Monday, July 23, 2007

Dion's "Star" In Trouble?

When Dion hand-picked Jocelyn Coulon for the Outremont riding by-election, there were vague references to his considerable paper trail, and the potential that his writings could become an issue. I would consider this development, a major issue, given the riding demographic:
B'Nai Brith Canada has asked Liberal Leader St├ęphane Dion to remove new star candidate Jocelyn Coulon from an upcoming byelection in Montreal's Outremont riding because of his past stance on Israel.

The Jewish organization says Coulon, a political scientist and former journalist, has a "well-documented anti-Israel bias," including sympathy for Hamas, that is "out of step with current Liberal policy," according to a statement released by the group.

B'nai Brith hopes Coulon's documented position on Israel will disqualify him from the byelection.

Outremont is a multi-ethnic riding nestled along Mont Royal's northern slope, and is home to a significant Jewish population, including a large portion of Montreal's Hasidic community.

Coulon said he has no anti-Israel bias, but strongly believes in criticism and debate. "I am a true ally of Israel," he said on Monday. "Sometimes I'm very critical, that's for sure, but I think that makes good allies."

Too immediately come out so strongly, you have to assume that B'nai Brith will actively campaign against Coulon. I don't claim any knowledge of Coulon's views, but he seems to have made a powerful enemy, in a riding with a sizeable Jewish vote. The sky isn't falling, but this isn't the way a campaign is supposed to get off the ground. I'm curious to the vetting process, because Dion's personal endorsement makes him an extension of Coulon's views.

48 comments:

Dennis (Second Thoughts) said...

Never mind Dion's "Star" in trouble. Dion could be in trouble as a result of this potential oversight.

Dion undemocratically handpicked Coulon in a riding that could well be very competitive. In fact, because so much is on the line for Dion, he felt it necessary to forego democracy in pursuit of someone he thought could improve his leadership standing with a strong win.

Dion seems to have a habit of making one move after another without thought of some of the deeper issues involved.

We haven't seen that from a national political leader since Stockwell Day.

Steve V said...

dennis

I've actually expressed the same concern about "handpicked" in another post, although quite a stretch use the Stock Day analogy.

BTW, I wouldn't get too uppity about "forego democracy" given our current PM's behavior. Why isn't Fortier running?

Dan McKenzie said...

I suspect we'll be seeing some other Jewish people speaking up with quite a different view.

And at least we're not talking about Thomas Mulcair any more.

Doz said...

Jocelyn Coulin could have no better endorsement than to be condemned by the racist Zionist shills who currently control B'nai Brith. Their statements should be prominently featured in her campaign literature. Very few Canadian Liberals park their liberalism at the border of Israel/Palestine. The systematic, incremental ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian Arabs is not something we should tolerate, let alone endorse with out choice of candidates. Instead B'nai Brith should be challenged to live up to the anti-racist views that were once its trademark.

ps Re Jocelyn, it's "her" considerable..., not "his"considerable... .

Steve V said...

doz

I never said I agreed, merely a comment on controversy, in a riding where it just might matter.

Danick said...

Coulon is not anti-Israel... and it's a staunch ally of Israel saying it (me). To accuse him of being anti-Israel is purely wrong and does noting to help the cause of Israel. I’m starting to question: Can we even debate and ask questions without being accused of being anti-Israel? The guy is a brilliant academic, well respected and to flush him like that is purely wrong! In some parts of Israel he would be well respected... but here I see that he is being accused and declared guilty. It makes me think of the way Ignatieff was bumped. If some can't vote Coulon are they going to fall into the arms of Thomas Mulcair of the NDP. It would be soooo unfortunate... given the NDP’s stance on such issues! Dion and Coulon deserves our support and I will support Coulon has I believe he is a well-respected Francophone academic and a capable candidate to carry the riding and become a positive addition to the Liberal Caucus.

Danick said...

Coulon is a man not a woman!

mezba said...

When did bias towards Israel become a "liberal" policy?

As far as I knew, the official Liberal policy was that Hamas is a terro rist organization, and we must support democracy in the region. It says nothing that we have to support Israel on each and every issue in the middle east. Indeed, during last year's conflict between Lebanon and Israel, many Liberals were against the military strikes on Lebanon.

thanks doz for that stellar contribution said...

Um, no - Jocelyn is a "him", not a "her", Doz.

Anonymous said...

Bnai Brith is a Toronto Tory organization. It has no sway in Montreal and certainly not in Outremont.

Frank Dimant, National Director of Bnai Brith had his son Ari working in Stockwell Day's office.

