The Race for Stornoway: Stephane Dion
"le ciel est bleu, l'enfer est rouge"
Background: Born in Quebec City, Dion has an alphabet after his name on his wikipedia bio (PC , MP, BA , MA , Ph.D.), so one imagines he's fairly well educated. He taught political science for 12 years at the Universite de Montreal, before entering politics.
Political History: Dion was one of the wise men brought in by Chretien following the referendum scare in 1995. As Intergovernmental Affairs, Dion drafted the Clarity Act, often considered Chretien's largest legacy. He also earned a reputation for writing articulate letters to Premiers, in the days before we simply gave them whatever they wanted. After being bounced from the original Martin Cabinet for Jean Lapierre (*shudder*), Dion earned the Environment Portfolio following his help in the 2004 election. He is now Foreign Affairs critic for the Liberals.
Rejected Endorsement: If the short lived "Draft Dion" blog is any indication, one imagines he won't have Paul Wells giving him too many introductions.
Pros: More experience in the federal government than the rest of the field put together. Extremely thoughtful. Well respected by most Canadians. Is from Quebec.
Cons: His English isn't sensational. Might be seen as too ancienne regime. Sometimes considered to be "not emotive". Is from Quebec.
In Person: Dion's a bright guy and I've always been impressed with him when I've met him in the past. He won't rely on platitudes and gives honest, well reasoned answers. He gets flustered in English at times when caught off guard, but most Liberals who have gone to Dion events over the past few weeks have left with nothing but nice things to say about the guy.
My Take: Dion is a gutsy intellectual who I've always admired as a politician. I don't necessarily agree with all of his decentralizing policies but the Clarity Act and his firm refusal to give in on the fiscal imbalance is certainly policy I deeply respect. And, much like Ignatieff, Dion can be counted on for well reasoned policy, even if it's not always exceedingly popular. At the same time, I like the "sustainable environment" focus to his campaign but, then again, who isn't pro-environment in this race?
Dion has more experience than most of the field and has always been a loyal soldier to the leader, whomever that may be. And despite a decade in elected office, he's been relative untouched by scandal or controversy.
The only drawback I see to Dion is that he isn't a great politician and I seriously doubt he could beat Harper. But that alone shouldn't disqualify him since politics is a funny game and if Harpr can win, I don't see any reason a francophone Liberal version of Harper couldn't. The only real reason I'm not supporting Dion is because I truly believe that Gerard Kennedy is what the Liberal Party needs right now - Dion is still number 2 on my ballot.
Chances: Mark Marrissen, of Team Martin fame, is rumoured to be his National Campaign Manager, and Don Boudria has signed on board.
He likely won't be top 3 on the first ballot but Dion is another guy who could turn out to be the "consensus candidate" at the convention. He's in the group of 4 or 5 who can win this thing.