Friday, June 20, 2008

Stephane Dion: The Canadian Obama?

There was one aspect of Dion's speech yesterday which has gone entirely unnoticed, but could prove relevant. Dion specifically made reference to a new kind of politics that bridges the "right vs left" disconnect. The idea of a coalition, a different approach to politics. Sound familiar?

A minor reference, in a major speech, but one the could be a factor moving forward. I'm not for a moment suggesting Dion has the innate tools to replicate the Obama phenomenon in Canada, he clearly doesn't. That said, I would advise the Liberal leader to cultivate this argument more, because tactically it's a winner. Let's keep one thing in mind, if we are going to have a fall election, which appears likely, it will occur just as the American race is heating up, it will, in many respects, compete with the "sexy" race down south. When you consider the dominant theme, that being "change", Obama preaching a new political paradigm, it isn't hard to see how that ideal could bleed into Canada. Obama is wildly popular in Canada, any politician who can indirectly attach themselves to his thrust could enhance their chances.

Which brings us back to Dion's comments yesterday, phrasing which wasn't an accident, although quite subtle at this point. Consider the landscape ahead, and I think it pretty shrewd to frame the debate in such a way that it could draw analogues to Obama, if not in personal attributes, but within the broad strokes. Dion's best chance in ultimately selling his plan, is if he offers it up as a departure from the cynical, tell me what I want to hear, tactical considerations. When Canada is bombarded, come the fall, with talk of change, talk of breaking the old right vs left divide, Dion would be well served to continue using similar language, it just might provide indirect validation, at the perfect moment.

14 comments:

Greg said...

Dion specifically made reference to a new kind of politics that bridges the "right vs left" disconnect.

Whenever I hear a Liberal talk about "grand coalitions", I hold on to my wallet. Tight. All this is, is a pitch for people to vote Liberal (a coalition with a permanently dominant blue faction). What else is new? If Dion wants a coalition, he can bring in electoral reform. Otherwise it is just more talk.

Steve V said...

"Whenever I hear a Liberal talk about "grand coalitions", I hold on to my wallet. Tight."

Your wallet? I don't get it.

JimmE said...

Glad to see the present PM has some thoughtful comments on the Green Shift, not far off from his Kyoto is a left wing plot comments. Good to see there is at least one adult in the room.

Steve V said...

"Glad to see the present PM has some thoughtful comments on the Green Shift"

You know how PM's usually get someone else to do the pitbull stuff, so they can maintain their air of superiority? Harper is becoming unglued, which speaks to how he views this threat.

John W said...

Good point. I noted the same thing in my post on his plan. I thought the fear versus hope line really connected. He must link Harper to Bush/Cheney years, his plan to Obama even Arnold S.

Anonymous said...

In the US people want change after 8 years of Bush (who has the lowest approval ratings in US history).

Here in Canada, we are only two years into the Conservative gov't - and to the average person who doesn't follow politics all that closely, they are still a relatively new government. It's hard to be an agent of "change" when you are begging people to restore to power a party that had a total stranglehold on power from 1993 to 2006!

Ti-Guy said...

Dion has the innate tools to replicate the Obama phenomenon in Canada, he clearly doesn't.

Are you assuming we're labouring under the same problems the Americans are?

We're not, and I find these comparisons kind of distracting.

Remember...a Canadian PM is the head of government, not the head of state.

Steve V said...

"Are you assuming we're labouring under the same problems the Americans are?

We're not, and I find these comparisons kind of distracting."

Where exactly did I make that assumption? Obviously not. My point, Dion envoking some of the same language, and how that may be transferrable, as we watch the American election reach crescendo. If you don't think that could effect a fall campaign, then you demonstrate no understanding of the power of foreign media in Canada. If Canadians see a change of the guard in Washington, they might see Harper as aligned more to the past regime, Dion better suited to the new realities. It's just something to consider moving forward, why not try and take advantage of that?

Steve V said...

anon

More than agent of change, Dion can make the case that he is a different sort of politician. Dion isn't a political animal, he lacks those instincts, perferring to argue substance, which could resonate, as people grow tired of attacks and hyper-partisanship.

Anonymous said...

"...as people grow tired of attacks and hyper-partisanship."

After the acrimonious session that just ended with mud-raking scandal-mongering tactics (I don't include Bernier-Couillard which was a legitimate topic to exploit) I think it is a little late for Dion to act the statesman.

But he's better putting alternative policy forward as the government in waiting.

Steve V said...

"I think it is a little late for Dion to act the statesman."

The good news, Dion never looked comfortable in that role, this is a more natural fit. Dion is hardly written in stone at this point, and beside the rabid dog, he can't help but look like a statesman. It's all relative.

janfromthebruce said...

Ah, I think that Paul Wells had a very different presidential candidate in comparison:
"Hey, John McCain reminds me of someone... A man who can't plan, rally his troops or stay away from depressing issues. Hmmm."
http://www.macleans.ca/canada/opinions/article.jsp?content=20080618_33163_33163&page=1

Ti-Guy said...

Oh, Lord, Moonbat Jan's on the prowl...

Where exactly did I make that assumption?

You can't make an assumption.

...

You know what? I've clearly over-estimated your intelligence.

Steve V said...

"You know what? I've clearly over-estimated your intelligence."

Ti-guy, I've never made that mistake with you :)