Monday, October 20, 2008

Get Over It - He Was No Messiah!

I carry no brief for any Liberal insider, no preference for who ought to become the next leader of the LPC. None, I'm neutral.

I wanted Dion to step down solely on performance reasons. I read a post the other day that described Mr. Dion as a person best suited to serve as Prime Minister but ill-suited to becoming elected Prime Minister.

The fury and outrage of Dion loyalists is profound. I realize that, in any party, there are people who are more closely attached to an individual than to the party. I confess to a bit of that myself when I was young and Pierre Trudeau was our leader. Maybe it's something one grows out of, who knows?

Not all of our party's leaders have been iconic. Some, such as Mr. Chretien, caught an awful lot of breaks. Brian Mulroney, after all, left the PCPC in a shambles when Mr. Chretien stepped in and the right remained terminally divided during the Chretien years. I liked Mr. Chretien and happily supported him but I never overlooked the role that circumstances not of his or our party's making had in his success.

So, now we must seek a new leader. Good, I hope we can focus on finding someone who will unite and motivate the party as Mr. Dion never managed to do. We have to ensure that the next leader has the aptitude for the job, an ability to connect with voters outside today's narrow Liberal realm. That will be a leader with vision, political acumen, solid communication skills and the charisma essential to motivate voters who stayed away from the polls last week or who voted for Mr. Harper because they saw no viable alternative.

We need a leader, now more than ever.


David Graham - said...

Your title expresses neatly everything that is wrong with this party.

Our chronic case of "messiah syndrome" will make us go through leader after leader until we realise that the problem isn't at the top, it's all the way through.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well David, that's two of us. Now, how do we get that across to the rest?


Anonymous said...




Anonymous said...

There are a lot more "of us" than there are of the James C. ilk....thankfully.

David Graham - said...

mound of sound -- you agree that Messiah Syndrome is the problem, and then demand a messiah for the party.

It is precisely that attitude that regicide will fix all that ails that has put us in the predicament we are in.

penlan said...


How can you agree with David after stating we need a "charismatic" leader? Doesn't make sense in relation to what you said in the post.

The Party needs fixing from the inside out - not from the outside in, so to speak. One person can't do it all.

The Mound of Sound said...

I doubt very much that Mr. Volpe has what this party needs right now. Then again, I'd probably instinctively say the same thing about Ignatieff or Rae. Go figure.

It's curious that, when we most need to be expansive in securing the best leadership possible, we seem to narrow our focus to the same four or five prospects.

What troubles me is that each of the "frontrunners" has a camp of followers but an equal or even greater camp of extremely hostile dissenters.

I think these people rule out the prospect of delivering one of the crucial things this party needs - harmony.

Oh well, each to his own.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well David and Penlan, let me explain. Having a charismatic leader doesn't equate to a messianic leader. charisma is simply one of the essential qualities to electability, nothing more or less.

Let me give you an example. I covered the 1974 election campaign (yes we actually voted back then). It came down to Pierre Trudeau versus Bob Stanfield.

Mr. Stanfield was, like Mr. Dion, a thoroughly decent and well-intentioned leader but he totally lacked charisma. If he'd been even moderately charismatic I think the PCs would have taken that election.

In any job there is a basket of essential traits and aptitudes necessary for the job. In political leadership, charisma is one of those. If you want to see its power, look at Bill Clinton.

The qualities I'm ascribing to leadership aren't messianic at all. And yes, I know this party requires a good shakeup all the way through.

The title of this piece responds to those who seem to think the world is collapsing with the departure of Mr. Dion.

No leader of any viable political party is a Messiah. Except, perhaps, Stephen Harper.

Fish said...

I still say Dion should have stayed, but there's no point in dwelling on it now.

What you wrote about the Messiah syndrome in your post and you comments is dead on. I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing people compare all of our leaders and leadership hopefuls to Trudeau! I suppose Justin's presence on the Hill is not going to help things either.

At any rate, you're right about one thing. We need a leader with charisma. May the best person win!

Austin said...

I for one, would be interested to hear who you or anyone else believes would fit the bill.

If people do not want to unite, no amount of urging will change their behaviour. If people don't want to listen, no amount of discussion will change their minds. If people don't want to get off their asses, then no amount of cajoling will make them do otherwise.

The desire to turf Dion from the outset of his successful bid for leadership is symptomatic of a larger problem with the party, and will do absolutely nothing to solve it.


catnip said...

Volpe? rofl

The Mound of Sound said...

Austin, I don't know who is best to succeed Mr. Dion. I'll have to wait to see who is willing to take on the job and what each has to offer. I sure hope we're not left with a rehash of the Ignatieff/Rae/Kennedy contest. We have to do better than that at breathing some life back into the LPC.

Frank4PM said...

As Kinsella writes of the essential characteristics of the next leader: "Those are, by the way: no debt, and a demonstrated ability to fundraise; economic cred, and a record of balancing the books; an ability to unite and inspire Grits and Canadians alike; and a plan to take the Liberal Party back to the centre. That's it. A fondness for Bart the Fish, and old school punk rock, also wouldn't hurt."

It isn't about a leader who will win again, but a leader who will win again because they have the proven history of leadership needed to rebuild the party.

Charisma is part of that because the leader will need to re-engage and re-invigorate Canadians and particularly longtime Liberals who have lost the desire to get involved.

Personally, I know who I think fits that bill (plus he wouldn't be running from Toronto, a decided plus when the party has been reduced to Montreal and Toronto as its base). But like I said it's not because I think he's The One, but because of his record and his experience and his abilities.

Others will of course disagree with my conclusion of who, but I hope none disagree with the criteria of the ideal candidate.

Anonymous said...

If you want Charisma.Ignatieff had it 25 years ago.

Anonymous said...

MOS.....this is a bit off topic but you have the time and ware-for-all to travel this country from one end to the other, voicing what you have said in the above comments. The Libs need someone who is not wanting to be leader to get them back on track regarding what should be important to the party rebuilding.....and it isn't looking at "old has-beens" to become leader. My other comment is this: Why does a country like Canada with only 34 million people have all these parties including Provincial (Quebec) parties, sitting in Ottawa? It so divides the country. We can talk about the freedom to form the party of choice but in the long run, it hurts the country. Morris

The Mound of Sound said...

Unfortunately,M., there never seems time to get ourselves on track except during the madness of leadership campaigns. Mr. Pearson had the foresight to cajole fresh blood into joining his caucus, people like Trudeau and Lalonde, which ensured at least some options for renewal.

It really is the party leader who needs to position the party to be prepared for the coming decade. In Mr. Dion's case that just wasn't possible when he was far too busy playing catch-up.

I fear the party has descended into cliques that transform the LPC into a dysfunctional hotbed of intrigue and supposed slights. That only leaves the party in a state of constant turmoil.

Somehow these forces need to be purged. That said, I don't see the solution in trying to mimic the Tories "strongman" approach either.

Why all these parties? Why indeed? It seems to speak of the inability of party leadership to be more inclusive. You wind up with narrow-agenda parties, such as the Bloc and Greens.

I don't think it helps the country to have a party attain a majority with less than 40% of the popular vote. Yet Mr. Harper came very close to doing just that. Then again, the US example shows how, in a 2-party state, the parties can come to closely resemble each other allowing the public a very limited choice in policy. (Hint - that's how they became so phobic to the notion of "socialism" albeit any society that has a public fire department or public library or public schools has embraced a measure of socialism.)

I don't know but I'm starting to think that politics just gets increasingly frustrating was we get older and jaded.