Monday, May 09, 2011

Interim Leader

Apparently, it was decided a couple hours after the election defeat, that we MUST have an interim leader by Wednesday of this week. I'm not sure who determined that caucus must make that decision this week, nor have I seen it written in tablet form. An interesting suggestion, proposed by Liberal Leslie Swartman was to delay the interim leader until the summer. Some merit here, we only have a token Parliamentary session forthcoming before the summer break, plus everything seems to be moving a bit to fast for a lot of Liberals. I made the point that it isn't imperative to have an interim leader 9 days into a 1460 day, minimum process towards the next election. I think it is worth considering simply delaying naming any interim leader until everyone has the opportunity to digest, rather than jumping into another decision that will have lasting ramifications.

However, assuming our caucus does pick a interim leader Wednesday, I'd like to explore Stephane Dion as a possible pick. I mentioned Dion a few days ago on twitter, which solicited some support as well as smart ass responses. I note that Kinsella is also floating Dion as possible interim. I think Dion is an attractive option, for a number of reasons.

With the devastating result last week, Dion is strangely rehabiliated, no longer the leader who brought our "worst defeat", but now part of a process that was obviously much larger and corrosive. The decline began before Dion and continued on after him, so the blame game has caused some revision, and within that Dion can be seen in possibly a different. Some people have used vindicated, but I prefer better understood. Dion as leader again would have seemed absurd a few months ago, but now I sense a different atmosphere.

Dion is bilingual, while old guard in Quebec, he does enjoy core respect and the fact he retained his seat, despite the "wave" speaks to his stature. Dion is an honorable, honest man, nobody has ever disputed this fact. Dion is also devoid of future ambitions, as a caretaker ego not an issue, nor any distractions, other than leading during this transition. Dion also has experience, he's lead a caucus, he's lead a party, he understands the party beyond caucus.

I'm not sure Dion is the perfect choice, people will point to baggage and other issues. However, if I'm thinking seriously about what is best for the party in this intermediate period, who I would trust to tend to the party while we get our shit together, who would act with grace and class, I'm not ruling out Stephane Dion at all. Liberals could do a lot worse at the moment.

UPDATE

Via twitter:

SusanDelacourt

#LPC president Alf Apps says there will be NO interim leader chosen this week -- next week soonest. Someone should tell Chretien. #cdnpoli

Good!

42 comments:

Marc Bernard said...

I can see the attack ads already: "Not an interim leader!"

Steve V said...

Ha! Check out my twitter feed on the right column :)

Fat Arse said...

While I hold a great deal of respect for Mr. Dion, I have to differ with you on this one.

I believe poor DION has suffered enough at the hands of both LPC insiders & the media. He is, wrongly viewed throughout much of Canada as weak. Believe it would be better to put a westerner like Ralph in the role for now - if for no other reason than to counter all the CPC prairie voices who will, in short order, be all over the news.

If it is true, as Coyne & others assert that the new CPC majority is anchored in both Ontario & West then maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't hurt for LPC to have an interim leader from the west?

I could be wrong. But I think it's worth a try. Especially given that abolition of the CWB is high on new CPC agenda.

Steve V said...

Arse

I'm not married to the idea of Dion, just thinking out loud really. As for a western interim leader, that's some slim pickins.

Kirk said...

I can see the advantages of picking Dion to highlight the hollow wave of hysteria that developed against him in many quarters but I don't think it will be cause the scales to fall from the eyes of those who foamed at the mouth over the "Carbon Tax" etc. I think it will just revive their hollow hysteria.

I see your points on how internally to the Liberal party he would be a good choice.

Now who are the other choices? The Liberals don't need to make this choice by Wednesday but do need to do so before parliament sits again if they want to be seen as back in the "game".

With Layton's latest ramblings on extending French language rights in Quebec I fear that the NDP will be shaking lose some support outside of QC very soon and we need to position ourselves to pick up some of that support. The faster Layton screws up, the less time we'll have to focus on internal Liberal issues, unfortunately.

Steve V said...

"The Liberals don't need to make this choice by Wednesday but do need to do so before parliament sits again if they want to be seen as back in the "game".

Really? I mean, Parliament will only sit for a few weeks max, plus does it really matter in the grand scheme if we have a lame duck leader to show Canadians?

