Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Dark Side
Since I've already jumped off the deep end, I thought I might swim around for a moment, before toweling off. Why doesn't Dion fall on his sword and resign, then have an emergency meeting of the executive and install Ignatieff as interim leader? If an election is averted after the throne speech, then we could have a proper, fairly quick leadership and prepare for the spring. If an election is called, the Liberals take their chances with Ignatieff and hope to salvage something. The notion of democracy seems a subjective circumstance within the Liberal Party, so you could rationalize that a "hand-picked" leader is just an extension of what happens in the ridings.
I mention Ignatieff, not because he is my first choice, but really the only logical one at this point. In my mind there are two scenarios- the present one, where we rally around almost sure defeat because of protocol and resignation or the proactive one, where we acknowledge the landscape and take decisive action to do something about it. Which presents the best option? Well, one is the virtual known, the other a wildcard, advantage the latter. Is it better to lose an election, then spend another year in uncertainty, as Dion is quickly dismissed and the next competition begins? Harper effectively gains a majority, even if we are able to prevent the seat totals, because the Liberals will not be in position to go again, the official opposition toothless.
I realize this is all blasphemy and I effectively make myself a pariah, but I don't understand the logic of going through a process, in a passive fashion, as though there are no options. Instead of silencing people, presenting the illusion of a united front, why not acknowledge the problem and fix it? The best solution, which is actually quite wise, if you accept the no option proposition, is to highlight the "team", show Canadians the government in waiting and hope that is enough to mask the leaders shortcomings. However that solution is a frank acknowledgement from the braintrust that Dion is baggage, that needs compensation. Why exactly do we have to accept that fate, and how the hell can you expect to win an election when you have to hide the leader?
The Liberal Party has a lot of problems, many of which can't be fixed overnight, some of which have nothing to do with the leader. However, this leader has shown that he doesn't resonate with Canadians, and his handicaps will not be overcome. Why do we need to lose an election to prove the obvious, that people privately admit?
Dion should resign, throw in Iggy, roll the dice, with full knowledge that it can't be any worse than the present.
Posted by Steve V at 1:26 PM
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I will let out a scream first.
Surrendering the leadership role to a person who had at most 44 per cent of the support of the delegates?
If Dion gets hit by a bus, Iggy will not take the leadership post. It will go to a senior leader who will have no intention of running for the leadership. Ralph Goodale is the logical choice there.
That said a loss for Rae and MHF in a 416 by-election will be the doomsday scenario. I don't even want to think about this, but stranger things have happened.
Last I looked Steve, Quebec isnt the only part of Canada we have to win more seats in to get rid of the Tories, since it appears you've based your conclusions on that.
It would be utterly stupid for the Liberals to get rid of a leader less then a year into his election without even facing an election. Not even the Progressive Conservatives in all their back-biting glory went to that extreme.
I think what you're prosing is so ludicrous that instead of being a "parriah", you're only really ruining your own reputation as a reasonable political observer.
Michael Ignatieff will never be supported by more than 45% of Liberals. Ever. Ever.
Good god the current state of the Liberal Party is depressing.
Again, you don't have to listen to a New Democrat, but I'm going to give my opinion anyway: of course there are options, but none of the options are better for the Liberal Party than the status quo. The leader stepping down would make the party look weak and rudderless, and would amount to shooting the poor next guy in the foot. It could be worse than the present for the Liberals, and the scenario you outline, with Iggy, would be an example of that. I know at least a few Liberal/NDP swing voters who are considering voting Liberal under Dion. With Ignatieff as the leader, that number suddenly decreases to zero. Besides, like I said earlier, the problems aren't really with Dion; they're with the party. And those are not problems that anyone is going to solve before spring.
That said, there is absolutely nothing wrong with voicing these opinions openly, and to all those who have been making Steve a pariah for doing that: shame on you. This is not East Germany where "the party, the party, it is always right"--he is allowed to be disgruntled, and say so, and still be a Liberal. When my party is pissing me off, I say so, too. It's the only way to improve things!
I think your idea is great and rite on ...I thought of the same thing myself and I did not support Iggy but I do now....these reform are like a pack of wolves and dion or kennedy or MHF would not stand a chance against them....these guys are real dirtbags.Rae could match their wits but he would lose Ontario for sure.
