Sunday, October 28, 2007

Liberal Riding President Resigns

Some of the comments seem contradictory, but another sign all is not well on the good ship Liberal:
Saying she’s disillusioned with the leadership of Stephan Dion, the president of the Sarnia-Lambton federal Liberal association has resigned.

Anne Marie Gillis said Friday she’s disappointed that the party didn’t vote against the recent throne speech.

Had it done so, it would have sparked an election.

“Insiders have told me after the throne speech came down that Mr. Dion and 30 of his confreres were willing to go to the polls,” she said. “They were going to stand on their principles,” including their support for the Kyoto environmental accord.

But after meeting with the caucus, Dion backed away, she said. “The caucus all sat on their hands,” she said.

“It’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees,” she continued. “The opposition’s role isn’t to survive, it’s to oppose. I’m a little disappointed.”

Gillis predicts bad times are ahead for the party.

I agree with this logic:
“The longer you delay (forcing an election) the weaker you become. People do not follow weakness, they follow leaders. They are setting themselves up for a real fall.”

Gillis blames Dion, but really her ire should be trained on the caucus and advisors, because Dion was ready to face the electorate. Gillis cites Chretien as an example of a leader consulting with caucus, but ultimately moving forward based on his own convictions. In fairness to Dion, he faced a maelstorm of opposition, given the precarious situation for his leadership, you can at least see the rationale in backing down.

I don't blame Dion for abstaining on the throne speech, I look at all those who spoke of suicide and threatened revolt if he forged ahead. What happens next will be Dion's making, because I believe Gillis' quote above is the bottomline that every Liberal should realize. Let's hope Dion's instincts don't leave him, and he pounces at the first opportunity, with the nervous acknowledging the losing proposition of neutered opposition. IMHO it's a guaranteed slow burn to a Harper majority, and everything I have seen in the last week re-affirms that viewpoint.


Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I actually agree with your overall conclusion and would be very concerned about the big picture if I were a Liberal. But reality check here: do you know how often riding association presidents resign? Have you ever heard about such a resignation being reported in the media before?

The real question here is: why did Gillis take this to the media, and who advised her to do so?

Steve V said...


It't not that she resigned, nothing noteworthy there or unusual, but her very public comments are interesting. I agree about "the real question".

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... the public comments sure are noteworthy, but I think that the thing that is very interesting here is where this is happening, in Ontario. All these recent fires about Dion's leadership have been in Quebec, and many commentators have kept on noting that the Liberals were still strong and united in Ontario.

But now you see the riding association president in a riding where the Liberals have had pretty strong support in the past resigning in such a public way, that should really send up some flares. Where there's smoke, there's fire, and it seems like there is a fire in Ontario too, not just Quebec,

Karen said...

Steve: Let's hope Dion's instincts don't leave him

I can't see that happening. He was pragmatic, which we all tend to be in out lives. That in itself does not change our views, or at least not mine.

northwestern_lad is trying to make a point...but the evidence does not show that. Support is higher in Ontario. Nice try though.

I/P made the best point. Why is this in the media? Two points. A vendetta and the media are eating this stuff up. The perfect marriage, no?

Fools both of them, out for their own individual gain.

What they gained...gone tomorrow.

To be honest, I'm happy to see these people resign. The weakness is leaving, hopefully to be replaced with strength.

Steve V said...


I thought about that too, but you would need to see more evidence to support the Ontario angle. Delacourt had a column yesterday, which basically said the GTA Liberals are still solidly behind Dion.

Steve V said...

Not sure if it is relevant, but I did some checking and she supported Rae during the leadership. Dion finished fourth in Ontario, so that isn't saying much.

northwestern_lad said...

Steve... true, but lets remember how things in Outremont started. This might be the spark that sets off the blaze in Ontario

Anonymous said...

I don't know what this resignation means, but not everyone buys into the whole Throne Speech or die scenario as pushed by Harper and Layton and now some Liberals. Here is a CanWest article picked up by the National Post:

Harper hit with bully label

One of my local MPs ran an opinion piece in a local newspaper urging Liberals to convert to NDP because of Dion's abstention, and I thought it was way over the top. Seems to me it is just parotting Harper's framing.

Karen said...

catherine, for soe reason, I cannot access your link. Is it me?

Anonymous said...

Sorry, try this:

Karen said...

Thanks catherine.

Okhropir Rumiani said...

You say her beef should've been with those who advised Dion to stay put instead of Dion himself.

