Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Stephane Dion Speaks - Part 1

I had a chance to sit down with Stephane Dion over the weekend, after the Hays breakfast on Sunday, to talk about his leadership bid. First off, let me offer a big thanks to Stephane’s Alberta team who were really nice and gave me well over an hour with their candidate on what must have been a busy trip for him. It was also entertaining to see Stephane drop the gloves and take a few swipes at the frontrunners – at least more so than anyone else I’ve talked to.

Because of the length of the interview and some technical problems mid-way through it, I’m going to do things differently and post the interview in three parts. Today, I’ll post the first few questions with Stephane’s answers in his own words. Tomorrow, I’ll recap our discussion on federalism. Friday I’ll post quick opinions and quotes from Dion on a wide range of topics (including his opponents in the race).


I’ll be running a “Greatest Prime Minister…We Never Had” poll on my blog this summer and I was wondering if there is anyone in Canadian history who never reached the top office who you think would have made a good Prime Minister?

I’d have to say Roy Romanow – on the condition that he learned French. There might have been someone earlier in our history, but Roy is someone who I worked with a lot during my time as intergovernmental affairs minister and I was always very impressed with him, and his grasp of the federation. If he’d learned French, he could certainly have made a good Prime Minister…but maybe I shouldn’t say that or he’ll jump into the race now.


You’ve made the environment a key part of your platform. But as environment minister you put forward a plan which you yourself admit would not have allowed Canada to reach our Kyoto targets. So what’s the point of staying in Kyoto if we’re not going to reach the targets?

I think the media took my comments there and misinterpreted them. I said that if Stephen Harper was in government for two years and then I took power, that we wouldn’t have a chance to meet our Kyoto targets. However, had our government not been defeated, or even if I got the chance to become Prime Minister in 2007, we could still reach our Kyoto targets. [ed note: I’ll admit I’m not an expert here but I haven’t seen a single report or study which has even raised the possibility of Canada being able to get our emissions levels to 6% bellow 1990 levels by 2012…under any plan. If anyone (in the Dion campaign or otherwise) has one, I’d be very curious to see the numbers used]

The key is the carbon market so that you can trade credits. This provides companies with the possibility to make money by becoming more environmentally competitive. A carbon tax is not the answer since that only punishes industry. You obviously need tax reform to compliment the carbon market since you need to deal with other types of pollution too. But worldwide, emissions trading has worked far better than carbon taxes and this is the route Canada needs to go down.

Since we’re talking about the environment, I’d like to say that I was extremely disappointed in Michael Ignatieff’s article in the National Post.

He’s thrown out some ideas, but he didn’t even include a single word recognizing the work which myself and the Liberal government did on the climate change file or on our 2005 climate change proposal. When I travel to the Bahamas, they recognize the work Canada has done on Climate Change. I think it shows incredible disrespect for a new Liberal MP to come in here and ignore everything we’ve done.


Apart from the snub, what do you think about what Michael actually said in the article?

There are some good ideas in there, but they’re fairly obvious ones. I think Michael needs to learn more about the carbon market system since that’s definitely the approach we need to take.


As a Quebec Cabinet Minister during the late 90s, do you believe that your election as Liberal leader would make it hard for the party to move beyond Adscam and allow Harper to use it as an election issue in the future?

If Harper tries that, I would say that my integrity has never been tarnished at all. The fact is, we have been too kind and we need to say “no more mister nice guy”. The people who were crooks went to jail and will go to jail, but our 75 candidates in Quebec are honest people and we need to aggressively defend their integrity. If Gilles Duceppe brings it up, I would ask him about the Parti Quebecois accepting illegal funds from Group Action. If he calls the Liberal Party crooks, I would sue the Bloc. If Harper brings it up, I would ask him to release the names of the donors to his first leadership campaign in the name of integrity.

And if anyone in the Liberal Party implies that we can’t have a leader because he comes from Quebec, that’s completely unacceptable.


At this point, a group of four cyclists came up to our table and introduced themselves as Liberals and big fans of Stephane’s. Unfortunately for him, they’re not party members, but at least it did show him that there are a few Liberals in Calgary. One of them said that if he becomes Prime Minister, there needs to be tax credits for cycling and good fitness. I’ll give Dion marks for actually telling them that he thought this was a bad approach to take since tax credits don’t benefit the poor who don’t pay taxes. He told them instead that the government needed to build fitness centres and seemed to talk them around to his point of view.

43 Comments:

  • Great post, CalgaryGrit. I think your blog shows why so many young people are visiting blogs before newspaper websites to get some insight and information on such things as the Liberal Party leadership race. Yours is one of the best.
    I'm looking forward to the next installment.

    By Blogger Ned Noodle, at 4:29 PM  

  • Great questions. Looking forward to reading the rest.