If you really want Dion gone, the only way is to offer him up as a sacraficial lamb by turning down the throne speech.
Your party is going to lose the next election, be it in Novemeber, or in the Spring.
The only choice the Liberals have is how badly are you going to lose.
Go now, and you stand a good chance of keeping the Tories to a minority, with a slim chance at a majority.
Let Harper roll out a budget in the Spring, and you will most likely hand him a majority.
So it's a minority, with the excuse for a leadership convention, or a slim majority with leadership convention and the chance to woe Tory MP's across the floor over 4 years, not to mention 4 years that Harper might very well hang himself in. Worse case, 4 years with a significant Harper majority as a result of waiting til spring.
No matter how you slice it, it's just a question of whether you really want Dion, and whether you want to start the new year rebuilding the party with a weak Harper, or start rebuild a year later under a strong Harper.
Hard choices, but there you have it.
PS, I wouldn't take Cherniak's comment to hard. Not much credibility coming from a syncophant afraid to postulate any option other than the fake realities he builds around himself.
It's good that your questioning. I'm not a Dion fan, but thats neither here nor there.
As a Tory, I want to see a strong opposition. One which can actually hold the Tories to the fire. Otherwise we just end up back at the Chretien years.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely".
(From my blog)
To the blog Near-And-Narrow,
I'm using a very cryptic and coded name for you, because I don't want to embarrass you, but you know who you are. I'm saying this on the down lo', and not to be a major ass or anything, but you are stealing my shit.
In case you didn't know, I, as the great and powerful Liberal Outsider do the diving off. . . of those boards....in which you dive off of.
Now after that bout of diarrhea the Liberal Party had in Quebec, it's completely understandable to be all about the blame, heck I think assigning responsibility, is like the gentle wiping the Liberal Party needs in order to pull up it's pants, flush, and then flush again (courtesy flush). But we have to watch out, only so much wiping can be done before before irratation sets in.
And once the Liberal Party gets an irritated asshole, it can't really do much of anything.
Having Dion resign is a possibility, but he hasn't lost the election yet, and might not even lose it. I don't think it's right to ask someone who was democratically elected as Leader to step down until there's irrefutable evidence of being a liability.
So, it's up to you Stephen B., at the Near-And-Narrow, you can be that irritated asshole, or you can be like me, a giant Liberal dick and fu$% the Conservatives.
I'm sorry Steve, but this is insane. I don't know where to begin.
What sure defeat? Look beyond Quebec for a moment, which is where everyone seems to be obsessing, and where all this talk is coming out of. Last I checked, nationally the Cons and Libs were dammed near tied, and governing parties drop in the polls when the writ drops. Harper has failed to gain any traction with Canadians. He's further from a majority than he has ever been. He's going to lose sees in BC, on the Prairies, in the Maratimes, and he won't gain any ground in Ontario. We're all obsessing over Quebec, which I agree needs serious attention, but let's keep perspective.
I don't underestimate the challenges facing the LPC and Dion, or the work that needs to be done. But you grossly overestimate them. And what you propose is a sure-fire recipe for a Harper majority government.
You say Dion hasn't resonated with Canadians. I agree. Neither has Harper, the Cons have dropped in the polls since the last election. Neither has Layton, the NDP is down too. No one is resonating.
Who says we have to hide the leader? Jean Lapierre? That's ridiculous. I don't think I really need to explore the reasons why Lapierre lacks credibility, and his own record of political failure speaks volumes of his political acumen. The approach has always been a team approach, from the convention onward, the dream team and all that.
Am I happy with the performance of the team around Dion, and the leader himself. No, I'm not. I've articulated my concerns, and I've suggested courses of action. Is the problem chronic? No. Is there time to fix it? Yes.
I don't follow what you think would be different with Iggy, or Rae or Kennedy for that matter. You don't think the Cons have nasty attack ads already made for each of them? No disrespect to Michael, but we all know the Cons were hoping he'd win, they wanted to run against him. So did the NDP actually.
