his pride with the past Liberal record, with the perceptions of Canadians. As we move forward, the less we hear of Chretien and Martin, the better. Important to show Dion as the man of the future, not the old warrior that is hurt through associations.
One criticism, I haven't been impressed with Dion in the House of Commons so far. The questions are posed in such a way that allows easy rebuttal, and I don't think Dion has been particularly strong. In fact, the government has largely gotten the better of Dion to date. It's only been a week, so it is silly to draw any concrete conclusions, but Dion doesn't look like a natural within this forum. Maybe Dion is just too cerebral for the juvenile gotcha game that Parliament often degenerates into too.
Overall, I don't see how anyone could argue Dion has been a failure, and I don't think it too partisan to characterize his early reign as largely successful.