Monday, May 12, 2008

A Pox on All Their Houses

Who is going to lead Canada's next majority government?

I don't know and neither do you because that person hasn't won their party's leadership yet.

Neither Stephen Harper nor Stephane Dion has struck the essential chord with the Canadian public to lift their parties out of the minority rut. If anything, each is propping up the other's mediocre performance. The best thing Stephane has going for him is Stephen and the best thing Stephen has going for him is Stephane.

Stephen has shown even the Tory faithful that he's a cold, secretive, manipulative guy, the sort few are willing to trust. Stephane has shown himself a weak and uninspiring leader with utterly atrocious communications skills.

Now before you jump on me for critiquing Stephane Dion, think about this. When you run for the leadership of a party, you're representing that you have the skills and the aptitude for the job. You're representing yourself to be able to reach beyond card-carrying party faithful and connect with the general public. After you win that leadership you have to make good on those promises. All you won was the right to lead but you have to perform and perform well.

Stephane Dion is a good man. He's certainly intelligent and well-intentioned. He probably has enough skills to get at least a passing grade. It's on the other part, aptitude, that he fails badly. It's the aptitude that's necessary to reach out to the general public - charisma, confidence, clarity. This is where Mr. Dion repeatedly comes up empty.

Stephane Dion's command of the English language is not good and it's not one bit better than it was when he was running for the leadership. He ought to have dealt with that, he plainly hasn't and that's inexcusable.

So, let's clean house. It's time for an election. Conventional wisdom in Liberal ranks holds that Mr. Dion, regardless of his performance, has won the right to lead our party into the next election. If that's the way things are then, fine, let him lead but let's get this over with so that the Liberal Party of Canada can actually move ahead.

Look at it this way. The first party, Liberal or Conservative, to move to a powerful, effective leader will form the next majority government of Canada. Wouldn't it be great if that party was ours?


Anonymous said...

I think it is fine for you to critique Dion in this fashion so not questioning your overall critique.

However, I do disagree with you on Dion's English. It has improved considerably since he won the leadership position.

I've even heard a couple of interviews recently where his English was quite good - conversational English even.

I think if the conservatives hope to score points on that in debates and election, they'll find themselves looking foolish.

I would also add, in agreement to part of your critique, that if he was naturally inspiring, the English flaws would never have mattered. Inspiration translates well in any language. So the focus on that says something anyway.

The Mound of Sound said...

Joseph, I'll have to take your word for the supposed improvement of Dion's English. I certainly haven't noticed it. Still, wouldn't it be a relief to have a powerfully inspriring leader - say, Louise Arbour? I would draft that woman in a heartbeat if I thought there was any chance of her taking the job.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your posts for sometime and I know that you have legitimate and grave concerns about Canada's involvement in Afghanistan. Given this and your obvious (and understandable) lack of enthusiasm for Dion, how do you continue to support this party? The LPC got us into this war in the first place and they have supported its continuation not once but twice! Every time the LPC caucus turns around they prop up Harper and his cronies. Dion has been essentially absent on the enviro file by voting against an NDP confidence motion on the environment. The LPC caucus is prepared to throw ethno-cultural communities, a vital constituency for the party under the Conservative bus.
What more in god's name does the LPC have to do to loose the support of progressive Liberal voters? Let's not even discuss the liberal social conservative caucus that votes to restrict choice and against equal marriage. I have honestly never understood it.
The progressive wing of the LPC will always have to suck it up because they will only ever get election time pandering and their principles will always take a back seat whenever the LPC regain power. Gaining and keeping power always trumps principle with the brass of this party and it always will. For those not familiar with what the ndp is doing and saying - check out the website (

Anonymous said...

jack layton is a dink.....he knows the liberals are not going to vote for his stupid ideas and he keeps putting forward these motions not for canada .but for jack

The Mound of Sound said...

Why do I support the Liberals? The bottom line is that I don't want to waste my vote on the NDP. A party that is doing well to get 14% support isn't going to form a government and I'd sooner be a progressive Liberal than a conservative NDP. I don't support extreme ideologies of the right or the left.

I freely find fault with my party. I can't think of a single Liberal government I haven't found fault with and yet I believe that the LPC is Canada's best hope for meaningful progress. Besides, I can't stand Jack Layton's aluminum siding salesman's moustache.

Anonymous said...

Well, a cheesy moustache is enough to ignore principle??? I recognize that the NDP doesn't get the polling numbers nationally but national poll numbers don't reflect seat numbers in a parliamentary system. So long as soft liberal voters who are progressive continue to support the LPC, a party that only marginally or occasionally reflects their core values than it will be forever thus. You may never change your voting pattern but for those reading this blog I would encourage you to vote your hopes not your fears to vote for real change and not for more of the same (

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes J, this is Canada. A cheesy moustache trumps principle every time! What I'd like to see are more moderate NDP supporters join the Libs to swell the ranks of the progressives so that they could have more influence on the next government of Canada. Better to work from the inside than to gaze from the sidelines.

Anonymous said...

Well, sorry but I hope that doesn't happen. I have zero faith that the LPC will ever be sufficiently progressive in actions to warrant my support. BTW - I am a moderate New Democrat. Moderation does not mean that I am prepared to set aside principle whenever the party brass blows their whistle. Unfortunately, that is what is asked of progressive LPC folks (IMHO).

The Mound of Sound said...

Despair not, J. I've been thinking a lot lately about government as it will have to become in order to meet so many emerging and escalating challenges - environmental, population, security, resource exhaustion, water depletion, migration and so many others. These are challenges that will absolutely have to be met and, I suspect, will require a transformational change in our political institutions. Some of the things that divide us will become irrelevant while some of the things that unite us will likely fail us in one way or another. Will our political parties consolidate and strengthen or will we see the emergence of several new movements that dilute political strength and effectiveness? We can't dismiss these challenges, they aren't going away. We're going to have to adapt and that'll require a lot of adjustments - individually, socially, economically and politically. Interesting times lie ahead and that makes me reluctant to embrace any political party too closely.