The fact is, Dion isn't resigning. And the day the caucus forces out a leader elected by the party membership is the day the party has, as you described earlier, truly hit rock bottom. Barring a plane crash he's taking us into the next election, that's just a fact. Next biennial there'll be a leadership review, and we'll see what happens.
Steve, I don't think you're a pariah at all. I don't think people should suggest that. I think you believe strongly and honestly in what you're saying, and that you feel it's the best course of action. You are most definitely entitled to voice your views, and generally I find your views to be reasoned, insightful and well argued.
I just think this time you're very, very wrong.
As bad as things are right now with Dion as leader, I am aboslutely convinced they would be just as bad if not worst if MI had won the leadership.
Im sorry that was too fun...
On a serious note, I see now you realize what some people have been saying all along...
However, I would like to add that even the most ardent Dion'tistas would never suggest just handing the party over to Michael Ignatieff.
Saying things like that would only make you look like a sabotaging saboteur who dines daily with Stephen Maher...
Ahhh, the sweet smell of desperation! Have a great time in the political wilderness, Lieberals.
And Chernihack calling anybody to task over their posts makes me howl. You know, Jason, there are other opinions out there that don't come in the form of Lieberal press releases.
"Last I looked Steve, Quebec isnt the only part of Canada we have to win more seats in to get rid of the Tories, since it appears you've based your conclusions on that."
Scott, it isn't just Quebec, but the situation in Quebec will have consequences outside the province, as a matter of fact we are in the middle of it right now.
"If you really want Dion gone, the only way is to offer him up as a sacraficial lamb by turning down the throne speech."
And sadly, it would seem that many Liberals have concluded this is the best way to just get on with it.
Thanks for reminding me why I never bother reading your blog.
Level headed as always. Lapierre wasn't my reference, it was Falco who said we needed people to hold hands and mask, which is not her opinion exclusively, as we all know.
Is my idea rational or reasoned? No it isn't frankly, but we are in the arena of the absurd now anyways, so why not. December 4th, September 27th, what's the difference.
The good news just never stops:
"Another “star” candidate, former Brossard mayor Paul Leduc, who was hoping to run for the Liberals in the riding of Brossard, has changed his mind and now won’t be a candidate. Brossard was a Liberal riding up until 2006, when the Bloc won it, but it’s a riding the party could possibly get back. However, Dion hasn’t made up his mind who he wants as candidate there, which is why Leduc has decided to not bother.
To that Marissal says if Dion is serious, that means he’s accepted that Quebec is a lost cause, where his troops are demobilised, demoralised, broke and without any support. More and more Liberals are saying that it would be best to bring on an election now, since the situation is unlikely to improve. Bonus would be the opportunity to ditch Dion after the party loses."
The last 20 months have been wasted.
"Harper has failed to gain any traction with Canadians. He's further from a majority than he has ever been. He's going to lose sees in BC, on the Prairies, in the Maratimes, and he won't gain any ground in Ontario. We're all obsessing over Quebec, which I agree needs serious attention, but let's keep perspective."
How competitive are we in the BC Interior, Saskatchewan, and rural Ontario? If it is rural, the Liberals are second alternative behind the Dippers. In the urban centres, you are dealing with Lib-NDP races. Dion can paint Newfoundland red but to match Martin's 2004 result, you are talking of stealing 10 from the Dippers and 10 from the Bloc. So the Quebec numbers mean a lot.
"Neither has Layton, the NDP is down too. No one is resonating."
He has made the biggest political gain in Outremont. Layton is raring to go.
Libs need to stop turning in on each other period! Dion does resonate when he meets the public. He resonated enough to win the leadership whereas Ignatieff and Rae both came with such heavy baggage hard to know what demons we'd be fighting now under either of them.
Dion was elected leader. We have an election to fight so better get unified lest we let Canada to the dogs under the Cons.
Quebec is no mans land as admitted separatists will vote for Harper as they know he will ruin the country thus facilitate a 'oui' vote next time. These traitors will vote for Harper in hopes he will destroy Canada. How sick has this country become?
Forget worrying about Quebec only. The ROC is out there! As long as closet separatists like Hebert are foaming Dion can't make headway perhaps in Quebec but so be it. A leader dump right now would be far more suicidal that supporting Dion with everything we have.
