Monday, September 15, 2008

Before "Not A Leader"

I remember it well, the same media that vilifies Dion now, was singing his praises. Interesting to hear the words, before the media carried Harper's water, completely seduced by the relentless attack ads. Back in the day:

"What he lacks in charisma he makes up for in common sense. He possesses a remarkably clear-eyed view of the possibilities. That he has been the most lucid on the crucial unity file is unsurprising, but he has also presented a compelling vision of a 21st-century environmental economy. If a leader is going to exercise mastery over any files, those are among the most important.

But Mr. Dion has mastered more than that. Through the campaign, he has shown that he has mastered the art of politics.

While he has been burdened with an image as a stiff academic, he has added humour, passion and humility to his defining attributes of intelligence and principle.

Globe and Mail endorses Dion 2006


"Which makes him a rarity in Canadian politics: a candidate for high office whose rise to prominence was fuelled, not by back-stabbing his colleagues or the patronage of powerful families, but by closely reasoned arguments.

Yet if Mr. Dion has exceeded expectations in this campaign, it has not been for parading his virtue, as the principled intellectual who floats above the fray. He has not campaigned as an "anti-politician," promising to "do politics differently" and otherwise advertising his disdain for his chosen profession. He has simply demonstrated a practical mastery of it.

"When Stephane Dion spoke, his [Cabinet] colleagues put down their coffees, stopped signing correspondence and listened attentively," Eddie Goldenberg, Jean Chretien's lifetime factotum, writes in his just-released memoirs. "He had learned a lot about government, a lot about politics, and a lot about how to get things done." This sounds right to me. Even as a political scientist, Mr. Dion's work had tended more to the applied than the theoretical. In office, his studies continued, only with himself as the research subject. He was learning how to do politics -- not differently, but better.

Or more precisely, how to do politics, while remaining true to himself."

Andrew Coyne November 2006


"Which brings us to Stephane Dion, our choice for leader because he was willing to fight for Canadian unity when it counted, despite the fact most of his academic peers in Quebec were separatists, who made his life hell. That took courage... we also think he's smart enough and tough enough to be a leader.

Toronto Sun Endorsement of Dion 2006


"A word to the wise: when the subject is Dion and the odds are long, it is generally a good idea to bet against the house... But there is an element of fearlessness to Dion that keeps surprising Liberals by how frequently it charms them.

Dion offers only confidence, encyclopedic interests, and a decade at the centre of the nation's most gruelling debates, a trial by fire that he endured, we can say now in hindsight, with extraordinary good grace. He has surprised his adopted party at every turn. It would be reasonable to expect he is not done surprising."

Paul Wells 2006


"Some say Dion is too dry and academic to win an election, a criticism we do not share. People said that about Stephen Harper, too, but he's PM today. Having both major parties led by individuals of undeniable intelligence is not such a bad fate for a country, after all.

Liberal grandees have been making their choices, and expect rank-and-file party members to follow them to this or that candidate. But this weekend, at least, each card-carrying Liberal still has some individual clout. Using it to advance the cause of Stephane Dion would be a service to the party, and to the country."

Montreal Gazette endorses Stephane Dion 2006


"St├ęphane Dion, the most underutilized talent in the Liberal Party, was superb on election night, as he almost always is. The Liberals should do a lot more than they appear to do to hold on to St├ęphane Dion."

Rex Murphy 2006

Has Dion really changed, or have you??


Anonymous said...

They're on the Harper train. I read Well's blog at one he referred to a birthday party he attended for Tim Powers...uh, huh.

These quotes should be put up everywhere.

I don't respect or trust the press anymore.

They are part of Harper's manipulation, the team and most work for conservative newspapers.

The US has arrived in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I have been very disillusioned by the way certain members of the media have turned on Dion. He is a really decent, intelligent man. The only way I can make sense of it is by thinking of the way that people are often compelled to side with the bully in a fight. It's not what I would have expected, given the traditional Canadian response to bullying -- but as the previous commenter pointed out, there's been a shift. I sensed it about two years ago. Canada doesn't feel like Canada anymore.

Steve V said...

