Monday, July 17, 2006

Stephane Dion Soundbytes

You can read the first two parts of my interview with Stephane Dion here and here. Today, a quick run-down of what Mr. Dion had to say on a wide range of topics:

On Education
I know one candidate wants to be Prime Minister to deal with education but he had 40% of the students in his old ministry and that’s where he could have made a difference.”

Dion doesn’t feel we need education standards since “people don’t want government in the classrooms”. However, he sees a role for the federal government when it comes to giving money directly to students, or for spending on research. He likes what John Manley did for innovation and would like Canada to be the best country in the G8 when it comes to innovation.

On the Federal Government’s Role in Health Care
For Dion, the federal government must respect the Canada Health Act and the principle that access is not linked to wallet size. However, he doesn’t see a major role beyond that: “We should not be over the shoulder of provinces in health if they respect this.”

On Youth Centres
Dion really likes the work John Godfrey did to fund fitness centres. Stephane sees a lot of youth in his riding who do nothing on the street. “That’s not good for their health but it’s also not good for Canada.” He’d like to see more programs and centres to keep young people active.

On the One Ton Challenge and Paul Martin
The one ton challenge was not stupid. It was much more than TV ads with Rick Mercer. It was about encouraging people to make good decisions.

Paul helped me, but I wonder if he was aware of the one ton challenge. The PM must be aware of the issues

On the Afghanistan Extension
Dion supported the current mission, but not the vote Harper sprung on Parliament. He said it was insulting to hear people say “we need to support the troops” since every MP in parliament obviously supports the troops.

Had we made the mistake to go to Iraq, like some people wanted us to, would we say we need to stay there forever, just to support the troops?”

On the Liberal Handling of the Vote
“We should have voted unified; it would have made us a better opposition party.”

Because of the importance of the mission and the vote, it would have been better for the Liberal Party to stay unified on this topic. Dion would have liked the party to insist that Harper come back in October with the full details of the mission: NATO’s role, what other countries are involved, will we revisit parameters, what is our capacity to do other missions? If Harper refused, it was up to the party to say no.

What he said to Bill Graham before the vote
“Look Bill, you’re not a Minister anymore. You’re there to check the government. How can we check it in six hours of debate?”

On Kyoto
Kyoto is “more than a target”, it’s “a global approach to a global problem

On Arctic Sovereignty
Dion wants to build large National Parks in the north and welcome scientists from around the world to study in the north. He feels this would help assert our claim of sovereignty in the arctic.

On the Green Party
According to Dion, they’re “a one issue party”. Liberal success over the years has been because of the two pillars of “economy” and “social justice”. He feels the time has come to add environmental sustainability as a third pillar.

On the GST Cut
Dion would keep the GST at 6% but would not lower it to 5%. The four billion saved from this would be spent on the national tax benefit and on money for the working poor.

I finished the interview by asking him to give a quick word or two about his ten competitors

On Michael Ignatieff: "A great intellect. Ten years ago, I would not have been ready for federal politics. I'm not saying Michael isn't, I'm just saying I wouldn't have been. Experience is really the key; Trudeau had experience before becoming Prime Minister and I think my time in intergovernmental affairs has given me good experience since I got to see a lot of files. Academia is good training, but you still need experience.”

On Gerard Kennedy: "Gerard’s a good politician and very engaging. I don’t know him well but I question why he went to federal politics if it was to make education a top issue. I will say that his experience at the provincial level is valuable. My colleagues like Lucienne Robillard who came from provincial politics always had a good perspective about the provincial view point which is important. As part of the team, Gerard will do great work, but I hope he’s moved to federal politics to do something different."

On Bob: "I have a lot of admiration for Bob Rae and I appointed him as head of the forum of federation. He did great work there. However, I would ask him, as a friendly question, “are you aware of one Liberal who would take out an NDP membership and run for NDP leadership the next day?” I’d just ask that as a friendly question."

On Joe Volpe: "A good colleague. He was a good minister of immigration." [ed note: Dion has obviously learned from Denis Corderre and Michael Ignatieff that those who attack Joe Volpe have to deal with the consequences]

On Carolyn Bennett: "She did great work in Public Health."

On Ken Dryden: "My hero! I was always a big Canadiens fan. He’s the “big guy for little kids”, and recognized the economic benefits of child care."

On Hedy Fry: "I like Hedy a lot and she was a good colleague. She’s been an MP since 1993 so she has more experience as an MP than me, although less in Cabinet."

On Maurizio Bevilacqua: "Maurizio has a very good understanding of the economy."

On Martha Hall Findlay: "The more I know about her, the better I like her."

On Scott Brison: "A very good policy mind. I don’t always agree with him, but he puts ideas on the table which is good."

On the Field as a whole: “When you look at the candidates, we have brilliant intellectuals, great provincial politicians, Martha “the rookie”, and some great colleagues of mine. I’m really happy to be in this race with so many strong candidates."


  • If someone was smart they would offer you a newspaper column.

    Excellent series; among your finest work.

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 7:05 AM  

  • I find know, willingess to admit that there are other candidates...refreshing. He doesn't have his hands clapped over his ears saying: "what? other candidates? I'll just be over here singing kumbaya."

    By Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist, at 9:18 AM  

  • On the GST Cut
    Dion would keep the GST at 6% but would not lower it to 5%. The four billion saved from this would be spent on the national tax benefit and on money for the working poor.

    I would have prefered a more circumspect answer along the lines of waiting to see how the cut impacts government revenues.