Sadly it is the Liberal establishment that has it's knives out for him which is a shame. I was happy we had Dion as he was NOT establishment thus could rebuild from grassroots up. The little people chose Dion and the big guys in the lib backrooms aren't happy.
Support Dion! It's a great team and this country is too precious to lose to the nucons.
Appreciate your points, but there is just ZERO evidence of this, beyond lip service:
"I was happy we had Dion as he was NOT establishment thus could rebuild from grassroots up."
The Dion team seems entirely establishment, top-down, out of touch, status quo. I want to believe you, but those are just words. Everyone does the barbeque circuit, big deal.
The genie is out of the bottle and the on the record comments are more than just one lazy quip.
As someone who voted Liberal and Tory in the past, I have to ask:
Given the sorry state of the Liberal party right now, why should I (or any voter) have confidence that Mr. Dion can run the country when the party is falling apart around him?
The Liberals should be all about replacing Stephen Harper and his ilk, instead, we are seeing a veritable implosion of the Liberal party that reminds me a lot of what happened to Stockwell Day when he was leader of the Canadian Alliance.
Liberals... you guys need to get your collective heads out of you butts and support the leader you guys chose last December. Heaven help you if there's an election this fall because what I'm seeing right now ain't pretty.
It's funny. You know - I remember the first couple times I read you, and thought, "Ugh, Jason Cherniak v2.0", the kind of guy who will say anything and deny reality all for the sake of the Party (regardless of what party it is). The blogging thing is so pointless to me because of these partisans - it's mind-numbing.
I still disagree that the Liberals have much or any substance on the environment, but I've thought many, many times in the last while that I was wrong about you, and that you're not a zombie. It never really came up at a good moment, but now it does - I was wrong about you.
It's the damnedest thing, but - I find I like more Conservative bloggers than I do Lib/NDPers. Chucker, Olaf, Springer, and a certain Joe Calgary. I'd want them all in my Cabinet, and my whole point here is that I agree completely with Joe, as I find I often do.
Liberals should go to election now, because it's just going to get worse. Much. Unless Dion is prepared to get all Captain Kirk on people and start nailing his critics up on hydro poles as a lesson to others thinking of going against him, it's a lost and hopeless cause. Tonight's news about Leduc has made me realize that. No more Mr. Nice Guy, get tough, or else go to the polls now.
And, like Joe, I'm amazed that Jason Cherniak would mock anyone's credibility as a "reasonable" commentator.
You're not in Cabinet, you're not an MP or an executive -- you can say what you want, when you want. And for the record, you're one of about 5 reasonable Liberals on blogs at the moment.
December 1, 2005, Stephen Harper was sitting at 30% in the polls nationally and he was sitting at 15% in Quebec.
No one believed that he would win any seats in Quebec. Yet here we are.
A few weeks later the BQ helped bring down the Martin Government because they believed they would be the main beneficiary of the Sponsorship Scandal in Quebec. We all know how wrong that belief was.
Spring 2007, the ADQ had one seat in the Quebec National Assembly and they were polling 10 points behind the PQ when the Quebec election was called. We all know what happened there.
To base any decision on an estimation of how Quebecers will vote is a fools game because they are the most fickle and the most unpredictable voters in the country.
The key is to take a look at the whole picture and not focus on one part of the country. That is what the Liberals should be doing right now. They should not be continuing this self-destructive debate about Mr. Dion's leadership.
Ottlib, I sort of disagree.
I'm always arguing with my friend that Harper was down before he was up - you're right. But Dion is too far down right now, among his own people. He seems to command no respect or fear from his underlings, and at least half of them seem set on getting him out. I agree that self-destructive debate is bad, but - in this case, it appears that the LPC's debate is concluded, and they've decided to go for the throat. Dion's a 92 pound weakling to them, and they're making him their punching bag. While everyone watches.
I have been wondering where the "team" is, but I don't have any misgivings about Dion. I don't like the politics of perception, and I refuse to be held hostage to them any longer. You respect someone's leadership because you trust that he or she knows what's right, not that he or she will be able to retail themselves to voters who don't understand the issues or don't really care, or to a media elite with its own agenda.
