Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Sense Of Urgency Please

Today's scathing article on Dion and the Quebec Liberals, in the Globe and Mail, is part hit piece, part disappointing. The typical unnamed sources, the disgruntled "senior Liberals", but underneath the good copy, some things that are really inexcusable:
Senior federal Liberals are publicly questioning the party's lack of election readiness in Quebec, placing the blame on Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion and his key organizers in the province.

“He has no instinct,” former Liberal minister and political commentator Liza Frulla said in an interview.

“At a certain point, people feel it if there is something wrong, even if they don't know exactly what it is. But he, poor Stéphane, doesn't feel it.”

Ms. Frulla also said publicly what many Liberals are saying privately about Mr. Dion's lieutenant in Quebec, Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette.

And on, and on.

The part I want to focus on, which seems part of a disturbing trend, dragging our heels on getting candidates in place. Let's face it, there have been several instances where potential candidates have taken a pass, people aren't beating down the Liberal door to run in Quebec. With that real environment in mind, there is no excuse for the constant dithering, and slow reaction, when we have willing people, ready to run:
Former Liberal MP Nick Discepola, who won three elections for the party in a riding just outside of Montreal, said he offered to run again and is still waiting for an answer.

While he sits on the sidelines, Mr. Discepola said that Bloc Québécois MP Meili Faille is working to retain her seat, while Conservative minister and Senator Michael Fortier is organizing his own bid in Vaudreuil-Soulanges.

“They know I have an interest,” Mr. Discepola said of Liberal Party officials.

“They haven't decided as far as I know.”

Mr. Pinkus said the Liberal Party has lost a number of potential candidates through these types of delays, explaining that strong people have grown tired of waiting.

It was only a few months ago, that the Liberals went through this process with Garneau, who was supposed to be in, but heard nothing, then decided to take a pass, which in turn lit a fire, and now he is back in. I find it odd that Dion is firing off emails to the ridings in Quebec, telling them to "be ready for an election", while the brass is dragging its feet on getting candidates in place. Again, if there are qualified people, ready to run, there is no excuse for delay, no excuse for pissing away goodwill through inaction. What is the problem, and why haven't we learned from the past?

If the Liberals are forced to avoid an election because of what frankly amounts to systemic incompetence, it represents a real shame, because conditions are ripe. A new poll from Ipsos today, the outfit which generally tends to overstate Conservative support, has the two parties in a deadheat, the Liberals with there highest total in months. Just a month ago, the Conservatives enjoyed a 7 point lead. When Ipsos has a deadheat, it's a good sign.

Plenty of talk about waiting for the "winning conditions". Fast tracking potential candidates, in a region where volunteers are scare, might be a good start. Get it together, a sense of urgency is clearly lacking, and I don't understand why.


northwestern_lad said...

Steve... when I read this article I did notice something that was different about it, and that was the overall lack of "unnamed sources" You named three of them in your piece alone that were named in the article. While I agree that unnamed sources shouldn't be look upon in the same way as named ones, I would argue here that the fact that there are so many actual names here attached to quotes is a definite change.

bigcitylib said...

I wonder if the lack of candidates has something to do with the Fed leadership not being really serious about a Spring election. I think there was one Vancouver candidate who dropped out because they had to work and couldn't sit around waiting for an election to come at any time. If you don't really plan to go right away, why hurry?

Zat make sense?

Steve V said...


You're right, there are quite a few on record, which might speak to another level of frustration.

Steve V said...


With naming names, there was one prominent Liberal, about as high as you can get, telling people to be ready for Feb, this past December. Plus, Dion did send out this memo to all the Quebec ridings, telling them to get ready for an election.

I actually think it worse, if people were never serious about forcing an election. Afterall, it is a minority, and you have to be ready to go at any time.

Red Tory said...

Systemic incompetence. There's no other explanation or excuse for it. And whose fault is that? Sorry, but the responsibility ultimately has to be laid at Mr. Dion's doorstep. I don't expect an election until the fall, but that's no reason for a lack of readiness in the meantime. None whatsoever.

Steve Janke said...

I think there was one Vancouver candidate who dropped out because they had to work and couldn't sit around waiting for an election to come at any time.

Her name is Rani Bellwood. She was nominated, waited, started a business, waited, watched the business take off, waited, and then said this is ridiculous and dropped out of the running (or dropped out the standing-doing-nothing) to focus on her work.

Steve V said...

"Systemic incompetence. There's no other explanation or excuse for it."