Part of my calculation, Liberals aren't on anyone's radar right now, nor will they be for some time. Even if we delay leadership for two years, within a year that question, candidates will start to dominate the Liberal discussion. With that in mind, the interim leader is really just a caretaker, so all I want is someone with no ambitions, able to speak both languages and conduct themselves with honour and has the Liberals best interest at heart.

One caveat I've heard elsewhere, and it's valid, Dion wasn't exactly stellar in QP, so that's a consideration I suppose.

Shay's Corner said...

I like Stephan Dion, but this would be too easy for Harper - however, Harper may just be distracted enough with the official opposition Lame Jack long enough to not even notice Dion in the far corner... so this might work

Steve V said...

The Liberals are an afterthought for a while now, and we can use the obscurity to our advantage. I love the wilderness, it's fresh, untainted and good for the soul!

Tof KW said...

Marc, Ralph Goodale would be an awesome interim leader for the Liberals, except that he isn't bilingual. This is an important consideration now, as any hopes of the Grits rebuilding has to come from rejuvenating the party in Quebec.

The one thing that the Libs can thank the NDP for is destroying the Bloc. This at least helps put all 75 Quebec seats into play again.

Rebuilding in the west is way more work, in fact I don't know where the Libs can even begin here. They already apologized for the NEP under Chretien and promised to never do it again, yet the west still doesn't forgive the Grits. Even if the Harper government became the most corrupt government ever, the west will just create another prairie populist party rather than vote Liberal. Ya, they're stubborn that way.

Fat Arse said...

Steve, another aspect to consider is that with Jack & the NDP facing the immediate task of herding their new Quebec MP's - it may be best if the LPC left it alone & did not appoint a interim leader with a Quebec profile. Let events take their course among the new NDP Quebecers. Allow interim LPC leader to focus on other things. Let us not allow early partisan bickering between LPC & NDP to devolve into a Quebec-centered morass; after all that is exactly was Soudas & Co are hoping for!

Steve V said...

Arse

I'm with KW on the Quebec question, we can't afford any lapse there, we need a leader that can speak. Bilingual is imperative, so that limits our choices.

I'd add, I see no ideal choice to be honest, every person has negatives here.

Steve V said...

I'm also fine with Rae if he agrees to not run for the big chair and states he won't seek a merger, which seems a mute point at this stage now. Rae is bilingual, he is well liked in Quebec, he's an amazing orator, he has many attractive qualities.

Fat Arse said...

Steve,

Completely agree that next elected LPC leader need be bilingual. But having an interim leader is different. Whether they can speak French or not is important for the few months they will be in job. It will not cost immediate votes and will allow for different approach.

BTW, Garneau would be a logical good fit for interim... but I hope, really hope, he opts to run for leader.

Steve V said...

If we pick someone who can't speak French, it sends a very strong signal to Quebecers and you can expect a rash of unflattering coverage in the province. I really, really think that is a bad idea.

I like Garneau, he'll be important moving forward.

Kirk said...

Steve, you might be right about the Liberals not being on anyone's radar but I doubt it. The NDP knows that the Liberals are the source of any vote gain so why would they wait to move on that? Harper is not a generous man so why would he wait to completely finish the Liberals and consolidate his position opposite a left wing perpetual Opposition?

Also if I'm wrong about needing a interim leader for the opening in Parliament, what's the harm? If I'm right then we will be left out of political developments that will affect our future.

There are 34 possible candidates. It won't take months to sort through them. I think the month between now and the opening of the House is long enough to choose a "lame duck leader"?

Kirk said...

The other party's have no interest in the Liberals reviving themselves.

Their most advantageous course is the "finish 'em" when they're down.

Certainly Layton can't do anything about Harper and Harper is not worried about Layton. Layton got him his majority by shifting "blue" Liberals to the Cons.

The Liberals are an easy target, I don't expect them to be left alone and the media will follow that lead as it's a better story than a re-introduced budget or an omnibus bill of old crime legislation.

The final death of the Liberal Party! That's the only story outside of Layton's balancing act once the media is done flogging those young MPs.

sharonapple88 said...

A recent article on Dion in Macleans.

Make of this what you will, in the puppet sales during Dec 2010, Dion was more popular than Ignatieff (Layton and Haper were hits. We should keep an eye on this. ;) )

As for leadership, if French wasn't an issue, no question, it should be Ralph Goodale.

Throwing out other possibilities... What about Scott Brison? He speaks French. He's good with quotes. He's pulled out of the leadership race.

Steve V said...

