Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Je m'excuse

If there's one thing these election results have shown, it's that we all owe Stephane Dion a big apology. For the past 3 years, he has been the punchline of every political joke. He has been ridiculed, and treated as if he were the biggest failure in the history of Canadian politics.

And yet, as yesterday showed, the problems with the Liberal Party certainly ran deeper than Dion.

Right about now, 77 seats sure ain't looking that bad.


  • Yes Indeed. Goes to show that his constituency knows that he is a sincere fellow.

    Meanwhile, new NDP MPs include 4 McGill students and a teen.

    Are the voters crazy or sending a message?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:08 p.m.  

  • I agree with the theme of your post, Dan, but I disagree with the "we" part. Back when I was more naive than now, I supported Kennedy in the leadership race. When he got behind Dion, I was pleased because I liked (and still do) Dion's ideas. Perhaps I liked him because he was as naive as I was about politics.

    The party's treatment of him is a large part of the reason that I, and others like me, have been less than enthusiastic in our involvement since.

    So I don't owe him an apology, but perhaps if those who do owe him one see the error of their ways, this will be a party I can again get behind 100%.

    By Blogger Dennis Rice, at 11:23 p.m.  

  • Dennis - good point. The "we" certainly doesn't include everyone.

    As one of only thirty-four MPs, and one of the more experienced Liberals in caucus, I think it's safe to say Stephane will have a major role to play in the rebuilding of the party in the coming years.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:27 p.m.  

  • ...and he was re-elected with a sizeable majority!

    By Blogger ij, at 11:33 p.m.  

  • first defection of the new parliament... elizabeth may to the liberals

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:48 p.m.  

  • Re: first defection... Not bloody likely.

    Back to the topic at hand, it was really nice to see Dion hold his seat. Looks good on him.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 a.m.  

  • I also think Kennedy's choice of Dion over Ignatieff at the convention looks better now and should not hinder Kennedy if he tries to go for the leadership again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 a.m.  

  • Sweet justice. Dion is in parliament but Iggy is not. Kennedy is gone. Hall-Findlay is gone. Trudeau barely hung on. Rae is tottering and could be gone by the Fall. Dion may not have had charisma, but Harper could never have attacked his patriotism. And Dion aced the debates, in both English and French, which is where Iggy's downfall began.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:54 a.m.  

  • Hmmm! Let's not get too carried away. As I recall, he was stubborn as a mule. Even his staff had problems with him.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 3:28 a.m.  

  • I can not believe people are defending Dion. He is hands down the worst leader the party has ever had and that is saying something. 4 of the last 5 of have terrible. John Turner, Paul Martin, Ignatieff and Dion were crap.

    Outside of Quebec this loss has a lot to do with Dion. The Liberals were never able to shake off talk of 2009 "coalition" that Dion put together. The Liberals were the party of national unity until Dion decided to form a non aggression pack with the Bloc.

    By Blogger Koby, at 3:43 a.m.  

  • And yet, as yesterday showed, the problems with the Liberal Party certainly ran deeper than Dion.

    I know there are a large number of head-in-sand-type Liberals who actually didn't know that until this election, but surely YOU did, didn't you? Come on, CG, really?

    I have always shaken my head after every recent election, wondering why the Liberals always blamed their leader for poor outcomes. It's not that simple, and it's never been that simple. And while there were in fact problems with Dion, that's not why he got 77 seats in 2008.

    By Blogger Jae/Jennie, at 8:20 a.m.  

  • Glad to see a post on this. The Liberals hustled out Dion like a mob hit. They need to give their leaders a chance. Dion was not the best leader but Ignatieff wasn't either. I am also tired of the phony line that Kennedy has bad judgement because "he" chose Dion. The Party chose Dion and it was the best decision at the time. Frankly, there were not a lot of options. I have a lot of respect for Dion and Kennedy. Ignatieff tried his best but I think the attack ads on him did a lot of damage.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:42 a.m.  

  • Dalton M lost his first election in 1999 nearly as badly as Dion lost his.
    He returned 4 years later with a majority, and then another after that.
    Agree that we need to stop running through our leaders like this. The next guy needs at leader 8 years, or 2 kicks at the can. Even Turner got to stick around after 1984.

    By Blogger Dan F, at 8:57 a.m.  

  • Dion was merely bad when Iggy was terrible. Attack ads on them worked so well because each worked so hard to prove the attack ad true.

    By Anonymous chuckercanuck, at 9:05 a.m.  

  • I respect Stephane Dion, and agree with your comment.

    Now, picking on Michael Igantieff, as was done to Mr. Dion, would only add insult to injury.

    We have to grow up and learn our lessons.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9:28 a.m.  

  • Dion has my respect. If he were running in my riding, I'd vote for him - as long as he wasn't the party leader.

    And as leader, he far exceeded my expectations. When he was elected, he couldn't even campaign in English (not effectively). But with the help of a sympathetic media, he campaigned well.