If Dion doesn't have the balls to stand up to his advisors who don't want an election then she is justified in blaming him.

Steve V said...

"If Dion doesn't have the balls to stand up to his advisors who don't want an election then she is justified in blaming him."

To be fair, it wasn't just advisors, but by all the accounts the vast majority of MP's and the organization.

ottlib said...

As knb said, the sooner these folks go away the better off the Liberal Party will be.

I blogged a few weeks ago about how things never change in Canada's politics except the players.

In 2004 and 2005 it was Stephen Harper in Mr. Dion's shoes with resignations almost every week in all parts of the country and particularly in Quebec. In fact he was in even worse shape than Mr. Dion. He was still having those problems when the Liberals brought down the budget in 2005.

So the Conservatives abstained on that budget instead of forcing an election. The reaction of the media was the same as last week. Still more Conservatives publicly resigned because of the perceived choice of expediency over principles by Mr. Harper and the Liberals crowed.

Sound familiar?

I have said it before and I will say it again. Nothing in politics is permanent and there is no sure thing in politics.

Smart politicians realize that and act accordingly, waiting for better conditions. We can all be happy that it is Mr. Dion who is the leader and not Ms. Gillis. And we can all be happy that Mr. Dion listened to Senator Smith, and the Rae brothers, all of whom are smart and seasoned politicos with proven track records of winning.

Steve V said...


So we wait for something akin to the sponsorship scandal, because Stephen Harper would have been in the political scrap heap if not for that turn of fortune?

All the things said about Harper are true, although there are unique circumstances here that don't fit neatly into the analogy. I would argue that rather than things turning around, we are in the midst of the cementing.

Dan McKenzie said...

Not good news but I wouldn't have heard about this had I not read it on your blog. Not a big deal. Just local media stuff.

As for northwestern_lad and this being the spark that sets off a blaze... Confirmation that dippers with dreams of destroying the Liberals really are annoying. Sure winning over Liberal voters is the goal but you have to win over Liberal partisans too. As far as that's concerned there is 0 indication of that. Perhaps, not insulting Liberals, and the country they've built would be a start.

kitt said...

Harper sets a trap for Dion and he nicely turns the tables on Steve and some idiotic riding president resigns then goes off in a huff to the media and we are suppose to think that Dion is not a leader and there is trouble in the Liberal party?

Get real peoples..... LOLOLOLOL

burlivespipe said...

I agree the main question we need to concern ourselves is why did Gillis take this to the media?
When 2 mildly prominent NdP New Brunswick candidates defect to our team and that receives no coverage, i have to ask who is scripting the media's storyline?
Why ignore one and jump on the other, except that it feeds the original storyline pimped by our PM... Funny, I have yet to see many journalists follow Dion's trajectory to see how many items stand out as 'leader-like' or 'non-leader-like' events. But then again, trapsing through someone's old comments and achievements has been written off as verboten, thanks to our Capt Canada Harper -- wouldn't dare look at his ol' leadership tea leaves from years gone by, right?

northwestern_lad said...

Dan... please, do tell, how has the NDP been insulting the country??? Remember, the Liberal Party and Canada are not the same thing. It is very possible to be a good Canadian and not be a Liberal

Dan McKenzie said...

Not quite what I meant. I think you get my point.

Anonymous said...

You also need to take into consideration that:

1) Sarnia-Lambton is now solid Tory blue. It went Tory blue in the last provincial election.

2) It is difficult to raise funds at the riding level, especially in an unheld riding under the new rules. In some of them, the Grits are running a poor third and usually behind the Greens or the Dippers, depending on who has more traction.

3) It is also difficult to leave nominated candidates waiting for an election, especially ones who have taken a leave of absence from work. In unheld ridings, it can be stressful since many candidates are considering the next election as a dry run for one four years later.

So, there are both sides to this story. This is probably what Gillis is thinking about.

Steve V said...


On point two, she actually said the coffers were full. As an aside, I wonder why the third quarter results haven't been released yet? Seems a long delay.

On point three, I agree, it is hard for candidates to be election ready for months on end, particularly those that have jobs.

Anonymous said...

"On point two, she actually said the coffers were full."

The good burghers in Sarnia must be doing extremely well with the oil refineries in full capacity. Wish it would be the case in other ridings :(

Roger Galloway had a strong local following. So it is more No. 3, you cannot leave new Liberal candidates hanging in the wind.