Thursday, July 10, 2008


I've never heard Stephane Dion speak in person before, which is why I made the trek to Guelph today. Dion was appearing to outline his Green Shift, including a townhall question and answer. The room allocated for the appearance was apparently too small, as they had to open up more space for the overflow crowd. Dion spoke briefly, followed by the q and a which lasted over an hour, then a scrum with reporters.

Dion smoothly walked through the questioning, demonstrating a good grasp on many issues, sprinkled with some timely humor. The overriding impression that I took from this appearance, Dion oozes sincerity and authenticity. Nary a hint of political calculation in his answers, agree or disagree, it's clear that he comes by his opinions honestly. Some of my unease about Dion's ability to "sell" his ideas has clearly waned, he came across as a very attractive, passionate advocate.

One angle new to me on the policy front, Dion is very much a free market orientated thinker. When asked about various alternative energy sources, whether it be hydrogen or geothermal, Dion was quick to say investment was important, but he didn't favor subsidies. The Green Shift would attempt to create favorable conditions for innovation to thrive, but ultimately the market would ween out the pretenders, decide the winners.

I stuck around to watch the media scrum. In typical lazy media fashion a reporter from the local paper asked Dion if the Liberals could afford to fight four by-elections simultaneously. Dion looked with amazement, clearly news to him, which means he doesn't read The National Post. I guess the scribe from the Merc does, then just parrots what she read. Impressive stuff.

Anyways, all in all a very good performance. I've always been pretty uncomfortable with Dion at the helm, although I've warmed recently. I'm glad I went, I feel much better about what Dion is all about, much better that this is the kind of leader Canada desperately needs. Authenticity is a rare commodity in politics these days, Dion has it in spades. I left thinking this guy would be a great Prime Minister, by all the measures that really matter.


Red Tory said...

Sounds like you came away with some favorable impressions.

Given what you’re saying, why the heck don’t the Libs record these events and throw them up on YouTube? It’s not like there would be much expense involved.

Karen said...

Thanks for this Steve. I found out too late yesterday that he was in Mississauga and kicked myself, because like you, I'd like to see him in person.

That said, I've never doubted his sincerity and still maintain that will stand in stark contrast to the political machinations we are bound to see from the conservatives.

(Thanks for the pic's too.)

Karen said...

Good idea RT. I think they do record them.

Karen said...

Hmm, on second thought, how long would it be before the Con site clipped and distorted them?

Anonymous said...

i'm sure they'll get him televised in someform. If you advertise they're being telecast, oppo parties will send in people to disrupt them.

Steve V said...


That's a great idea.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm glad it's not just me. I had similar misgivings about Dion originally, and I was also surprised and impressed by how much better he comes across in person than on TV when he came to Milton last year.

ottlib said...

It is common practice at these events to rent a small room and purpose.

The reason should be apparent.

The last thing they want is for him to be speaking in a near empty cavern.

ottlib said...


That should be "on purpose".

Steve V said...

I'm guessing 4-500 people attended.

JimmE said...

Thought I'd check in from the leftiest place in the USofA Aspen Colorado.
Steve, I've seen M. Dion several times since the leadership & agree with you - but here is the note of caution, TV is a strange thing & ironically TV performances need to be practiced to come across to viewers as authentic.
A million years ago, I spent some time alone & in small groups with John Turner - then some time later with Jean Chretien. In small groups Turner was very impressive, Chretien seemed aloof. Put them on the TV, one turns into the stiff Mr Turner, the other is The Little Guy from Shawinigan & everybody's pal.
M. Dion needs to work on his English TV presence so news editors hear something interesting. It's not just the facts, it's not just the delivery, it's the total performance.

Steve V said...


Fair enough. The good news, Harper is as stiff as a board, so it's not like Dion has to turn into Obama.

RuralSandi said...

Given that you call a spade a spade, it's good to hear you views on seeing Dion.

He was in my little town a couple of months ago - he visited a school that is seriously working on environmental project - he listened intently to the kids. They have events and drives to raise money to buy solar panels for the school and for the Terry Fox charity. This school has won an award.

In my little rural town - the kids are extremely serious about the environment.

Dion went over really well according to our local paper.

Anonymous said...

Jim Travers is dumping on Dion again today in the Toronto Star.

He's in particularly foul mood these days, in part because he senses the Liberal environmental plan isn't exactly catching on like gangbusters.

Steve, Joe Clark, who I met in a small group once, was very personal and authentic.

But being authentic hardly gets you the brass ring in politics.

Travers dubs Dion the Montreal mistake, and cruel as it may sound, he might have a point.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Travers hasn't liked Dion since the time Dion won the event - mainly because he was predicting someone else to win. THis was also the guy that predicted great things for Paul Martin, if I recall.

It's for that reason that Warren Kinsella calls his "Jim Travesty" when he writes his columns. He's right up there in league with Chantal Hebert for objectivity when it comes to Dion.

ottlib said...

When James Travers was writing about the troubles of PM Martin and the Liberals he constantly said that the Liberals could not gain any traction or breathing space from the Conservatives.

Now the very same situation is facing Stephen Harper and the Conservatives and Mr. Travers ignores it and focuses on Mr. Dion and the Liberals.

I have stated before that Mr. Travers is one of the worst pundits out their with regard to intellectual honesty. As well, he is the most pathetic back-room-stratgist-wannabe there is. There is a reason why he writes about political strategy in a newspaper instead of actually doing it for a political party. He is not very good at it.

I think the problem with Mr. Travers and many pundits who do not support Mr. Dion is they believe in their heart of hearts that Mr. Dion's Green Shift has great potential to be a winner.

Anonymous said...

Who cares if Dion comes across well in person. 99.999999999999% of voters will never see him in person. Their impression of him will be 100% based on how he comes across on television.

That is the only thing that matters.

Joseph L. Angolano said...

I was there with Steve today at Dion's talk. Dion was nothing short of outstanding today, he answered all questions (including mine!) with candour and aplomb.

He can handle himself so well in unscripted events like these. This bodes well for the upcoming campaign.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately Dion will get noticed more for things like this. This is a politically tone-deaf remark said in St. Catherines' speech Wednesday and turns out to be wrong to boot:

"If the Liberals win the next election, "it will be the first time in the history of Canada that the prime minister of Canada will have a PhD," Dion said."

It's like someone putting that they're a member of Mensa on their bio, it reeks of arrogance and pretension. And apparently William Lyon Mackenzie King received a Ph.D from Harvard.

I know Travers can't stand Dion and is intellectualy dishonest as Ottlib says but that doesn't mean he's wrong about Dion.

Dame said...

Thanks for the good news .. We /most Of us /had this ambigious fear For not sure how he can actually sell ...
Is Very Good news Steve .

Steve V said...

Nice to meet you at the event Joseph :)

"Who cares if Dion comes across well in person. 99.999999999999% of voters will never see him in person. Their impression of him will be 100% based on how he comes across on television.

That is the only thing that matters."

Well, I saw the Green Shift release on television, and I thought, as did most of his strongest critics, that it was his best performance. Besides, look at his competition, the human tryptophan.

Platty said...

Awww, questions to tough for ya stevie boy?

Well, you keep riding that short bus, I'm sure it will get you where you are going.....


Steve V said...

"Awww, questions to tough for ya stevie boy?"

LOL. My five year old is more thought provoking.

Platty said...

Right, LOL.

So why the need to delete the questions then, maybe you could go ask your five year old that....


Steve V said...


If it's any consolation, my five year old is pretty sharp, so don't feel bad.