Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Looking Back, the Road Ahead

I'm sure there will be plenty written about Stephane Dion's victory in the coming days. Mainly because, now that this race is done, everybody is going to need something to write about. But, before then, here's a look back and a look ahead at the seven who made it all the way to Montreal:

Martha Hall Findlay

Why She Lost: Winning was never about winning. For Martha, this was about making a name for herself and raising her profile in the party. I think it's safe to say she exceeded everyone's expectations; not so much on delegate totals, but on the credibility she's earned in this party.

The future: As one of only two candidates to endorse Dion and as the only female left in the race at it's conclusion, one imagines a seat in the GTA will be opened up for her by the next election. It also stands to reason that a seat in the front benches will be opened up for her once she's elected.

Joe Volpe

Whe he lost: Let me count the ways. Volpe was never going to win, but no one really imagined that his campaign would run off the rails the way it did. In a leadership race which showed that the grass roots can beat the backrooms, Volpe's old school politics were his undoing.

The future: For the sake of party unity, it would be foolish of Dion to marginalize Volpe in the party and he's likely still in the next Liberal Cabinet if he runs again. But any hope of career advancement is as dead as his supporters.

Scott Brison

Why he lost: The income trust story was the worst possible way imaginable to launch a leadership bid. But what really did Brison in was the general sense that he just wasn't ready for prime time.

The future: His poor showing and endorsements of, first Rae, then Iggy, certainly haven't done him any favours. Nevertheless, it's hard to deny that Brison is a rising star in this party. Still, no one wants to lose three leadership races before they turn 45 so unless Dion gets a decade as party leader (which is possible), it might be wise for Scott to sit the next one out.

Ken Dryden

Why he lost: Let's put it this way. Even Ken wouldn't have won 7 Stanley Cups if he played for the Leafs. You're only as good as the team around you and while Dryden had great people working for him, he just never recruited enough organizers to mount a serious bid. No doubt his somewhat unfounded reputation for being a boring speaker and shaky French turned a lot of people off.

The future: His leadership ambitions have come and gone, but the most respected candidate at the start of the race is even more highly thought of now. As long as he sits in the house, he'll be the conscience of the Liberal Party - our own Ed Broadbent.

Gerard Kennedy

Why he lost: There are two competing theories and I'm not sure which one I subscribe to. The "3 vote" theory says that had he been ahead of Dion on the first ballot, things would have played out differently. Kennedy had 17 Alberta delegates disqualified by Rae on Friday and a dozen snowed in from BC - maybe that would have made a difference. The other theory is that Dion had all the momentum and would have passed him regardless. If that's the case, then Kennedy's inability to be perceived as a serious candidate by both media and delegates was what did him in.

The future: The future looks bright. Kennedy's stature in the party has been raised immensely by this race and he's the undisputed heir apparent at this point. He's a young man who had a lot of young volunteers who will not doubt be with him whenever we do this again. In the meantime, he can work on his French, get some federal experience, and experiment with different haircuts. But for those fearing a repeat of the Martin/Chretien wars, keep in mind that Gerard stayed loyal to McGuinty after losing in '96 and crowned Dion himself this time so I'm positive he'll be a loyal Liberal soldier.

Bob Rae

Why he lost: Rae got 6 of the 10 candidates who dropped to come his way, had 2 million dollars to spend, but just couldn't excite grass roots Liberals. Some will point to his record as Ontario Premier, but I suspect it was his newness to the party which turned many off.

Let's talk about the future: Hopefully Rae runs in the next election, although that's probably a 50/50 wager at this point.

Michael Ignatieff

Why he lost: It's hard not to feel a little sorry for Michael Ignatieff. Like Dion said, Iggy took his lumps as frontrunner all summer long. In the end, he just didn't have the political experience neccesary and it showed on the campaign trail.

The future: Michael Ignatieff still has a lot to offer the Canadian Parliament and the Liberal Party. Dion would be wise to use this man as much as possible.


  • Would it really be so dangerous to leave someone like Uncle Joe Volpe out of the next cabinet? Certainly someone so plagued by scandal (unabashed and unrepetant)during the leadership race would come with some baggage for the party! Sure, Rae had Rae Days, but taking money from children just SOUNDS evil, legality aside!

    By Blogger Mr.E, at 5:49 p.m.  

  • I disagree dude

    Brison is as dead as they come after this debauchery. Principles to the wind, his ambition is plastered on his forehead.

    I would leave him out of the next Cabinet if elected as well. Just because he is the only Nova Scotian who ran, does not mean he is the one best suited for Cabinet.