    In any case, the Liberals chose Dion. Arguably the Liberal party deserves ridicule for that choice - what were you thinking!!!??? - but Dion himself deserves nothing but respect.

    As for Ignatieff, please answer this question: Who was in the Liberal brain trust that persuaded Iggy to leave his job as a professor (which by all accounts he was good at) to come and try to be a big fish in the small pond of Canada?

    And once you've identified the talent scouts that recruited Iggy, make sure they never wield influence in the party ever again.

    P.S. Are any credible candidates for party leader waiting in the wings?

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 9:42 a.m.  

  • P.S. Just to be clear - Ignatieff has my respect, too. Like Dion: he wasn't suited for party leader, he had a poor campaign strategy and
    was saddled with a dysfuntional party. But campaigning for Prime Minister isn't for the faint-hearted and he performed honorably.

    By Blogger Brian from Toronto, at 9:47 a.m.  

  • I think even though Liberals may have hated the attack ads, we may still have absorbed some of the message. Dion's not a leader, so we have to get him -- as people noted, Turner got at least two kicks at the can.

    Anyone have any ideas on how to avoid the turkey shoot for the next one?

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 9:50 a.m.  

  • I know there are a large number of head-in-sand-type Liberals who actually didn't know that until this election, but surely YOU did, didn't you? Come on, CG, really?

    I think I've made it fairly clear after both the previous elections that, in my opinion, the problems with this party weren't just about leadership.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:17 a.m.  

  • Not to throw anything at Dion, I believe he is fine as MP, but to conclude that he should be good as a party leader, there is a line to not cross. There is a large difference between being a good MP and a good party leader.

    Yes I still think apologies may be in order from those who dissed him. To throw the stones at the guy that was elected by his peers.

    As for Michael Ignatieff, I believe he was much better as a leader for Liberal. But he was victim of a smear campaign from day one, like Dion, and that's the repugnant part. For the rest, well, we know.

    By Blogger Hub, at 11:10 a.m.  

  • The guy who just resigned as Liberal leader was unable to beat Stephane Dion in the last legitimate Liberal leadership race. That should have been reason enough NOT to go with him after Mr. Dion self-immolated during coalition-gate.

    By Anonymous Terrance, at 11:10 a.m.  

  • P.S. Are any credible candidates for party leader waiting in the wings?

    The media seems to be pushing for Dominc LeBlanc and for Justin Trudeau. In politics, they're both relatively young.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 11:12 a.m.  

  • In that they're both not over fifty.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 11:13 a.m.  

  • The Liberal's problem is that Dion was right. He was the first leader of any of the big parties to make a serious attempt to bring environmentalism into the mainstream of Canadian politics. It seems bloody obvious to me that that's the way of the future. Instaed of throwing out the baby and the bathwater, the Liberals should get back on the Dion message and have faith in it.

    By Anonymous Jeff, at 11:17 a.m.  

  • Um, in answer to one comment above, Dalton McGuinty's first outing in 1999 was not at all like Stephane Dion's in 2008. McGuinty gained in both seats (+5) and votes (+8.8%), whereas Dion lost a quarter of his Caucus (-26) and 4% of the popular vote.

    Stephane was a principled but stubborn mildly delusional man who had no business being Leader, other than that he emerged from a plague-on-both-your houses convention as the least offensive choice.

    The debacle of the 2008 coalition attempt - not the concept but the staggeringly inept delivery was what finally drove him out and rightly so. If you are going to make a play like that, you had better get it right. No home videos and don't be stupid in putting Duceppe on the stage with you then trying to sell it outside Quebec.

    By Anonymous Karl, at 11:26 a.m.  

  • I know its somewhat unseemly after this drubbing we took on Monday, but I feel somewhat vindicated in sticking by Dion all these years. I felt that he was treated terribly by the party apparatus, and in particular by the candidates who started fighting a leadership election in the middle of the 2008 election campaign.

    I wouldn't suggest that he take on the leadership role again, but I can't really think of anyone more qualified, except possibly Ralph Goodale, to serve as interim leader in the House while we search for someone to helm our party. That search needs to begin quickly (if for no other reason than it's how I'd want to distract myself from the misery of Monday).

    By Blogger Matthew Naylor, at 11:37 a.m.  

  • I wouldn't suggest that he take on the leadership role again, but I can't really think of anyone more qualified, except possibly Ralph Goodale, to serve as interim leader in the House while we search for someone to helm our party.

    Ralph Goodale seems to have a good idea what the party's going to face in Ottawa.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 12:20 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Pammy, at 12:25 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:27 p.m.  

  • The problems with the Liberal Party go back to 1984 and the backroom manipulations/machinations to replace Trudeau as leader. From what I have seen in the last (nearly) 3 decades nothing has changed. The problem is the obsession with power in the backrooms rather than concern about the country and its people. Unless the Liberal party starts connecting again with the people (like it did when PET swept onto the scene) and finds a hook or two to hang its policy on, it will continue to languish in the backwaters of opposition. If it doesn't implode, that is.