I don't think so, you can already see the media focusing on the NDP more than in the past. It's also a majority, federal politics are on nobody's radar, and what pundits and political panels discuss is beyond irrelevant, absolutely no resonance with the public.

I agree the Cons and NDP may want to try and finish the Libs off, and I expect the NDP to slowly move to the center. I don't Dion has any bearing one way or another in this regard, relative to someone else.

Steve V said...

Interesting:


SusanDelacourt

#LPC president Alf Apps says there will be NO interim leader chosen this week -- next week soonest. Someone should tell Chretien. #cdnpoli

A Eliz. said...

No former leader should tell us what to do..I admire Chretien, but that was then..I like Mark Garneau and if you put an honest Dion there ,they will be at him again, over and over...Bob Rae too..' what he did, while in Ontario'

sharonapple88 said...

I agree the Cons and NDP may want to try and finish the Libs off, and I expect the NDP to slowly move to the center.

Slowly but surely the NDP is heading in that direction. James Laxer, former Waffle leader, argues that the move to the centre have been happening for years.

Tof KW said...

Kirk said...
Harper is not a generous man so why would he wait to completely finish the Liberals and consolidate his position opposite a left wing perpetual Opposition?

In the end, I think a united NDP-LPC is what the CPC wants as they feel a centre-right party will win government more often than a centre-left party, especially if the NDPers are the main drivers of the united left (like how Reform is the main driver of the CPC).

But in the short term, a united centre-left party would actually do more harm to Harper than good in 2015. In that light, watch for the Liberals to become Harper's new best friends over the course of the 41st parliament. Used of course to keep Layton from getting any more popular than he is now.

It's all about the vote-splitting don't ya know!

A Eliz. said...

It ia about time to end it all and get rid of FPTP

Omar said...

"In that light, watch for the Liberals to become Harper's new best friends over the course of the 41st parliament."

That's a double edged sword though. If there are four years of Lib/Con collusion then you can kiss mine and I believe many others, support goodbye. As far as an interim leader goes I'd like to see a woman assume that role. Are there any that remain employed?

sharonapple88 said...

"In that light, watch for the Liberals to become Harper's new best friends over the course of the 41st parliament."

That's a double edged sword though. If there are four years of Lib/Con collusion then you can kiss mine and I believe many others, support goodbye.


I don't think that the Liberals will try and cozy up to Harper as much as Harper will start treating the Liberals more seriously, and the NDP as a joke in parliament. There's no political gain for the Liberals to side with the Conservatives.

But we all know how this game is played. In the past Laxer accused the NDP of going easy on the Conservatives in 2006. With respects to the budget, the Conservatives would try and woo the NDP even complimenting them in e-mails, which is different from the way they treated the Liberals.

It should be interesting to see how this plays out. Layton's 61 years old. He'll be 65-66 at around the next election. He might be able to fight one or two more elections....

sharonapple88 said...

As far as an interim leader goes I'd like to see a woman assume that role. Are there any that remain employed?

Martha Findley Hall would have been good, but she's gone.

Steve V said...

Check this out:

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/canada-politics/star-former-liberal-leader-stephane-dion-rise-again-183824100.html

Koby said...

Dion!

His shortcomings are too numberous to count. I will limit my comments to two.

One, outside of Quebec this loss has a lot to do with Dion. The Liberals were never able to shake off talk of 2009 "coalition" that Dion put together. The Liberals were the party of national unity until Dion decided to form a non aggression pack with the Bloc. Stupid stupid stupid.

Two, while the Liberals actually did a nice job boiling down what the Green shift was. "Less on what you earn more on what you burn", the Liberals were never going to be able to explain to the public just what is "burnt" and as a result how such a shift would effect the cost of any number of goods and services. The Conservatives gave them an answer. It would be a "tax on everything". Naturally some Canadians were convinced that this was simply a tax increase in disguise. But the kicker was this. I do not care what Canadians told polling companies about climate change. No one I mean no is ever going to be excited over a tax shift. Making the central plank of his platform something that did not offer a single tangible benefit Canadians just went to show how hopeless Dion was as a politician and why he needed to be ushered out the door as soon as possible.

Jerry Prager said...

Dion. A lot of Green voters kept the remaining Liberals in office, liberals helped elect May. The man has class and integrity. And Harper will hate it.

liberazzi said...