    By Blogger jiggerydo, at 4:44 PM  

  • Ed Broadbent

    By Blogger s.b., at 4:46 PM  

  • CG,

    As always your posts are excellent. Nothing new from Stephan Dion here though. I'm the best, I'm going to be PM, blah blah blah.

    He never explained how he would meet kyoto targets, and concetrated on "if I am Prime Minister by 2007".

    Where's the policy? Where's the growth in the party he should be after? I think candidates need to run first for party leader, and then for PM.

    CG, I asked in a post earlier if you'd ever consider running to be an MP. I guarantee you would not only get a lot of press, but fans from across the country would volunteer for you. I would!

    PS: Ignatieff should be the next Liberal leader, the rest can go home.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 4:53 PM  

  • A curiously vehement way of expressing what were apparently minor disagreements of emphasis with Ignatieff's environment article. Hopefully not reflective of bad blood.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 5:22 PM  

  • riley; I don't really have ambitions to run for office, but you never know. I came close to being a sacrificial candidate in a recent election but that eventually fell through.

    JT; In fairness to Dion, his tone wasn't really "vehement"...I'd describe it as more "feisty". It's hard to get the tone across and I know that when I get to part 3 and one of the things he said about Rae, it's gonna sound pretty nasty, even though Stephane clearly said it with a smile and it came after he said a bunch of really nice things about Bob.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 5:52 PM  

  • I think it would be good if carbon
    taxes became a topic of debate between the leadership candidates. It has the potential for helping to distinguish between the candidates, not only in their ideas for dealing with global warming, but in the deeper question of how each feels about using government power to effect fundamental changes in the country. It's easy to get people to speak in generalities about such a question, but you can learn a lot more if there is a debate about specific proposals to solve a specific problem.

    By Blogger ted, at 6:07 PM  

  • Great post, thank you. The more I read about Dion, the more I like him.

    You're right of course CalgaryGrit, tone is so hard to read. Including phrases like, he was smiling, helps alot.

    It's nice to see that he spent so much time with you. MSM often misses the nuggets. I like the fact that he is unafraid to get himself out there.

    By Blogger knb, at 6:25 PM  

  • The people who were crooks went to jail and will go to jail..........

    So then Mr. Dion. If there are crooks who went to jail, who is left that "will" yet? Freudian slip there buddy?

    You Liberals keep saying things like "No more Mr. Nice Guy" if we keep on bothering your Party over Adscam. Well sir, you have only your Party to blame for your mess.

    The pressure will stay on as its obvious by your statment that others will follow the first crooks to jail. This thing isn't over, not by a long sight, and for you to whine that you are tired of it, well, that just smacks of the typical Liberal conceit that oen can always expect.

    By Blogger Dennis, at 6:26 PM  

  • You know Dennis...the Frank Lutz "battle cry" is beyond wearing thin. It's beginning to sound ridiculous.

    By Blogger knb, at 6:32 PM  

  • I have to admit that I was impressed by Dion's tough stance regarding the accusations in AdScam. He's a fighter for sure.

    By Blogger Zac, at 6:32 PM  

  • You know Dennis...the Frank Lutz "battle cry" is beyond wearing thin. It's beginning to sound ridiculous.

    Of course you think it would sound like that. Whining that the Conservatives aren't letting go; its PATHETIC and you deserve it. Thus this tough talk from Dion is even more of a laughable joke.

    Liberals want nothing more than to marginalize the fact that Adscam/Sponsorship is obviously far from over. And really, I can't say I blame you or the Liberals.

    Like a poster I know once said - "Enjoy the Opposition benches boys and girls, that is, if the NDP lets you.

    By Blogger Dennis, at 6:41 PM  

  • Like a poster I know once said - "Enjoy the Opposition benches boys and girls, that is, if the NDP lets you.

    Of course, how could I have forgotten about the glorious Tory revolution we are in the midst of.

    By Blogger Zac, at 6:42 PM  

  • Of course, how could I have forgotten about the glorious Tory revolution we are in the midst of.

    You talk as if it has never happened before.

    What Province are you from again, Zac?

    By Blogger Dennis, at 6:52 PM  

  • Oh great. A nationalized fitness institution? Good grief. BTW why does every tax policy have to benefit the poor who dont even pay taxes??

    By Blogger M. K. Braaten, at 7:03 PM  

  • You talk as if it has never happened before.

    No I'm not but you talk as Harper is going to be a round for a couple of decades.

    What Province are you from again, Zac?

    Same one as you Denis, Ontario.

    By Blogger Zac, at 7:03 PM  

  • A nationalized fitness institution?

    I having trouble seeing that one myself.

    By Blogger Zac, at 7:08 PM  

  • Spend money on preventative health care?? For shame!!