Ignatieff made an unforgivable error in judgment and can never be trusted in a position of power, ever again. He is absolutely no alternative for this Liberal.
"December 1, 2005, Stephen Harper was sitting at 30% in the polls nationally and he was sitting at 15% in Quebec.
No one believed that he would win any seats in Quebec. Yet here we are."
There was a vacuum there which Harper exploited, a lucky circumstance. From all accounts the party has virtually written off the province, so the analogy is irrelevant.
Ugh is right!
I should have left out the Ignatieff angle, it just seemed natural, given the deputy leader status, not to mention he would have considerable support in caucus to take over in a crisis.
"You respect someone's leadership because you trust that he or she knows what's right, not that he or she will be able to retail themselves to voters who don't understand the issues or don't really care, or to a media elite with its own agenda."
Isn't that the problem, the respect isn't there and honestly what has been done to change that? Chretien used to play with the nervous nellies, the backstabbing, whatever you think of him, there was a confidence there that helped him keep it together. Dion, and his team, are acting like a paranoid, insecure group under seige, which is just perpetuating the problem. BTW, the team is a direct reflection on the leader, so if it is weak, it is a testament to bad judgement, isn't it?
There was an interesting roundtable on the CBC tonight, in which all participants agreed that there is no mechanism to turf Dion, but the inference, if there was, it would happen. What a state.
And a candidate who was set to run for the party called The Canadian Press without any prompting - saying he was asked to do so by a well-known Liberal - and announced he was no longer interested.
Paul Leduc, a three-term mayor of a large Montreal suburb, says that he's changed his mind about running for the Liberals and that one of the party's household names provided him with phone numbers for journalists and urged him to go public with his story.
The former Brossard mayor had been endorsed in April by the Liberals' provincial election commission to run without a contested nomination - but he said Dion kept him cooling his heels all summer.
"I never heard any news from Mr. Dion or his entourage," Leduc said.
"A leader who doesn't follow a recommendation, I call that inaction and indecision and it's a lack of respect not only for me, but also for the commission, and for members of my riding."
Leduc's decision not to run follows a similar one from astronaut Marc Garneau.
On your earlier sound-off the CONs were conspicuous in their silence. Of course, since you unintentially filling the void, with some understandable angst...
C'mon man, there is work to be done. A supporter's constructive criticism is dearly needed and wanted, but not demands or requests for hari kari. Changing leaders at this stage, heck, even playing with that kind of stupid idea is just drinking from the well that the CONs poisoned. I saw some familiar Tories, including an MP, handing out 'bob the red' buttons and this is just another part of their plan.
One byelection and one poll aren't reasons for pushing the eject button, either Dion or yourself. Your thoughtful analysis and well-thought out discussions are something that need to continue. But let's catch our breath, can we?
I was a John Turner supporter and am still proud to have supported him. And call me a stubborn team player, but I think sometimes we need to be our own counsel.
yikes, shudder, i can't believe i'm agreeing with cherniak ;-).
you should read frances russell; there is a reason why only those ridings had byelections: they would be trouble for the libs.
dion is more ready for prime-time than iggy, as he doesn't suffer from foot-in-mouth-head-up-ass syndrome.
all i will say is that the libs need a one member one vote convention.
That is good advice for sure, I hear where your coming from.
Not only is this a bad idea.. it doesn't even make sense.
Steve - I see where you're coming from but Ignatieff isn't the answer. I think Bob Rae's ticker may also stand against him, even though it shouldn't.
As mentioned by others, it's nice to see that you are viewing this realistically, as opposed to Jason C who will support whoever Warren K tells him to to the death and then move on to the next designated hero.
I think Dion won't hand over to Ignatieff because it would enrage his support and Kennedy's, because there is probably a perception of a deal there.
Frankly I don't think any of the alternative candidates for leadership resonated with the public, and it may be time for a group of serious people to approach someone like Frank McKenna with a "for the good of the country" argument.
The only reason I suggest Ignatieff is because he is deputy leader and has widespread support in the caucus. What I propose is
"insane", as Jeff noted, but I stand by my criticisms and predictions for the election. A 10% chance with Dion, the question would any other scenarios really be worse? Having said that, I will support Dion if he leads us into an election.