Alfred Apps is a buffoon, & needs to resign immediately, before he causes us anymore embarrassment! First of all, this notion of changing the leadership rules arbitrarily, VOTED ON BY THE MEMBERSHIP, is a disgrace! The "adults" in the party are going to "decide" what's best for us again? At least let the EDA Presidents vote on a date after consulting their membership , before deciding on a date. Secondly, they are making up rules on the fly on how to decide an interim leader? WTF! Everyone in the party says that we need to change our ways, & then at the first opportunity they pull this shit!? Christ the media are still quoting David Smith! How'd the elxn go there Smithy boy!? Piss off! Jesus Christ Apps is on PnP, F me!

Möbius said...

Brison was poster boy for sponsorship deflection in Question Period after he defected from the Conservatives. I think this was deliberate by the Liberals, to destroy his leadership potential. So, no, in my opinion.

I like MHF. Can she be leader in the interim if she has no seat? Not sure.

Tof KW said...

Omar said...
That's a double edged sword though. If there are four years of Lib/Con collusion then you can kiss mine and I believe many others, support goodbye.

Omar, Harper has a majority, he does not want nor require the Liberals, so don't worry about collusion.

What I meant earlier was that Harper & the CPC will begin to speak nicer about the Liberals from time to time, somewhat like they did for Layton and the NDP through the 39th and 40th parliaments.

The point back then was to keep the NDP's profile stronger to bite into Liberal votes. Likewise Harper will want to play the Liberals more now to ensure all the protest votes don't go to Layton.

Watch, Harper & the CPC will make little comments like 'at least the Liberals understood the importance of maintaining a presence in Afghanistan' or 'at least the Liberals understood something about economics' and other snide remarks to keep the NDP from looking like a credible government in waiting.

Maybe not so much in the first two years, but I'm expecting to see this sort of thing in 2014-15, provided the LPC poll numbers don't break above 25%.

sharonapple88 said...

Speaking of change at the top, Shelia Fraser's retiring at the end of May.

Steve V said...

Wow.

liberazzi said...

What is the issue with selecting a new leader in October anyway? It's either going to be Leblanc, Rae or Trudeau, that's going to change in 2 years? Get the leadership out of the way & get on with making some $$$, defining who we are & start preparing for the nxt elxn. The nxt 4 years will go by fast. Set the leadership expense limits low, so the candidates dont blow their brains out like last time. Plus, conventions do what....they help the party make money & generate interest. Oh ya & lets clean a little house, buh bye Smithy boy & Apps & all the other twerps that destroyed this party.

Steve V said...

Agree with cleaning house, don't agree about quickly finding a leader. I have a funny feeling if we wait two years, none of those names will be the leader. Let it breathe, we don't have to limit ourselves to 33 people, that's nuts at this stage.

liberazzi said...

Anyhow, the focus on the interim leader or permanent leader is just a media distraction from the real job at hand. I've been reading the party constitution & quite clearly there is too much control put into the hands of the national or provincial execs. Logistically or practically that may be necessary, but the membership needs to regain some control of this party back, rather than just being a trough to feed from. Maybe its time for some sort of Membership Oversight Committee or watchdog?

Steve V said...

The constitution just bogs everything down with process. Those are good suggestions.

liberazzi said...

However, regardless of the merits of delaying the vote, the constitution clearly states the rules that were decided upon by the members. Therefore, who is giving the BoD the authority to monkey with the rules without consultation of the membership? The so-called brain trust never learns!

Omar said...

Harper has a majority, he does not want nor require the Liberals, so don't worry about collusion.

Perhaps "collusion" was not the best of terms to describe what I was trying to say, but my revulsion for Harper's regime is such that Liberal cooperation of just about any kind over the next few years will leave me very, very cold. Am I just supposed to forget what this miscreant government has done and what its future agenda for the country is? I don't bloody think so.

Omar said...

After reading your next post regarding the Liberals finding "loopholes" in their constitution in order to create new leadership rules a scant ONE frigging week after the election, I don't care what they do our who they collude with. This soap opera just goes on and on. Just die already. Gonna happen anyway.

BC Voice of Reason said...

When will the first cross over to another party occur?

Who will Bob Rae have join him moving to the NDP when his NDP merger strategy is rejected?

Will Cotler be the only one moving across to the CPC?

Which group will splinter off to become the True Liberals if Rae gets appointed interim leader?

If Apps stays as president where will Carolyn Bennett go?

Will Manley campaign to have the blue dog liberals join the CPC?