It would be a even better explanation, if I knew how to spell ;)

And yes, Dion does deserve blame, especially in the aftermath of Outremont, where he pledged to get it together in Quebec.

Anonymous said...

Are any of you honestly surprised at this mess? At least the Quebec Liberals are speaking out so we know about it, but this problem is not unique to Quebec.

Dion never stood a chance at managing the organization because he had no allies coming in.

I haven’t seen this argument come up yet, but the CPC can easily argue that if Dion can’t manage an entity like the LPC, how is he fit to lead a country?


JimBobby said...

Whooee! Top-down candidate selection hasn't just hurt Dion in Outremont and DMCR. Here in Haldimand-Norfolk, the Grits got a star candidate in Ottawa-based Dr. Eric Hoskins. Trouble is, H-N is about 600 km from Ottawa. The nomination meeting only had about 50-odd LPC members present and a whopping 13 ballots were declared spoiled. Hoskins won by 1 vote. A large number of disgruntled local Grits have joined our Green EDA.


Mark Dowling said...


Is the demand to nominate more women holding up the confirmation of candidates? Whose OK is Nick Discepola waiting on, riding, LPQ or LPC?

Anonymous said...

Shame on all of you. We need to get back to Cherniak's message of solidarity. Instead of spending our time dissecting a biased article from a right wing source like The G&M, maybe we should focus a little more on what each of us is contributing to the success of the party. You know, a little positive spin for a change.

Ti-Guy said...

Her name is Rani Bellwood. She was nominated, waited, started a business, waited, watched the business take off, waited, and then said this is ridiculous and dropped out of the running (or dropped out the standing-doing-nothing) to focus on her work.

Maybe her gynecological health had something to do with that. Look into that, won't you, Wanke?

liberazzi said...

Words to describe the Libs at the moment...Frustrating, farcical, pathetic, weak, incompetent, indecisive, rudderless, hesistation, fear. This is a quote from Dion today "party members need the will to win, rather than the fear to lose". Exactly, Mr. Dion!

This so called "strategic patience" is devired from the fact that Libs on the whole realize the mistake they made in Montreal and are afraid of the consequence, meaning that Harper is going to clean the floor with Dion. My argument is that lets see what Dion is made of, hope that sum (i.e. "the team")is greater than the parts and hope for the best. It is not going to get any better, only an election is going to clean this mess up one way or another. I know we are all afraid of a Harper majority, but are we not giving them one by default?

Steve V said...

"Shame on all of you. We need to get back to Cherniak's message of solidarity."

Oh shut up, would you. This blog is meant for discussion, it isn't for propaganda.


Wow, that is quite a turnout.

As far as Dion's quota system, I've never favored artificially placing female candidates, as a matter of fact it is quite insulting to push the idea that women need help, beyond qualifications, beyond merit. People like Martha Hall Findlay don't need Dion to get to Ottawa.

Ti-Guy said...

I know we are all afraid of a Harper majority, but are we not giving them one by default?

To do what? Be in charge while the economy tanks? Harper can wear that one for a while longer as far as I'm concerned. The Harpies had two years to think about isolating Canada from the coming financial apocalypse and they they did nothing but bash Liberals and drain the treasury.

Anonymous said...

"Wow, that is quite a turnout."

About average for Grits in rural constituencies. The 50 there are the dedicated ones, joined ChequeMate and all that. Having an appointed candidate foisted on them does not do good in boosting morale there. Although future MPs need to do a dry run there when the Grits are in the dumps.

"where he pledged to get it together in Quebec."

What if the party does not listen to him? The Quebec wing wants an election ASAP. Why do you want an election there when once the House falls, you have to appoint back- stabbers such as Liza Frulla in LaSalle-Emard who will NOT contribute to your political success that much?

"Get it together, a sense of urgency is clearly lacking, and I don't understand why."

They are getting it together somewhat in Westmount for Garneau. In our parts, you may see a bloodbath for nominations and that is in the Montreal area alone. We are now fighting the same battles that we had 20 years ago between Turner and Chretien. There is nothing to do, but sit down and watch.

Steve V said...

"What if the party does not listen to him?"

Well then, the situation is past the point of no return.

Tomm said...


Excellent discussion, as usual for your posts.

I may add one more thing.

I am not an LPC supporter. So from the outside, this sort of public bickering, with accompanying expectation of electoral success, just appears to be like a royal court haggling over the next fancy dress ball.

Do Liberal's think they have such a sense of governing entitlement that public bickering is all just entertainment for the hoi polloi?