Dimant's family on the payroll of the Tories might explain yet another anti-Liberal press release from Bnai Brith.

knb said...

Steve, in this case, it's not about Dion, or Coulon or the Liberal Party, for me, for that matter.

I wrote on this story too, but I am sick and tired of groups hi-jacking, without fact, the moral high ground on such issues.

B'Nai Brith is wrong on this one and I'm sad that this has happened.

Doz said...

re Jocelyn Coulin's sex. That's what comes of trusting the Ontario media to get the details right. My apologies to all.

Steve V said...

knb

I'm sick of "hijacking" too, because interest groups focus on narrow points in the grand scheme. Do you remember when the news of Coulon first broke, there was a vague reference to his extensive writings and potential controversy. My main caution, you know that people are POURING over everything (Montreal radio shows), so I wonder if Coulon was properly vetted. My point isn't legitimacy of controversy, just the idea itself, which as we all know can derail the best intentions. Not right, but sadly reality at the moment. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming days.

Anonymous said...

You might be sick and tired of grouops "highjacking". What I am sick and tired of is Liberal hacks who are apologists for terrosits sympathizers.

Coulon said we should embrace Hamas. Sorry that is wrong!!! Stephane Dion says its wrong and so does the Liberal PArty.

Coulon better change his tune quickly!

Steve V said...

That commie, terrorist sympathizer Colin Powell wants to engage(h/t Tarheel). Interesting, because it shows reasonable people can opine, even though people like anon want to get hysterical.

Steve V said...

Just one more point. People like anon are a good example of why this issue is a problem. It is not a problem intellectually, but politically, because it allows for obnoxious rhetoric that elevates and enflames. Right or wrong is irrelevant, because as we all know, this discussion is often COMPLETELY irrational.

knb said...

Perhaps it's reality Steve, but maybe it's time it was challenged.

I'm so tired of this dumbed down debate. It is time, imo, to raise the bar.

Risky? Obviously, though this man poses no risk. So, it is time to fight back.

Retreat gives them more ground and I for one am not prepared to cede it.

Steve V said...

Maybe it is :)

knb said...

Let them flap their wings to no consequence you mean? To our gain?

Maybe.

I'd still like to see an adult debate.

Steve V said...

To clarify, I meant maybe it was time to challenge, and have an adult debate. You can't reduce one of the most complex situations into soundbites. It was only until Harper started the wedge that it was somehow wrong to suggest anything that didn't fall into the black and white category.

Anonymous said...

who gives a shit what the jews want, they should concertrate on getting what they can from germany, like the grandchildren suing compagnies for stress because of what they had to endure when they listen to their grandparents talk about what they went through, I had no opinion about the jews negative or positive until I really started to look how much influence they have in american politics and how much they screwed up that once great country, I dont want this to happen here, in Canada everybody is the same and no one is above the others..

SouthernOntarioan said...

Steve, do you seriously believe that the entire black and white, 'with Israel or against them' only began with Stephen Harper?

Liberals, Tories, same old story. They've all been doing the same thing for years. The Liberals demonized (and still do) anyone who didn't/doesn't support SSM, abortion, etc..

Different topics, same strategies.

Dan McKenzie said...

"Coulon said we should embrace Hamas. "

Please show us all where he said that.

Steve V said...

"Steve, do you seriously believe that the entire black and white, 'with Israel or against them' only began with Stephen Harper?"

No, but Harper seems to have an affinity for simplistic logic, that doesn't recognize shades of gray.

Anonymous said...

I really have no interest in hearing the complaints or for that matter the endorsments of ANY group which is more concerned about a foreign nation than they are about the country they live in.

I hear a lot of the "you're either with us or against us" mentality in many statements coming out of groups like B'nai Brith and that annoys me in its Bushness.

There is also the ever present threat of declaring someone an Anti Semite if they should dare to question the actions of Isreal. People can choose the side of reason and peace and quite easily disagree with both Isreal and Hamas.

Free thought/speach and hate mongering are two distinctly different things and Canadian law not a lobby group should be deciding which is which.

B'nai Brith should be watched closely and sued if they cross the line to slander/liable.

Isreali news is much more questioning, reflective and cutting than anything you would hear in North America about Isreal all because of the threat of being labeled.

It's so prevalent that I'm surprised that anyone would even post about Isreal using their real id.

Scotian said...

