One thing is clear, the story isn't about Dion, Ignatieff, Kennedy, etc, still having outstanding leadership debts, it's that the current system doesn't work. Conservatives can smile with glee, at the prospects of former candidates needing extensions, to pay off their loans, but that partisan nonsense misses the point.
I don't want Stephane Dion, or any other MP, forced to tour the country ad nauseum, looking for handouts. I'm actually pleased that Dion has largely ignored his debt, and instead focused on his duties as leader of the party, and the opposition. While the optics might not be positive, allowing for childish gamesmanship, seems to me the country demands more of their elected officials, than having them consumed with fundraising. Would Dion's constituents be fairly treated, if they knew that his focus wasn't on issues that matter to them?
This new system was clearly put in place to handicap the Liberals, Conservatives don't even overtly deny that. On one hand, there is some rationale in taking the "fat cats" out of the equation, but the cost of a credible campaign for the leadership of a large country requires a large expenditure, an amount that isn't easily raised, no matter the small, grassroots donations. In other words, no surprise that system has lead us to this point.
Dion could have paid off his debt by now, all it would take is a national fundraising plea, a series of large dinners, etc. In the final analysis, had it been a priority, it seems reasonable to assume the job would be complete. But, at what cost? Aside from distractions, any leadership fundraising would essentially hurt the party fundraising. Hard to see how that is a positive, looking at the big picture.
The way I view this whole affair, the system is a politically driven farce, and good on the former candidates for keeping their priorities straight. About all Dion's debt tells me, paying it off was a secondary concern, trying to run a party took precedent. That isn't spin, you can quantify just how much time Dion has spent on his debt, you can demonstrate that he put the party before his personal circumstance. If that fact doesn't "look good", or give Pierre the poodle some ammunition, who cares. After all, it was only ever conceived with dubious intentions, by a party more interested in finding advantage, than developing a "fair" system.