    By Blogger robedger, at 7:13 PM  

  • Of course you think it would sound like that. Whining that the Conservatives aren't letting go; its PATHETIC and you deserve it.

    I'm really hoping the discourse goes above this level of high school taunting. All of us, left, right, and in between deserve better.

    Lisening to the debate amongst the Lib candidates...at least substance is being discussed. I guess that is making the conservatives uneasy.

    As to the NDP, I was sad to see their strategy, sadder yet to see what a corner they have firmly placed themselves in.

    Good debate, differing views, is what I think we're about. Taunting is beneath us and I hope more of us finally get that.

    By Blogger knb, at 7:16 PM  

  • Spend money on preventative health care?? For shame!!

    Rob, I'm just having trouble seeing how that could be implimented.

    By Blogger Zac, at 7:20 PM  

  • No I'm not but you talk as Harper is going to be a round for a couple of decades.

    I'd say at least one decade, if not close to that.

    Same one as you Denis, Ontario.

    Then you know what Tory "revolution" I'm talking about. ;-)

    By Blogger Dennis, at 7:30 PM  

  • I'm really hoping the discourse goes above this level of high school taunting. All of us, left, right, and in between deserve better.

    Of course we do. And yet the Frank Lutz jab deserves no comment? Please.

    Hearing a leadership candidate and other Liberal supporters say how tired they are from hearing about the Sponsorship/Adscam Scandal irritates me to no end. That kind of arrogance is astounding, considering they are whining about the fallout from a scandal THEY created int he first place.

    Doesn't it tell you something that your old Party stalwarts who have definetly demonstrated leadership ambitions are avoiding this leadership race like a vampire fleeing from sunlight? They know what is coming down the pike, so they are getting out of the way. So when I say the Liberals deserve whatever they get, they certainly do, your pseudo morality notwithstanding.

    Lisening to the debate amongst the Lib candidates...at least substance is being discussed. I guess that is making the conservatives uneasy.

    LOL No.........its not. I can guarantee you THAT.

    As to the NDP, I was sad to see their strategy, sadder yet to see what a corner they have firmly placed themselves in.

    Now, who is the "uneasy" one here, lol?

    Dion is not going to going to become PM this time out (if ever), even if he does win the Liberal leadership race. None of your candidates will. These guys cannot even get it together to the point that a budget they opposed passed without them even being aware of it! They want to be the GOVERNMENT? LOL, they can't even be the OPPOSITION!?

    This "leadership" race is a joke; I cannot WAIT to see who is going to swallow the Volpe poison-pill for his delegates. Man, I'm so looking forward to the next election. Ah, times are good!

    By Blogger Dennis, at 7:51 PM  

  • mk braaten has a point there friends.

    do you think, relatively speaking, the poor generate anywhere NEAR the GHGs that the middle class and rich generate?

    tax credits are very effective.

    build some national fitness centers? uhh.

    why not refund every membership? hey, pay for it up front! why bother with constructing anything when the infrastructure is in place.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 8:12 PM  

  • I'd say at least one decade, if not close to that

    Well, we shall have to see. He has to find that majority government first though.

    Then you know what Tory "revolution" I'm talking about. ;-)

    Ugh, don't remind me.

    By Blogger Zac, at 8:21 PM  

  • Disappointed in all candidates, but Dion is so far the by-far-least-disappointing, and your story of him telling No to the cyclists impresses. (And I'm 100% a cyclist. I agree with Dion.)

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:26 PM  

  • KNB gives us this excellent advice:

    I'm really hoping the discourse goes above this level of high school taunting. All of us, left, right, and in between deserve better.

    ABSOLUTELY. I couldn't agree more. But then, KNB resorts to taunting...

    Lisening to the debate amongst the Lib candidates...at least substance is being discussed. I guess that is making the conservatives uneasy.

    Then, after that taunt,

    Taunting is beneath us and I hope more of us finally get that.

    I'm not a Conservative, and I don't play one on TV, but you're the exact same childish high school namecaller you pretend to dislike. Stop your hypocrisy already!

    It' s people like you that keep me from joining any particular party.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 9:30 PM  

  • I'm a big fan Dion and think he was easily one of the best cabinet ministers that Canada had over the past decade. However I really just can't see the man ever winning an election in Canada as a Federal Leader.

    By Blogger Manitoba Liberal, at 10:25 PM  

  • Jason bo Green

    You're right. I did not make my point without resorting...

    In future, I will try to engage without falling into that.

    I do believe that the debate going on amongst the libs is substantive. I also believe that what the Conservatives are showing Canada is shallow. That's not taunting...it's just how I see it.

    By Blogger knb, at 11:03 PM  

  • Nice post, looking forward to the next instalments.