In any other party, this type of stuff would mean 5 years in the penalty box, but for federal Liberal's it seems to be a little friendly slapfest that will be forgotten once they get their make up on and smiles in place.


Steve V said...

"I am not an LPC supporter."

Shocking ;)

Tomm, I don't think it's entitlement, although I know that is a common theme amongst non-Liberals. A party should always have the posture that it is the government in waiting, that doesn't mean you don't have to earn it.

Anonymous said...

I've really stopped caring about politics in Quebec these days but seriously who gives a shit what Liza Frulla thinks. She's been publically ciriticizing the leader for some time now, and it was the same with Jean Chrétien. The only one she was in with was Paul Martin and that didn't work out so well either. Why should Dion care for one second whether or not she gets a seat. If I was the leader there would be no chance she'd run under my banner.

As for Discepola I don't really know much about him, but the odds of him winning Vaudreil are about 10,000 to 1. Just get someone in there.

Quebec's a mess, not much else I can say about it.

Karen said...

Well, it's tough to disagree with you Steve.

I confess that I am beyond perplexed at this situation though.

Frulla speaking out is nothing new, nor a surprise. (As an aside I thought this comment about Hervieux-Payette was rich coming from her. “She is abrasive and she is narcissistic,” Ms. Frulla said.)

Have Fragasso and Hervieux-Payette been heard from in any detail since the last fracas?

Karen said...

Tomm is not an LPC supporter? Who knew? :).

jimbobby, while I don't want to take any new comers to the greens away from you, I hope once the election comes, some of those digruntled grits have a change of heart.

The sooner we see the back of Finley, the better, imo.

Anonymous said...

"Why should Dion care for one second whether or not she gets a seat."

Frulla was offered LaSalle-Emard not long after the Outremont debacle. She said no thanks. There are two reasons for her possible change of heart. One is that Marc Garneau is now the candidate in Westmount. The second is to thwart the possible appointment of Louise Arbour, should she decide to go into the House.

Not sure about Arbour for the Grits. We never had a transition from Supreme Court of Canada Justice to MP.

Steve V said...


What I find maddening, and maybe using her quotes was a mistake, it seems like nothing has changed in the last few months. We had the big splash, Dion turfed Carroll, a new lieutenant put in place, a commitment to turn it around, but what we see on the ground, the tangible proof, is pretty much the same nonsense. Where the blame lies, is debatable, but the bottomline, it looks like a rudderless ship from here, and that is unacceptable.

Red Tory said...

Hey Tomm, tell us one of your neoconservative wet dreams about spreading freedom and democracy around the world, would ya? When you're done apologizing for KKKate's latest neo-Nazi provocation, that is.

Not a supporter of the LPC. No shit!

JimBobby said...

"The sooner we see the back of Finley, the better, imo."

Finley's history in H-N. She's been a complete no-show on serious local issues like Caledonia and the tobacco farming bankruptcies. She's advocating a nuclear power plant to replace Nanticoke coal.

Hoskins is not a shoo-in. People in this rural riding want a local rep. We had Bob Speller but then he became Ag Min and failed to represent H-N. Finley's neglect is due to her ministerial duties. Locals see Hoskins as an Ottawa/World citizen. A great human being but maybe not such a great rep for our riding.

The local papers actually think our Green guy has a chance of slipping up the middle. He ran for mayor of Norfolk in the municipal elections and came in a close 2nd in a 5-way race. There's a lot of name recognition.

The NDP hasn't even selected a candidate, btw.


Karen said...

Interesting JB. It'll be one to watch and while I agree Hoskins is not a shoo-in, I suspect that he'll do pretty well.

My SIL lives in the riding and she's been telling me just how unhappy people are with Finley.

I think she may volunteer for Hoskins. We'll have to trade war stories when the election is on, without divulging secrets of course,;).

Möbius said...

Liza Frulla had that tough Heritage portfolio, and lost her riding to the BQ...we should always listen to her opinion carefully.

Steve V said...

Looks like more good news coming Wednesday:

"However, just as the party was moving to control the damage, it faced a new challenge from discontented members of the party's Quebec wing. A group is expected to call into question Dion's leadership in a sortie in a Montreal newspaper Wednesday."

Anonymous said...

This is from a recent article:

"In addition, Ms. Frulla questioned the election readiness of the Liberal Party, saying the responsibility for the next campaign should go to people such as Liberal Senator Francis Fox and MP Denis Coderre."

Stop the train, please. I want to get off!!!!