    By Blogger Anthony, at 6:03 p.m.  

  • I agree with Antonio on Brison. He was the candidate which disappointed me the most this Convention. I'm still trying to figure out his angle with the enviro video. What the??

    Kennedy - "...and experiment with different haircuts." Let us only hope :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:30 p.m.  

  • yah I disagree about Brison, he demostrated that he is a major player in this party by his performance over the course of this leadership race.

    Furthermore this party is heading left of centre and it is goign to be important to have some right leaning MP's in cabinet when we win the next election (hopefully). This is why having guys like Ignatieff, Brison, Bevilaqua in cabinet will be very important and necessary.

    By Blogger Noah, at 6:44 p.m.  

  • It was disgraceful that a seat wasn't found for MHF in the last election after she took on a Tory star candidate as a sacifical lamb and almost won, moved to the riding and worked hard, then stepped aside when the Tory crossed the floor.

    Perhaps a place can be found for Volpe that isn't quite as prominent as administrating a department- chief whip, house leader, something along those lines.

    Brison has a big advantage in that, apart from Stronach, there is no Liberal so hated by the Conservatives and so apt to make them show their true colours.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 7:06 p.m.  

  • "It was disgraceful that a seat wasn't found for MHF in the last election after she took on a Tory star candidate as a sacifical lamb..."

    That's not really the case. She did not take on BS as a sacrificial lamb in 2004, she did because she was the best Liberal candidate for that riding - her own riding. I am not sure that she would have had as close a result by being parachuted somewhere else in 2006.

    By Blogger Mark, at 7:21 p.m.  

  • hammering - the Globe has them up on their website under their Liberal leadership section.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 7:35 p.m.  

  • As for who's in Cabinet - leaving Volpe out would be understandable, it just opens up problems since he'd do everything to undermine the leader at that point. Give him a harmless position.

    Brison may have hurt his stock this race but he's still a great performer in the House of Commons and a young star. You probably don't give him Finance, but he's certainly deserving of a Cabinet position.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 7:36 p.m.  

  • You probably don't give him Finance, but he's certainly deserving of a Cabinet position.

    President of the Treasury Board perhaps.

    By Blogger Zac, at 7:47 p.m.  

  • May I just post that it was an honour to meet you Dan (I can use your name on ehre now, right? Its tough not to use 'Bart' on here)

    By Blogger Oxford County Liberals, at 7:49 p.m.  

  • Mark, her Wiki bio says:

    Hall Findlay, still resident in Collingwood, was parachuted into the riding at a relatively late date. She came within 689 votes of defeating Stronach.

    Hoping to defeat Stronach in the next election, Hall Findlay moved to Newmarket—Aurora and became active in the Liberal party and the local community.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 8:07 p.m.  

  • With respect, Antonio, I think it would be a mistake to sideline Brison. He's an able parliamentarian, and he was likely aware of the odds on the last ballot, when he moved to Ignatieff.

    By Blogger Jason Townsend, at 8:09 p.m.  

  • "The future looks bright. Kennedy's stature in the party has been raised immensely by this race and he's the undisputed heir apparent at this point"

    If Dion doesn't do well, won't Kennedy get the blame. Kennedy gambled, making sure the next leader wouldn't be a Quebecker but may be the target of a lot of resentment from the Liberal old guard. If Dion stumbles, Kennedy does too.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 8:23 p.m.  

  • 3ml - You can't win a campaign without strategists and organizers. Obviously Dion, Kennedy, and every other campaign had those - both from the old guard and the new.

    What point are you trying to get across?

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 8:28 p.m.  

  • I hope David Orchard is in the shadow cabinet.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 10:28 p.m.  

  • 3-whatever wrote: "You claim this was party renewal - in reality it was nothing except throwing out the old backroom power brokers for a new younger set."

    It remains to be seen whether the people who worked their hearts out for their preferred candidates - and who did nothing improper - will become the next set of power brokers or not. At the moment, all they have done is get their candidate elected party leader.

    It's going to take some time for the country to see how any of these people perform in parliament. And it will only be possible to use terms like "dynasty" if and when #3's prophecy comes true. If it ever does.

    Ignatieff was the preferred person when the delegates were chosen but managed to disqualify himself before the convention with his numerous inexperienced gaffes. He's a good man, however.

    Iggy was also a perfect gentleman after the final ballot, moving to have the vote declared unanimous. Perhaps his supporters should take a leaf out of his book and learn how to lose (or win) with dignity and grace.

    Canadians have been very favourably impressed by Dr. Iggy's comportment on the week-end, and have much higher opnions of him as a result. He is not an old man, even if the numbers sound elderly to 20-somethings. From where I am, he's a kid!! Who knows how the future will unfold for him??

