A high-profile Dion leadership campaign worker and blogger, fed up with what he calls "incorrect," but powerful media reports, says he may force the leadership issue and move a motion to support leader Stéphane Dion at next month's first-ever council of presidents meeting of the 308 riding association presidents in Montreal.
Jason Cherniak, riding association president for Richmond Hill, Ont., said although there isn't supposed to be any vote on Mr. Dion's (Saint-Laurent-Cartierville, Que.) leadership at the meeting, he's considering putting forward the strategic motion of support.
"I personally think we should pass a motion saying that we support his leadership and I might even be proposing it, but this is something that's in the early stages and I haven't organized anything," Mr. Cherniak said in an interview. He runs his own popular blog and served as blog campaign chair for Mr. Dion's leadership campaign in the last Liberal leadership campaign.
"Media reports about challenges to Mr. Dion's leadership are incorrect. As the grassroots of the party, we need to remind everybody that we're the ones who make those decisions and we have full confidence in Stéphane Dion."
Why I will be telling my riding head to avoid this idea like the plague. I understand the sentiment, I know Jason means well, and on one level there is some appeal. However, this meeting isn't a referendum on Dion, it's supposed to be about engaging the grassroots, seeking input. Why introduce a motion on Dion's leadership? That introduction is frankly an admission of weakness, it only feeds the perception that Dion needs reassurance. Conservatives, the NDP, the Bloc, don't find it necessary to tell the leader that he should be leader, it's supposed to be a given.
If the presidents want to meet and decide to pump Dion at every turn with the media, put on a united front, then that idea may have merit. Give the perception that the party is in lockstep, a feel good meeting, without the obvious pitfalls of a formal motion on Dion. You can see some potential problems, with a quote from another riding president Ernest Lustig in the article itself:
We have a leader up there, some people like him, some don't, we still have a leader, you have to support him.... Not everybody is agreeable with every body's thoughts and the ways and means of doing things. No body's perfect, but we elected him and that's the guy we have to support,
I would describe the above as anything but a ringing endorsement of the leader. Just imagine what some of the Quebec presidents might offer on the question of Dion. In other words, why go there, why open up a process that at best reaffirms what should be obvious, at worst, opens up another chasm and more bad press? I seriously doubt anybody would actually vote against the motion, simply as a function of loyalty and the obvious optics. However, we all know Liberals love to talk, and we would surely get some juicy quotes when the subject of Dion is raised.
If all the presidents vote unanimously in support of Dion, the press yawns, it's a ten minute story. Does anyone believe they will drop the Dion narrative because of a public relations exercise? The obvious answer, what did you expect them to say. The scenario works this way, you get no real benefit from the motion passing, but on the flip side, you create the impression that Dion is weak and needs a public proclamation. You also move into the unknown, allowing opportunity for the mischievous, with an agenda. IMHO, little real reward, outside of esoteric satisfaction, plenty of potential risk= bad idea.