Michael Ignatieff was the runner up at the convention, but was certainly not its second choice. Had he faced either Ray or Kennedy in the final round the result would have been the same. Mr Ignatieff would have still been the runner up. I leave it to others to explain why Mr Ignatieff was the last choice of almost as many Liberals as he was the first choice.
steve v said:
"There was a vacuum there which Harper exploited, a lucky circumstance. From all accounts the party has virtually written off the province, so the analogy is irrelevant."
What vacuum? At the same time the Conservatives were polling at 15% in Quebec the BQ was over 50%. They were the ones expecting to reap the benefits of Sponsorship. Every commentator at the time claimed that they would capture every seat outside of the Island of Montreal. The Conservatives were not even in the picture.
As for the Party writing off Quebec, I assume you mean the Liberals. I do not know what accounts you are talking about but I have not heard any assertions to that effect from anybody in the leadership of the Party. Certainly, I have heard some speculation from pundits and bloggers. However, I would point out that those very same pundits believed the Conservatives would not win any seats in Quebec and that the Bloc would win up to 65. Uh huh.
Those very same pundits wrote off Stephane Dion last December, including this amateur pundit. No one saw what occured coming.
Thing could be going alot better than they are but that does not mean that the next election is in the bag for the Conservatives, despite the Liberals' troubles. They are still very much in the game and have a decent shot at winning it if they keep their freaking heads.
Spin. And to prove that Dion is clueless when it comes to Quebec, only after the by-election loss does it dawn on him that he is a "caricature" who needs to re-invent himself. Changing that perception should have been priority number one after he won, instead everyone just comforted themselves in the polls, masking the obvious, which was no surprise to anyone who possessed basic common sense.
If it comforts you to use the Conservative analogy fine, but I stand by my comment that the Conservatives filled the vacuum left by the Liberal irrelevance outside of Montreal. That is the story, and now we see the NDP attempting to fill the urban wilderness. There will be no Liberal resurgence in Quebec, the best we can hope for is too cling to our incumbents and start from scratch.
You addressed the Conservative example but you did not address the other examples.
All three demonstrate that taking Quebec voters for granted is foolish. In all of those examples the conventional wisdom, at the time an election was called, turned out to be completely wrong just a few short weeks later.
You can call it spin if you like but I call it well established fact.
Will conventional wisdom be turned on its head again? I cannot say with absolute certainty but I would argue that neither can you.
Fair, but I would counter that the Libs are at their lowest support since Confederation, overall and with francophones. Quebec MP's have acknowledged that you can't change the perceptions of Dion, so where does the revival come from with this leader? Harper was a blank slate, the template doesn't fit with Dion whatsoever. I don't deal in absolutes, I prefer probabilities, which is why I am quite comfortable in holding the view that the Liberals are nowhere in the short term in Quebec.
Sorry if I'm getting snippy :)
Fair enough comment about Mr. Harper being a blank slate. However, I would counter that the Liberals have a base in Quebec while the Conservatives did not in 2006. So I think it is a wash. Their situations are loosely similar.
As well, the Conservatives and the Bloc are going to be fighting for the nationalist vote because the Outrement by-election demonstrated the Conservatives are not the federalist alternative. The Liberals are still the first choice of federalists.
I know you believe the NDP has established itself as an alternative but that remains to be seen. The Dippers will not be able to find enough candidates like Mr. Mulclair. They will not be able to pour as much money and resources into Quebec because they will be fending off both Liberals and Greens in other ridings outside of Quebec. A general election will have a profound effect on Quebec voter intentions because they will be electing a government instead of an individual member. One thing about Quebec voters is they tend to support a federalist candidate, in a general election, that belongs to a party that has a shot at forming a government. Over a century of history has proven that.
So there are between 25 and 35 ridings where the Liberals could be competative. Particularly if the Bloc and the Conservatives split the nationalist vote in those ridings.
"I know you believe the NDP has established itself as an alternative but that remains to be seen."
It does remain to be seen, and I'm not suggesting it's a given. Whatever the measure, there is a sense the NDP is establishing a beachhead, whether that comes to pass is an open question.
The NDP is an alternative for sure, an alternative to sanity and reason.
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