I honestly think they have bought into the Conservative propaganda, they've effectively adopted the theme, which in turn is absorbed by their audience. This explains why some of the attack ads didn't even make it to radio and tv (they didn't have to), the Conservatives wisely understood that the media just needs to hear attacks over and over, and then they will promote the negativity. I wonder if the media realizes that Harper has played them like a fiddle, they are nothing more than Pavlov's dog. Ring, ring!

red and proud said...

The media also seem to have bought into the myth that Jack Layton and the NDP are running a smooth and well organized campaign. The NDP are way behind the other parties in nominating candidates. A quick check of their web site this morning shows that they have not yet nominated candidates in 101 ridings (Yukon-1, BC-10, AB-10, SK-2, MB-7, ON-29, PQ-27, NB-6, NS-2, PEI-3, NL-4).

It seems to mean that if they really were all that well organized they would have nominated many more candidates by now.

Mike said...

Well, the Libs ought to use those quotes in their own ads, but of course, the easy rebuttal is all of this was said before his performance of two years in the House.

Dion may be intelligent, decent and have great ideas, but so did Robert Stansfield...need I really say more?

Dion makes Harper look absolutely electric in the karisma department, by comparison. And as shallow as that is, it works with the electorate.

As I said over at Red Tory's, if you had Bob Rae of Michael Ignatief in charge, you'd have a whole different story.

I don't have a horse in this race, but its easy to see the image of the leaders is important. Unless the Liberals can take the focus off of Dion and more on the team or the Liberal brand, you are playing right into the Cons hands.

Anonymous said...

Coyne and Wells are pretty fair. I wouldn't consider them as "vilifying" Dion.

Good idea though to find these quotes. They should get this in ad form and fire it on TV.

Anonymous said...

I think Liberals have to look in the mirror to understand the debacle that they may be facing. They have run their past campaigns by portraying the Conservatives as Satan incarnate. This worked in the short term, but the result was that when Harper got into power all he had to do was not commit human sacrifice for the public to begin to not trust the Liberals anymore when they start sounding alarms about the Tories.

Ultimately, however, it seems that before voters are willing to take their nation on a new direction that they have to absolutely exhaust the conservative cliches first. It happened in South Africa, it happened in Ontario, it seems to have happened in the USA (if Obama gets elected) and I suspect we are going to have to go through a period of catastrophic Conservative rule in Canada too.

One last point. The Liberals (and NDP in the provinces) have no one to blame but themselves. If they had passed electoral reform and put proportional representation in place, the worst choice they would have to face is whether to accept the NDP or the Greens as their minor coalition partner. But people who profit from an existing state of affairs rarely have the wisdom to see how the state of affairs may sometime change---.

Anonymous said...

I think the real issue is Canada media now report the "horse race" with increasing regularity.

They will still report on issues, but the campaigns have to take the lead on "presenting" it for them to consume.

Liberals still keep acting as if the media will just report on the issues, but they want someone on camera, someone in print.

Anonymous said...

We are bashing the media for not having a plane ready? We are bashing the media because Dion's crowds are pathetic? We are bashing the media because we are not sending a coherent message?

The media is waiting to push Dion. The media is left of centre in this country (and in the United States). Please do not blame the media. They are really on our side. We only need to give them something worthy of broadcasting.

Anonymous said...

The media is waiting to push Dion. The media is left of centre in this country (and in the United States).

You are delusional. Stop talking.

Robert said...

Two words: Stockholm syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Harper just essentially said if the economy was going to collapse, it would have already.

I'm serious. Not an exact quote, but pretty damn on the mark as to the message.

Where is the Liberal Prime Ministerial response to the biggest financial news of the last 3 decades?

I know it's not on the schedule, but it would be a heck of a time to chime in with something a bit more reassuring.

Waiting . . .

Anonymous said...

As if not completely clear in my "email" tone above, I think Harper's response leans much further towards the "panic-inducing" category than "market reassuring."

What kind of statement is, "I'm sure if it was going to be bad, it would already be horrible" in reassuring anyone?

Steve V said...

"Dion's crowds are pathetic?"

Seems to me, only one leader has drawn a crowd of 1000 in this election. Who would that be? Hmmm.

Anybody who thinks we have a left-wing media, doesn't have a clue and needn't be taken seriously.


I meant vilifying in a general sense, those quotes used to show the GUSHY view of Dion in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Glory Be! It has happened! Maybe there is some life there yet . . .