    On Joe Volpe: "A good colleague. He was a good minister of immigration." [ed note: Dion has obviously learned from Denis Corderre and Michael Ignatieff that those who attack Joe Volpe have to deal with the consequences]

    Couldn't he have just said, "No comment." :)

    By Blogger Dr. Strangelove, at 10:40 AM  

  • I like Dion he was high on my second ballot selection however, I have worries when his Co-Chair of Blogging and another blogger supporting Dion BC er in Toronto state they would leave the party if a ceartian candidate wins.

    It shows fear tactics similar to what Martin used in the last two campagins. Considering Jim Goetz was one of Martins former orginizers and is running Dion campagin, it doesn’t surperise me. Is this what Dions communication stradagey is?

    Jason Cherniak -Volpe has risen up as the bogey man – July 15, 2006

    “Let me absolutely clear: if Joe Volpe becomes leader I will not be supporting the Liberals in any election while he remains leader - without perconditions”

    BC er in Toronto -Quote in the Globe ands Mail -July 10, 2006
    "Looks like we may be forming a new party on Dec. 4," commented Jeff Jedras on his blog, A BCer in Toronto (
    When are we going top l;earn we are helping the tories with attacks on the l;eadership contenders.

    Looks like Mario’s choice is looking better and better.

    By Blogger Davenport Liberal, at 2:47 PM  

  • CG,

    This is by far the best post on here with Dion. Covered a wide range of topics and boy does this paint a picture of Dion.

    A.) what's his deal with education? We don't need national standards? Education is a friggin federally mandated program with provincial distribution.... DION GET WITH IT! Giving money directly to students??? doesn't that sound like "fend for yourself" democracy... wasn't that a line Libs used to try and defeat Harper?

    B.) Two things stood out for me in this. One was the line you quoted Dion as saying "Paul helped me" and the other was his line about "Bill, you're not a minister anymore".... WHO THE HELL DOES DION think he is? When I spoke to Alexa McDonough about the Afghan vote, she specifically said "I have discussed it often with the Leader". She didn't say "Jack said screw the mission".

    Dr. Bill Graham is the leader of the official opposition, and the leader of the Liberal party. The respect he gets from Dion is "bill, you're not a minister anymore?" Wow.... talk about undermining the leader from the get-go.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 5:33 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 5:33 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 6:44 PM  

  • HJ,

    I didn't mean to criticize the interview... in fact I think I said how much I liked it!

    I was just criticizing Dion. I think there is an important federal role in education and I think the Liberal caucus has worked to undermine the leadership of Graham from the getgo.

    Because of these beliefs, Dions comment about education bothered me, and his tone about Graham and Martin equally annoyed me.

    Sorry to dissapoint you HJ.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 6:49 PM  

  • Oh really Davenport, this is silly. Since you've been posting this same screed in multiple blogs, typos and all, is this part of some Volpe blog strategy? Didn't Jimmy K say stay away from the blogs?

    Anyway, to take you seriously for one second:

    1) I'm supporing Dion, but I'm not on the campaign staff and I'm no more privy to his communications strategy than you are.

    2) I am not the only one who doesn't like Joe Volpe.

    As for trying to smear anyone as "former Martin organizers" you may want to look into your own campaign. Joe himself, Jimmy K, the list is long. Are they somehow tained too in your mind?

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 7:30 PM  

  • Oh, just ignore Davenport Liberal, it's all nonsense from that corner.

    Excellent interview - you've really done a bang-up job. I don't think his plan for Artic sovereignty is going to help Arctic sovereignty, but I do generally like the guy.

    Great comments on the other candidates, that was terrific.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 7:50 PM  

  • Good range of subjects with the man. Although I wonder what everyone thinks they are going to get when they ask candidates what they think of the others.

    Do you really think they are going to sling mud, Carolyn Bennett excepted?

    By Blogger RedMapleLeaf, at 10:34 PM  

  • redmapleleaf; It was interesting to see Dion take a few gentle shots at Rae, Kennedy, and Iggy and go easy on the others.

    That should give a sense of who they see as the candidates they see as the biggest threats.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:13 PM  

  • BC er buddy if the best you have is my grammer then you agree with the main parts of what I write.

    In regards to volpe communication team. You must be getting desperate.

    A person actually is putting information about comments made by other camps out there and you think this. You make me laugh.

    You actually I know whereall the martin ppl are: Provost is with Brison, Webster with Dryden.

    I'll let you proof read what I write how does tha sound. Stick to the message and may deepest regrets from the spelling and grammer.

    By Blogger Davenport Liberal, at 3:56 PM  

  • Interesting how M. Dion has taken to criticizing/dreaming up positions on Bob Rae so regularly...he must view Rae as the candidate with momentum and his main competition.

    Dion should be a bit more careful in his comments though, lest he leave himself open for criticism himself...afterall didn't he join the Liberal Party a day before being named to Cabinet without a seat? Or, hmm, was it the day after?

    By Blogger LiberalAtHeart, at 10:41 AM  

  • "the federal government must respect the Canada Health Act and the principle that access is not linked to wallet size"

    I'd like to know what this means. Will he outlaw travelling to the U.S. and elsewhere to obtain timely and necessary medical treatment, as thousands of Canadians do now? Will he outlaw travel within Canada to jump past local queues, as thousands of Canadians who have the means to do so do now (and as his cabinet colleague Alan Rock did)?

    Or does he perhaps mean that people with money can tap their own resources to get faster treatment, but he just loves the phrasing of the old Liberal talking points?

    Otherwise, I'd really like to know what this statement means.

    By Blogger Paul, at 3:32 PM  

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