In my very biased opinion, Dion's speech this morning was perfect on some many levels. On substance a clear vision, but it was the tone of the presentation that bodes well moving forward. Dion was in complete command, articulating genuine passion, measured and capable. I've watched and heard Dion many times in recent weeks, and I can say with certainty, he is finally hitting his stride, poised to surprise.
Jumping outside of the political junkie world, Canadians frankly have had little exposure to Dion (outside of Quebec). Ten seconds here and there, buried by constant attacks, I really don't sense people have a clear measure of the man. It is fair to say, Dion is viewed negatively, but that view is by no means cemented. Within that reality, there is room for optimism.
Here's the catch, and why underestimating Dion is a mistake. I know that Dion isn't weak and ineffectual, I've now seen enough to understand the exact opposite is true. Dion isn't Obama, Dion doesn't possess the common touch, but Dion is entirely genuine and he conveys his ideas with a sense of seriousness that is attractive. On top of that, there is a real passion and conviction, attributes that were on display in spades this morning. Let the bar be low, let Dion come out with people thinking he is weak, because he simply is no such thing, and the only challenge is conveying reality, a proposition which is far from absurd.
Dion addressed Quebecers personally, in a way that even Chantal Hebert was forced to acknowledge, and gently praise. That clear signal tells us, that Dion will attempt to re-introduce himself in his home province, how successful remains to be seen, but people with an open mind may allow him to be heard.
Low expectations may be an asset in the final analysis, an asset because we know there is more to Dion. If Dion really was weak, not a leader, dithering, all these negative frames, then his low polling would merely reflect reality. However, that is a partial perception, and within that, there is plenty of room to change that. Why? Because the current perception of Dion shows no relationship to his real character, it just doesn't, and I don't think that is a rose colored glasses argument.
Dion has the potential to surprise, the hurdle will be getting that message out. That said, if today is any indication, Canadians may well take a second look, beyond the superficial impressions they currently hold. Canadians know Stephen Harper, the don't know Stephane Dion, and he seems determined to ensure that they do.
A great start...