    But it is time to move on - if you think the Liberals may be better for the country than the present government.

    By Blogger Penelope Persons, at 10:46 p.m.  

  • Scott Brison truly makes me sick - his constant spin was tiresome years ago. He was dishonest and lacking sincerity many moons before U Happy? hit.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:00 p.m.  

  • Uh oh, someone's a Bitter Betty - Red Rover, Red Rover, I call 3ML over!

    Dion didn't win because of "new powerbrokers" - give me a break. As a non-partisan voter, I'm actually really happy to see the Liberal backroom stood up by grassroots.

    An anyone-but-Ignatieff movement is valid, if that's how the majority of delegates felt in their hearts. If an anyone-but-Dryden movement had won it for Ignatieff, you'd be doing backflips - so your hypocrisy is evident for all to see.

    Ignatieff lost because he behaved like an idiot - not because of "new powerbrokers" (please, PLEASE, can the "old powerbrokers" be retired now?). I was enthused about Ignatieff early, but he disappointed me too many times.

    The will of the vote-casters chose someone besides your guy - that happens to everyone in our continent, so welcome to real life.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:06 p.m.  

  • Dan your own chosen cadidate made party renewal his big issue. He sold out, and his supporters sold out.

    How did Kennedy sell out? By supporting Dion?

    Everyone can guess how different your tune would be if he'd supported Ignatieff. Whom exactly do you hope you're fooling here?

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:08 p.m.  

  • D/art, it may sound silly, and maybe it is, but if Kennedy had looked all campaign like he does now - he'd've done better, I think. But hey, he's got a role in the future, and how many of us can say that?

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:09 p.m.  

  • Before any of us talk about "next cabinet" let's figure out where we win the 25 seats to get there.

    By Blogger Mark, at 11:11 p.m.  

  • Where to win them? I expect a lot of NDP and Conservative seats in Ontario to go Liberal and the Quebec seat count to go to at least 25, while the Cons lose at least half of theirs there.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 11:28 p.m.  

  • Oh - and from Paul Wells:

    Mmm, time for crow, Denis Coderre

    My translation of a Presse canadienne story:

    The Liberal Party of Canada is rising in voter intention in Quebec, according to the results of a Léger marketing poll revealed by the TVA network, Tuesday night.

    If elections had taken place Sunday, the day after Stéphane Dion became leader of the party, the Liberals would have obtained 35 per cent of votes, two points behind the Bloc Québécois led by Gilles Duceppe, which would have won 37%. Stephen Harper's Conservatives would have had to content themselves with a mere 17% of votes, followed by the NDP at 6%.

    The Liberals have thus gained 9 points in voter intentions in only a week, whereas every other party has lost ground in the same period. ...

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 11:30 p.m.  

  • Dan your own chosen cadidate made party renewal his big issue. He sold out, and his supporters sold out.
    If your definition of "sold out" was to vote for another leadership candidate because your man/women was dropped or going to have dropped soon enough, then sure, lots of Liberals "sold out" this past weekend. While there are some valid things that you say 3ml, you raise more questions than answers, just like X Files, but then again, that's why I didn't like X Files. I sense much hate in you young padawan!

    As for Brison, the man is a firecracker. The man took hit after hit as Minister of Public Works during the Gomery Inquiry, and then fired back with a ferocity that would make even Daryl Stinson (Mr. Gonads & fortitude himself) sit down and be quiet. The man has been plagued himself, but John & Joan Q. Canuck probably don't know as much about the income trust affair as Uncle Joe's delegates representing the extreme ends of the life spectrum (those beyond life, and those just starting it). Brison has charisma, charm, and good hair. Volpe lacks all of these. Does that make my point valid? No, but slightly lighter and comical! teehee

    By Blogger Mr.E, at 12:26 a.m.  

  • You are assuming that all that was required to win was placing ahead of Dion on the first ballot. This presumes that the majority of Dion's supporters would have followed him to Kennedy.

    However, Kennedy had one fatal flaw - his language skills. It isn't just a matter of accent. He doesn't speak French well and his comprehension may not be up to snuff either.

    This isn't insurmountable, but for that reason alone he is not ready to be leader and I don't believe he would have been chosen. He is young, talented and will be ready for the leadership when Prime Minister Dion retires in ten years.

    That said, I realize that Liberals supporting other candidates have a lot to get over. But rerunning the convention to produce a different outcome seems counterproductive.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 12:37 a.m.  

