International affairs expert Jocelyn Coulon has been handpicked by Liberal leader Stephane Dion to be the Liberal Party's candidate in the coming by-election in the riding of Outremont.
Rather than open the riding to a nomination battle, Dion served notice early on he would exercise his prerogative as a leader to personally name the candidate who would run in Outremont. Coulon's success or failure risks being seen as a litmus test for Dion's judgment and his ability to deliver ridings in his home province.
Losing a by-election in what is generally considered a safe riding for the Liberals could fuel questions about Dion's leadership. A win could help quell grumblings about his performance.
I don't like the idea of Dion circumventing the nomination process because it puts added pressure on his leadershop, the candidate is his alone. If the rank and file picked a candidate, you avoid the direct link, to a leader who's popularity is pretty much non-existent.
In making this decision, Dion furthers the "litmus test" argument, and introduces the flavor of mini-referendum on his leadership. The odds are good for the Liberals, but there is still a danger, and Dion's edict looks unnecessarily risky from here.