I have to agree with anon at 8:13 AM, July 24, 2007. I have real problems with those that clearly are primarily concerned with the issues in a foreign country in how they vote for domestic politicians in this country. Israel is not Canada, this man is running for a Canadian federal political seat and not an Israeli one, and this is the same sort of approach of making any criticism of Israeli government actions verboten/proof of anti-Semitism by any political candidate that led to the dominance of American foreign policy in favour of all things Israel. I judge whether a Canadian politician is fit by how they deal with Canadian issues, not those of other nations. B'Nai Brith is acting as a political actor in our domestic politics as a lobbyist for a foreign nation with this sort of behaviour, and I find that at least as offensive as their claims of being offended by this candidate.

Olaf said...

Steve,

BTW, I wouldn't get too uppity about "forego democracy" given our current PM's behavior. Why isn't Fortier running?

Weak. You constantly (and rightly, I think) censure the Tories for their feeble "yea, but the Liberal's are worse" talking point, and yet you have no qualms using it yourself. I think Dennis' comments are legitimate regardless of Harper's behaviour, which is at best incidental to Dion's.

Also, as a side note, how does Dion hope to achieve his 1/3 female quota if he keeps on spending his legitimacy getting male candidates into (relatively) safe ridings? Rae, Kennedy,Coulon.

Sorry, I know this is off topic (feel free to ignore), but it seems to me that there's only a certain amount of democratic capital that a party leader can spend before the troops get antsy, and if Dion doesn't start using whatever he has left on female candidates, I'm not sure how he hopes to fulfil that promise. Perhaps he has no intention to do so.

Steve V said...

"Weak. You constantly (and rightly, I think) censure the Tories for their feeble "yea, but the Liberal's are worse" talking point, and yet you have no qualms using it yourself."

Oh bull. Why isn't Fortier running in this by-election? You can't make a "undemocratically handpicked" comment about the Liberals, when you have a "undemocratically handpicked" minister in your government, who now has a opportunity for legitimacy, but takes a pass. The co-relation is STRONG :)

It is also ironic that I'm accused of a double standard, in a post that your blogging tory friends have linked too, as evidence of my lack of "partisanship". You can't win apparently.

ottlib said...

Steve:

Your question assumes that Jews are monolithic in their thinking towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Or specifically, you assume that a majority of Jews think like B'nai Brith.

If that were the case then the Liberals would have lost the Jewish vote many years ago because of the balanced approach that they have taken since Trudeau.

There are some Jews that will not vote Liberal but for the most part they probably did not anyway.

By and large however, the Jewish folks of Montreal are an enlightened people who temper their support for Israel with other concerns, unlike the single issue lobby organization that is B'nai Brith.

Steve V said...

Isn't this timely to the double-standard discussion:

The Conservative Party of Canada is putting its faith in a former diplomat to run in a federal byelection in the Montreal riding of Outremont.
A Conservative party official says the party is set to announce Gilles Duguay, a former ambassador such countries as Morocco and Cameroon, as its candidate during a news conference on Wednesday.

Too perfect.

Steve V said...

ottlib

I'm not assuming anything of the sort. My commentary is merely the idea of controversy surrounding our candidate. I am of the view that the Liberals win if the campaign is uneventful. If there is turmoil and controversy, it could be damaging. All you have to do is ask yourself one question today- are NDP strategists in Quebec happy or unhappy about these developments? The answer is my only point, not the substance of the narrow views of a interest group.

Olaf said...

Steve,

Oh bull. Why isn't Fortier running in this by-election? You can't make a "undemocratically handpicked" comment about the Liberals, when you have a "undemocratically handpicked" minister in your government, who now has a opportunity for legitimacy, but takes a pass. The co-relation is STRONG :)


In "your government"? Whose government? Mine? Dennis'? I think he's non-partisan, and even if he weren't, he wouldn't have much sway over Harper, nor does that excludes him from criticizing the Liberals on a post about the Liberals, does it? At least no more than it excludes Liberals from criticizing Harper on the environment, ne pas?

It's the "the other guy is worse" line that you've consistently chided the Tories for. Just saying is all.

It is also ironic that I'm accused of a double standard, in a post that your blogging Tory friends have linked too, as evidence of my lack of "partisanship". You can't win apparently.

No, you can't. And I'm not criticizing your post, just your response to Dennis' rather reasonable comment. Perhaps you had to hold back your partisanship for so long in writing this post that it had to be released at the very next opportunity. :)

Olaf said...

Steve,

I don't get your point about Duguay. Please spell it out for me as if I were a small child.

Steve V said...

Isn't this a "handpicked" candidate? GET IT :)

Steve V said...