  • Based on that "sold out" definition, every candidate except Rae sold out...

    I think all candidates are entitled to back someone once they realize they can't win.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:53 a.m.  

  • As a delegate from BC, I can say that while weather could have been a factor, it only delayed the flight, not cancel it. Travellers were given the option of changing their flight at no charge due to weather changes. Leaving BC wasn't just a problem of one candidate, but all. It was stressful, but it didn't stop me from getting to Montreal.

    I'm not sure about this "ABI" stuff. I was open to voting for someone else if my candidate dropped off, Iggy included. Who are all these delegates that were sent to vote anyone but him in? The only drawback to supporting Ignatieff were his very rude delegates would have benefitted. And believe me, he had some very rude delegates.

    Kennedy moving over to Dion and being a sell out would also make Dryden's, Hall Findlay's, Brison's, Volpe's all sell outs too.

    As a delegate who supported Dion from the first ballot to the last, I had no idea I was electing a "dynasty". Wow. I didn't know I had that much power! Statements like that assume that Kennedy will eventually become leader, followed by Trudeau. Can we please stay in reality here and not make assumptions?

    If anything, delegates just took back power from the backrooms to the convention floor, where it belongs.

    Let's hope at the next convention we truly vote for party renewal and pass a 1 member 1 vote motion.

    By Blogger Tania, at 8:45 a.m.  

  • Frank McKenna? If Dion's leadership is a success, he will be over 65 and out of politics for two decades when the leadership is next available. If Dion's leadership is not a success, the party might be in worse shape than Paul Martin left it. Why would McKenna want the leadership under those circumstances?

    I think it's foolhardy to speculate on future leadership results. Too many unknowns.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 9:22 a.m.  

  • Beyond that, one could ask "who was tapped to replace Martin?"

    By Blogger ¢rÄbG®äŠŠ, at 9:35 a.m.  

  • re: Findlay

    I'm convinced that Belinda Stronach won't be running next time around. That opens up the nomination in Newmarket-Aurora for MHF to run.

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 11:14 a.m.  

  • ..."The AB returning officer said yes and Rae's campaign objected when everyone was already at the convention.

    A very foolish move on the part of the Rae campaign."

    I think so, too. Divisive at the very least. I'm quite happy with Dion being there.

    By Blogger ¢rÄbG®äŠŠ, at 1:41 p.m.  

  • jasen; jnp explains things fairly well.

    It just goes to show why the party will need definitive and nation wide rules the next time it does this thing. The fact that this was ambiguous right up to voting time just goes to show the problems of the system.

    And given the convention dynamics, it probably wasn't a great move by Rae.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:42 p.m.  

  • Given how things turned out, maybe he was hoping the new leader would refuse to sign his nomination papers. :D

    I still find myself wondering if he will find a way not to run or to run and lose... like running in Calgary against Stephen Harper.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 2:07 p.m.  

  • New Decima poll for CP, 1,025 respondents, conducted from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3.

    Lib 35
    Con 31
    NDP 12
    Grn 10

    BQ 41
    Lib 26
    Con 17

    Liberals 15 points ahead of Cons.

    One problem faced by the Liberals is that the numbers only favour them. The Cons have no reason to force an election, and neither do the NDP and BQ.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 2:24 p.m.  

  • That's not a problem - we need the time.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 3:14 p.m.  

  • Not another 3 years!

    The problem is, the numbers are never going to favour all three opposition parties, and we certainly don't want an election when the numbers favour the Conservatives.

    I guess what we need to hope for is a Conservative collapse in Quebec so both the Liberals and BQ are willing to roll the dice.

    Fortunately, I don't think a Conservative collapse in Quebec is exactly unlikely. Maybe we'll be REALLY lucky and Jean Lapierre will cross the floor and become their Quebec lieutenant.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 3:28 p.m.  

  • I had no idea Rae had been such a jackass at the convention - that was indeed very stupid of him. I was a little surprised he didn't win, and my amateur opinion suggests that played a part.

    What a jerk. I really, really liked him - my opinion just went down several notches.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:16 p.m.  

  • The Bloc does not want or need an election. I believe they see Harper as their best bet for winning concession after concession, and prying power away from the federal government to the provincial governments. So their interest is in keeping the Harper minority government alive as long as possible.

    The acid test of my theory comes with the spring budget. The Bloc has set the ransom amount: $3.4 billion to Quebec, or they vote against the budget and cause another election. Harper knows he cannot afford another election right now, so he will probably cave and give the Bloc their ransom.

    This will preserve him in power for another year or so.
    And during this, the Bloc, having called Harper's bluff, will keep demanding things, and Harper will keep giving in.