    By Blogger Pammy, at 12:28 p.m.  

  • In that they're both not over fifty."

    Let's have some perspective here. You want young party leaders because it's going to be years before the grits become official opposition again.

    I think that it is important to have young leaders who can forget the old ways.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 12:29 p.m.  

  • Stephane Dion is 10 times the Parliamentarian as Ignatieff, maybe more. Which is why he still has his seat.

    Ignatieff's people were relentless in their attempts to undermine Dion, including deliberately letting Outrement fall to the NDP.

    Now they have their just rewards. It's only too bad Coderre didn't lose his seat to the NDP.

    If he weren't also a completely dedicated Liberal and tireless party worker, I would think he would cross the floor and join Elizabeth May. He deserved better from the Liberal Party.

    Ignatieff was an interloper, whose people succeeded in undermining the Party, which is what they set out to do. He deserves nothing.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:37 p.m.  

  • An interesting autopsy of the Liberal Party of Canada and the how it set the conditions for its own demise:

    By Blogger Pammy, at 1:49 p.m.  

  • My guess is Rae will be the interim leader if he decides not to run for the top job. He'd really be the best choice for it, since he can still deliver lines that will catch the media's attention, in both languages.

    If he decides to run for leadership, Goodale would be the logical choice. At this point, I can't really think of anyone else - piacking Dion would be moving backwards at a time when the party needs to look forward.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:08 p.m.  

  • Rae is a bad idea since he already favours merging with the NDP.

    Goodale does not speak French which even as an interim leader does not look good.

    There must be someone else.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 p.m.  

  • Dion was a sincere, upright, decent guy, but had some serious communication (and staffing) issues.

    The other problem was not doing anything on the environment file, for years....then purporting to be the saviours via the Green Shift - which simply made the thing look like merely just another shortcut/gimmick (like Iggymainia!)towards regaining power.

    Great idea - terrible execution...

    By Anonymous timv, at 5:59 p.m.  

  • People, the "coalition" was Dion's brain child!

    As for the Green Shift, the Liberals actually did a nice job boiling down what the tax shift was. "Less on what you earn more on what you burn." However, the Liberals were never going to be able to explain to the public just what is "burnt" and as a result how such a shift would effect the cost of any number of goods and services. The Conservatives gave them an answer. It would be a "tax on everything". Naturally some Canadians were convinced that this was simply a tax increase in disguise. But the kicker was this. I do not care what Canadians told polling companies about climate change. No one I mean no is ever going to be excited over a tax shift. Making the central plank of his platform something that did not offer a single tangible benefit Canadians just went to show how hopeless Dion was as a politician and why he needed to be ushered out the door as soon as possible.

    By Blogger Koby, at 7:52 p.m.  

  • Rarely disagree with CG's insights, but Dion might have as well signed the following:


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:43 p.m.  

  • I agree the Liberal party movers and sshakers owe Stephan Dion an apology. Had he had more experienced support from them he might well have become the best PM since Pearson. He is a genuinely decent man, with wonderful instincts for the future. The coalition attempt was badly handled and showed his political inexperience. I hope the Liberal party seeks out his advice and judgement when they begin to formulate a future direction for the party. Elizabeth Johns

    By Anonymous Elizabeth Johns, at 10:28 p.m.  

  • I don't think Dion is blameless in this mess. His bungling probably enabled an NDP victory in Outremont - the point of origination for the Orange Crush. He is also responsible for placing the coalition millstone over Ignatieff's neck (and if you are pro-coalition, it is fair to say that he bungled the sales-pitch on that one), which is at least partly responsible for the Liberal fortunes in 2011. But most importantly, he failed to rebuild the Liberal organization during his time as leader. In 2007 and 2008 the Liberals barely beat the NDP in fundraising.

    That said, if the Liberals are going to survive, the blame game isn't going to get them there.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 1:12 a.m.  

  • Trudeau might as well be the kiss of death for the Liberal party. You can definitively kiss goodbye to the West and Québec outside Montréal if he's leader.

    Will the Tories actually bother running attack ads on the next Liberal leader? That'd be like kicking someone while he's down, which could backfire. Plus, weakening the Liberals too much at this point might mean merger, which Harper probably doesn't want.

    By Blogger Election Watcher, at 2:17 a.m.  

  • Hosertohosier should learn more about Stephen Dion before blaming him for not rebuilding the Liberal party in his short tenure (shortest in the history of the LP) I recommend an article on SD in wikipedia that explains not only his goaals for the LP and the country but also the obstacles and virtual undermining of his leadership that he faced, even to the undermining of the race in Quebec that brought Thomas Mulcair into parliament. One other thing. some of the viewpoints expressed in this forum refers to Dion as stubborn. If Dion is stubborn I wonder what these commenters woulld say about Chretien and Trudeau. I am ssure they were not too pliable but no one ever used the word stubborn to describe their steadfastness to their principles. Elizabeth Johns

    By Anonymous Elizabeth Johns, at 7:39 a.m.  

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