From the updated G&M article on the current markets:

Speaking in Ottawa, Mr. Harper used the U.S. financial crisis to argue that the ideas of his opponents are unworkable in the current climate.

“This is not a time for wild experiments and new taxes or grand new spending schemes,” he said. “Governments must be able to act with prudence during a difficult economic time.”

Mr. Dion shot back by suggesting Mr. Harper has been a rudderless economic manager who spent on election-minded gimmicks but led Canada's economy to a performance that lags even the troubled U.S.

Mr. Dion said the Liberal Green Shift would cut taxes on areas that would stimulate the economy – incomes, savings, and business profits.

“The difficulties in the United States are something that we worry about. But still, they are outperforming the economy of Canada today. Their first six months [of 2008] have been better than ours in terms of economic growth.”

“Mr. Harper did nothing to prepare Canada [for] that. Nothing to invest in the productivity of our economy. Made bad choices regarding the way he spent – he spent more than any other government before him, but he built nothing,” Mr. Dion said.

He said Canadian economic growth was slower than that in the U.S., and other G8 countries, in the first six months of 2008, and that Canada lost more jobs in July than in any month since 1991, when Brian Mulroney was prime minister.

He added later: “And what is the plan of Stephen Harper, anyway? It's the same mistakes that have been done under Mulroney. He spent a lot, he has no direction, and we are close to deficit and close to a recession.”

Now don't let go of that message and move on to something else immediately. Build on it. Have other leaders within the party echo it.

Gayle said...

Does anyone think that the weak leader might be countered by the party demonstrating he is NOT weak? That maybe those other guys, Iggy and Rae specifically, could go out of their way to demonstrate Dion is a leader?

Right now, they make the occassional comment, but no one believes them. Perhaps that is because they, or their people, are sending conflicting messages.

I know I sound like a broken record, but from what I see there is some truth to the "arrogant" label given to the LPC by some cons. It is profoundly arrogant and selfish to leave your party, and its leader, to flounder in an attempt to position yourself for the next leadership race.

Demosthenes said...

Ooh, tarring Harper with the Mulroney brush. Now that's good.

The idea that conservatives, no matter what their party name, know how to run a national economy is absolutely ridiculous.

After all, Harper's essentially a Republican. How well did the Republicans fare? Well, we're seeing that right now, aren't we? Even the guys in the financial sector—the ones they were catering to—even those guys are suffering.

The last thing you want in a crisis is a conservative at the wheel.

Steve V said...


It still amazes me, that conservatives get a natural advantage on the economy. If you look at the records, the worst downturns under conservative reigns, the most prosperous times liberal and democrat reigns.


I've heard the "team" mentioned a few times today, from various sources. I take that to mean we will see the rest of the gang out more prominently, and hopefully it includes rousing endorsements of Dion, by his side. Iggy or Rae, with an emphatic speech, demonstating complete support, flattering, not to mention their own gravitas, would get some press.

Gayle said...

Absolutely Steve.

But not only that - they have to take the Green Shift on too. They cannot allow Dion to be the only one promoting it. There has been too much talk of many liberals "privately" expressing concern.

Steve V said...

Well Iggy was arguing for a carbon tax two and half years ago, so he should have no qualms arguing passionately. Actually, I saw him in 2006, quite articulate on the subject, so let's go!

Gayle said...

And then you get reports like this:

"Jeffrey Simpson: Jim, almost every Liberal I speak to has already moved to the post-Dion questions, such as the one you raised.

I have no idea what's going through Michael Ignatieff's head. I do know he didn't return to Canada expecting this. When he came back, it was assumed that the Paul Martin Liberals would win an election, he would become a cabinet minister, and would therefore have some time to build a base and reacquaint himself with Canada.

But the Liberals lost the last election, and his political ambitions had to be accelerated, to his detriment.

I would say that should he be interested after this election in running again, he would not face three obstacles that killed his candidacy last time. The Iraq war, that he favored, has receded as an issue. His long absences from Canada have been compensated for by his active involvement in politics since his return. And his position that Quebec is a "nation" that seemed to controversial at the time has become conventional wisdom."

So will these people shut up, or will they continue to trash their own party.

Steve V said...

Post-Dion, for cripes sake people.