"Perhaps you had to hold back your partisanship for so long in writing this post that it had to be released at the very next opportunity. :)"

LOL. I assumed dennis is a Tory, given his comments.

Olaf said...

Steve,

Isn't this a "handpicked" candidate? GET IT :)

Hold on... I think I... almost there.... YES! I DO get it!!!

And yes, it seems to be a handpicked candidate - now, all you need is to find someone who said the Liberals should never have "handpicked" candidates, or that Coulon was illegitimate due to undemocratic nature of his handpickedness, while also suggesting that the Conservatives should be able to, cheering Duguay's handpicking as perfectly legitimate and in keeping with the principles of democracy, and you'd have a pretty clear cut case for a double standard prosecution.

But, I warn you, don't fall into the Canadian Cynic logical fallacy, which works out as follows: find one "conservative" who said something, then another unrelated "conservative" who said something else, and then combine the two identities as if they were one in order to claim hypocrisy.

Steve V said...

"Hold on... I think I... almost there.... YES! I DO get it!!!"

How is that LSAT going? :)

Frank Frink said...

Additonal note to ottlib's comment about Jewish Montreal and Israel. Montreal also has the second largest Hasidic community in North America, a community that is largely anti-Zionist. That community also largely resides within Outremont (and Mile-End).

Just something else to consider.

Dan McKenzie said...

"Also, as a side note, how does Dion hope to achieve his 1/3 female quota if he keeps on spending his legitimacy getting male candidates into (relatively) safe ridings? Rae, Kennedy,Coulon.

Sorry, I know this is off topic (feel free to ignore), but it seems to me that there's only a certain amount of democratic capital that a party leader can spend before the troops get antsy, and if Dion doesn't start using whatever he has left on female candidates, I'm not sure how he hopes to fulfil that promise. Perhaps he has no intention to do so."

Dion's going to reach 33% with or without female appointments. And a couple weeks ago Linda Julien said they would be making female appointments in addition to Martha Hall Findlay.

Oh and Dennis might not technically be a Tory, but he's certainly a right-wing hack.

Olaf said...

Dan,

Dion's going to reach 33% with or without female appointments.

That's the spirit!!!

Olaf said...

Steve,

How is that LSAT going?

Fantastic! After much pleading and a rather sizable financial donation, I have been accepted to study at the prestegious North West Nunavut College for the Blind Law School! Or, the NWNCBLS, as you might know it.

Steve V said...

Congrats! Your family must be proud.

Dan McKenzie said...

"That's the spirit!!!"

Huh?

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from Bnai Brith?

Their National Director is Frank Dimant. Dimant's son, Ari Dimant,has been on the payroll of Stockwell Day.

Is it any wonder that Bnai Brith is constantly issuing anti-Liberal and pro-Tory comuniques??

Perhaps its time for Bnai Brith members to call for an internal invetigation into the Dimant's family fiancial ties to Stockwell Day.

Olaf said...

Dan,

Huh?

Whaaa?

Nick said...

B'Nai Brith should be publicly chastised for interfering in the democratic process. If they wish they can campaign for another candidate but to see them publicly try to have a candidate removed fromt the ballot makes me wonder what kinds of inappropriate influence they try to exert behind the scenes. Perhaps we should all have to take a test before we vote to ensure that our views make us acceptable voters.

ottlib said...

steve:

The NDP is not a force in Quebec so their opinions of any controversy is irrelevant.

It should be noted that we have seen at least two polls released following the announcement of Mr. Mulclair's candidacy. The NDP has not increased its support in that province.

Currently, the NDP is sitting at around 10-12%, +/- an MOE of around 6%, in Quebec, and conventional wisdom states that their support is mainly in Montreal.

The Liberals are sitting around 22-24% (again with a large MOE) and the same conventional wisdom states that most of it is in Montreal. So the Dippers would have a problem winning this seat even if all of their support turned out to be in Outrement, which of course it is not.

The Conservatives have never done well in Outrement, even during the Mulroney landslide of 1984 and the Bloc is a non-entity in that riding.

I have said it once and I will say it again. If the Liberals can comfortably win that seat running a reformed separatist during the worst political scandal to hit the Liberals in its history, they should not have too many problems this time.

That is not to say it will be a cake walk and that the Liberals will not have to put together a good campaign. However, if they can put together a reasonably competent campaign they will not have any problems.

SouthernOntarioan said...

I can't see most of the by-elections being too interesting to watch. There are some where if 'x' party gets a 'star' candidate and prays really hard they 'might' stand a chance to win it.