    So Liberals can expect to spend the next 3 to 4 years in opposition, and now have time to renew the party. We can start with a more democratic way of electing leaders, as Red Tory has suggested. My preference is a Mixed Model, with the delegates at a convention selecting the top two and then all Liberal members having one vote each to choose the leader. We also need to change the way candidates are selected to run for Parliament, as the current system is so open to abuse it is the opposite of democratic. Plus, we need to ensure that women are elected (not just given a chance to run) so that Parliament is more balanced.

    Kennedy and Dion cut a deal to support each other, and they both ran on renewal. Now is the time to start fixing the Party, because it is still badly broken.

    By Blogger CuriosityCat, at 4:43 p.m.  

  • I'd be interested in knowing more about Rae's wrecking Kennedy's bid for leadership. Couldn't find a thing online about it, other than a few rumours on the blogs.

    The only story I could find was this one from the National Post.

    "Gerard Kennedy and Stephane Dion have joined forces with Liberal leadership frontrunner Michael Ignatieff in a bid to nullify most of chief rival Bob Rae's delegate support in British Columbia.

    "Should the trio successfully persuade the party to negate the second-place contender's B.C. delegates, Ignatieff's nine-percentage point lead would widen to about 11 points over Rae, who would be left only marginally ahead of Kennedy and Dion.

    Either politics is a dirty business, or it's all part of a chess game.

    By Blogger Penelope Persons, at 4:53 p.m.  

  • You delegates need to finally admit what you did - you elected a dynasty. Dion - Kennedy - Justin.

    Really? I was one of only four elected Dion delegates from PEI, and I certainly wasn't aware that by electing Dion we committed to who the next two leaders will be (although I am currently favouring Kennedy for that job).

    Here's a hint - Lapierre says he feels no duty to run again.


    I actually ran into Pierre Pettigrew at the Leadership Convention, and it later struck me that when he and Dion arrived in Ottawa in 1996 after those by-elections, Pettigrew was the would-be leadership candidate, and Dion was the backroom guy who was going to do the heavy lifting on the unity file.

    By Blogger IslandLiberal, at 5:40 p.m.  

  • The clear loser in this contest is Michael Ignatieff. His own campaign manager predicted 38% support on the first ballot. After drinking their own bathwater all summer, the folks in camp Iggy believed that their accident-prone candidate was god's very own gift to Liberals and that it was only the mean media who were misinterpreting their candidate's pearls of wisdom.

    The Liberal Party's grassroots were not going to be hoodwinked and the results speak for themselves.

    By Blogger pumpernickel, at 12:02 a.m.  

  • I have to say that Michael Ignatieff and Ken Dryden did a terrific job in the Commons speaking on the Conservative marriage motion.

    As did - and here are words I thought I'd never say - Paul Szabo

    John McKay, on the other hand, made Stockwell Day look intelligent and tolerant.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 12:36 a.m.  

  • CG,
    old school politics is taking shots at people to bring them down. Your constant yet consistent attacks and negative commentary of Joe Volpe continue to amaze me.
    I am still waiting to hear about the names of the 'dead people' volpe signed up. curious how this accusation keeps living on, yet the names never surface, nor blurred out pictures of the membership forms or anything. Please dont suggest that Dion is as stupid as some bloggers out there who would leave Volpe out of cabinet. I understand your feelings were hurt he would not speak to you. Kleenex is cheap now so go buy some, get over the cheap shots phase, and get back to your usual balanced commentary.

    By Blogger kenlister1, at 11:19 a.m.  

  • as far as kennedy goes, let me correct things first.
    Kennedy had 707 delegates register as of Friday december 1, giving him 86% turnout which was a slightly higher turnout than anyone else (CG note this is including volpe).
    Kennedy was well behind Dion because Dion had a deal with martha to have close to 100 ex officios vote for her on the first ballot to give her credibility. Didnt anyone notice MHF elected 38 delegates in total in all of Canada, 34 of them registered, yet she had 130 votes! Dion had enough to pass Kennedy all along. Whether he passed him on the first or second ballot is irrelevant. As far as those Kennedy delegates who were disqualified, i have no knowledge of who they are or why they were and would appreciate more details on it if anyone has. Finally, I believe Kennedy played his hand well. I warned the Iggy people they wouldnt win and they should jump to Dion before Kennedy did. Of course, Ruby Dhalla shrugged off my suggestion. But I think Kennedy knew this was a risk, and that is why he headed over quickly on the floor, instead of an hour later.

    By Blogger kenlister1, at 11:29 a.m.  

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