    By Blogger A BCer in Toronto, at 11:08 PM  

  • Dennis, Dion's comments on 'Adscam" isn't arrognace, no matter how much you would like to think so. Its the truth.

    There were a few bad apple breaucrats, and ad-executives whom have been tried, convicted, and sentenced (one is awaiting sentencing.

    Adscam didn't cause the cgange in government, I remember seeing a poll where it only effected the votes of 10% or less, the want for change created the environment for Harper to get in.

    13 years and 4 mandates is a long time, and Martin wasn't able to portray himself as either a agent for change, or a pillar of stability.

    "Adscam" is over, there was an inquiry, the trials are wrapping up, what is left?

    Pebbles

    Liberal Pebbles

    By Blogger Liberal Pebbles, at 12:43 AM  

  • ""Adscam" is over, there was an inquiry, the trials are wrapping up, what is left?"

    I dunno, let's see what else Ms. Fraser has up her sleeve. I'd like to see the books on the gun registry, for one... how do you spend a billion on building a database?

    By Blogger Candace, at 1:17 AM  

  • 1. The government needs to build fitness centres!?!? I assume there was some sort of hypothetical in the discussion - I could see subsidies as being preferable to credits as a rational policy point of view, if impractical.

    2. Harper's donors haven't consented to the disclosure of their names (given that they donated pre-campaign finance reform). If it was just him, then I agree, release away to the same extent other parties have.

    3. The issue with emissions trading is whether it takes place internally or internationally. The latter, in the near-term, does no substantive good for the environment and hits the economy (Canada's emissions being a drop in the bucket). If it contributes to a global solution then it would have merit, but that justification undercuts any rush to meet 2012 when most Kyoto adherents who have had to make significant reductions will not meet 2012 either.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:35 AM  

  • My favorite part:
    "If he calls the Liberal Party crooks, I would sue the Bloc"

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 9:21 AM  

  • "If he calls the Liberal Party crooks, I would sue the Bloc"

    So Dion is acknowledging that a politcal party can be sued? That means the Liberals can be sued for the missing 40 million from Adscam?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 10:52 AM  

  • I've always said that Stephane Dion would be probably the one leadership candidate that Harper fears.

    Mostly because Stephane is like the french version of Harper; a quiet intellectual with well thought out ideas and the capacity to convince others that they are right.

    Well, no matter who becomes leader of the Liberals I'll consider (however briefly) the possiblity of voting Liberal next election. I'll be watching closely...

    By Blogger SouthernOntarioan, at 11:03 AM  

  • CG,

    Dion came out with a policy on mandating the number of female candidates in electoral campaigns and providing financial benefits to parties who run females.

    I posted on this topic over on my blog, www.rileyspoliticalrant.blogspot.com and was wondering your opinion on this type of policy?

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 11:32 AM  

  • riley; Yeah, I saw that and...I dunno. We need more female candidates and the leader should actively encourage them to run. But how heavy handed do you want to be?

    I'll have to think this one over for a bit.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:22 PM  

  • On his women's policy:

    1.) I'm glad we have some policy to debate in this area.

    2.) Not being heavy handed has got us nowhere. I swear we have 1930's like numbers in Ottawa - I'm willing to try it out just to see what a equal caucus looks like.

    3.) We mandate a certain number of westerners and quebekers in parliament, why not women too? We'd never tolerate a parliament that had only 15% Ontarians, would we?

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 12:35 PM  

  • Heavy handed is not the way to make democracy stronger in Canada in my opinion.

    I'll look forward to your ideas on this CG but I think we need to start using the role models we've got (Sheila Copps, Debra Grey, Alexa McDonough, Rhuby Dhala, etc) to get the word out.

    On my blog I said that I'd like to hear how they won the nominations in their ridings, and how they then won their seat. Their stories would be a good guidance for others.

    Let's try using the role model approach before we start mandating people in.

    By Blogger Riley Hennessey, at 1:02 PM  

  • .. sure Riley.

    Hold up the rare few who have broken through the sytem rather than fix the system.

    By Blogger Hammering Jow, at 1:06 PM  

  • knb,

    Fair enough re: substantive - Me, I gotta be honest, i'm disappointed with the substance part of the whole race so far, but... maybe it's too early? I kinda feel like Ignatieff and Rae have been academic rather than practical on most things, and Kennedy's been saying things I *like* but without, as far as I can so far see, real plans to implement them. However, I do hear some substance from Dion.

    We all fall into traps, my friend - no sweat.

    SouthernOntarian, I am SOOOO with you - Dion IS Harper's twin, which is why I sort of feel he should win - it would be the best contest, no-spark intellectual policy wonk vs. no-spark intellectual policy wonk. I'd pay to see that match-up, believe me, I'd be glued to the campaign trying to decide, I think.

    By Blogger Jason Bo Green, at 3:03 PM  

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