Friday, October 17, 2008

Is It Really That Difficult for you Dionistas to Understand?

We lost the damned election. We got our sails properly trimmed. We ought to consider ourselves lucky that we held on to Stornoway because I, for one, am not all that sure we deserved it.

Many are running around with the standard, Republican-machine myth that Dion was "stabbed in the back." That's how the Repugs blamed away Viet Nam and it's how they're trying to rid themselves of responsibility for everything from Iraq to Wall Street to Afghanistan.

Steph didn't need anyone to stab him in the back. He was too busy committing Seppuku all on his own.

We entrusted Mr. Dion to lead the party into the next election. That's something of a blank cheque - so long as you win and not a month longer. He was the leader and a lot of us, me included, made that so.

But, in taking on that authority (power he'd asked all of us to entrust to him), Mr. Dion took on a heavy burden of obligation. We weren't saying to him to lead us but to lead us back to power, to government. We trusted Stephane Dion to do the math and steer our party onto the path back.

Mr. Dion accepted that undertaking and he failed us. Yes, he failed us. As reported in today's Toronto Star, Dion was warned by the party's pollster - seven weeks before the election - that a green shift campaign would backfire. It would bring us down. It would cost us seats. I don't need to tell you what he did. We all watched what followed.

You Dionistas act as though this is of no moment. Anything but. Rarely do we get the opportunity to judge the qualities of our own candidate as we did this time. And yet the closer we looked at him, the less there was to support.

Leaving the Green Shift out of this entirely, Dion showed he wasn't fit to lead when he vacillated, prevaricated and. finally, capitulated on Afghanistan. No one who had read his early pronouncements and then witnessed his awful retreat from them could help but see the limits of Mr. Dion's integrity.

You know, there's a reason why the Liberal Party became known as Canada's Natural Governing Party. That's because the party was once a party of Keith Davey liberals who knew that retaining power was the only path to gradual but effective reform.

The LPC and the Canadian voter once shared a common chord. I think Mr. Dion tried and failed to contact that populace. At the end of the day, he allowed "Liberals" to become seen as outsiders.

I believe Stephane Dion may have damaged the Liberal Party more than we'll know for a year or two to come. That's the way these things go. But, in the meantime, both sides need to put the finger pointing and condemnation away and get on with the job of rebuilding what we both ultimately want. The party needs all of us to, for a while, put it first.

25 comments:

Scott Tribe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott Tribe said...

C'mon Mound, you conveniently leave out the part on the Afghanistan file that senior Liberals in his own caucus would have publicly broke with him on that issue,and more then just a couple. He had no choice but to compromise, even if it wasn't perfect.

As for the stab in the back part, Dion won solely by grassroots support in Montreal. I was there to see it as a then neutral blog observer. He had virtually no support in the caucus or the majority of the backroom boys.. and he's been dealing with murmurs and less then loyal footsoldiers ever since then.

Did he do some mistakes? Sure.. but don't lay the blame solely on his feet.

As for the Green Shift, it was the right policy. It may not have been communicated properly bu Dion OR his party (and some didn't seem to want to try), but when 230 economists endorse it.. when all environmental groups endorse it.. and when Bill Clinton comes out today and endorses it while praising Gordon Campbell's courage in implementing it.. that tells you it was the right policy to put in place.

History may show Dion wasn't a good politician, butI believe it will show he was right on this particular issue.

(And remember, Iggy also supported a carbon tax... it was his main plank in running on th environment in the 2006 Convention leadership race).

The Mound of Sound said...

Scott, I don't value the merits of the Green Shift plan. I'm not sure I can name anyone who would support tthat more than I.
It's so important in so many ways that it had to be treated as such. You don't take a huge and critical policy initiative and run it as fodder for Opposition. You're cutting your own throat.

Frankly Scott, I think that Mr. Dion has substantially injured the green shift idea for some time to come. He ought to have realized the likelihood of that when he chose to run a Green Shift platform from an oppoisition weakness.

To me, Scott, that's a deal breaker. It's time to put the party above Mr. Dion.

Austin said...

The only thing you can accuse Dion of is having too much faith in the electorate and the people around him to do their job in pounding the pavement.

The Green shift wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for Dion. And Rae and Ignatieff are devoid of any vision for the party and for the country beyond what their handlers want it to be. They would not have fared any better than what Dion faced over the past 2.5 years.

The party will just be a party of personality camps if Dion is pushed out. And that will be its death.

Austin

James Curran said...

What a crock of shit this post is. And I've come to expect more from you.

You Dionistas? WTF is that? How about referring to us as my fellow Liberals.

The backstabbing was clear from the outset. None of the Iggy PQ bastards could accept the father of the Clarity Act as their leader. It was obvious in that farce of a by-elelction called Outremont where anonymous Liberals (pablo rodriguez and denis corderre) were incessantly blaming the leader. Yes. I name names, and yes I was there.

This party is rancid. Chretien won 3 straight majorities, but that wasn't good enough for Paul Martin, David Herle, Terry O'Leary and Karl Littler. They wanted their own party.

Their own party they got.

Mike Pearson was crushed in his first election but got to stay on for three more. Hell Turner got to stay on too.

But somehow, the most honest of gentlemem in the planet -the author of the Clarity Act, the Canadian father of Kyoto - must go because he never had loyalty from his own backstabbing MPs that couldn't deal with his success.

Is he stubborn. Yes. You bet. Has he learned from that? Probably. Was he unaware of the politics of politics? You bet. Could his inner circle school him? Not fast enough.

This party did nothing to counter 2.5 years of smear campaigns. It did nothing to raise money for itself. It did nothing to renew itself.

In the campaign of 2006 and 2004, I received emails every day form LPC and LPCO with the Liberal policies and talking points for the day. This election? One fucking email. ONE!

Gimme a break. Nobody was trying to win this one. They hung Stephane out to dry.

Should he go? NO!!!

WesternGrit said...

A few points:
- Money was a huge issue in the election for us (lack of it)
- Mr. Dion wasn't "elected" by the grassroots. His original supporters were largely "grassroots" libs, while the other contenders had the caucus lined up, as well as "backroom crew", but Mr. Dion's vote total was quite small, and it took a "backroom deal" by one of the other "players" (Gerard Kennedy) to get Mr. Dion the leadership...
- Green shift is a great idea, and the party needs to incorporate it - WHEN we're in government, but we should really be contrasting it with Harper's cap and trade plan...
- WE - and I mean all of us - did a shitty job of communicating with the public (from top to bottom), but I really think the reason was the lack of funds. I'm pretty sure we didn't really have a war chest. Someone correct me on that...
- We need to poll voters to ask them what they thought of some really objective facts about our leader (so it isn't tainted by the Harper attacks). I ask this, because I heard stuff about him on many doorsteps - and in my own family - that I didn't like, but think that if I rephrase those comments, I'll be called "anti-Dion" - and I'm most definitely not (I want him to stay, as of now)...

Koby said...

James have you heard of Occam's razor? Shaving away your paranoid stab in the back conspiracy theory, the most plausible explanation for why the Liberal vote was down 944,350 outside of Quebec is also the simplest and most straightforward. Canadians did not like Dion or his policies, particularly his green shift.

The sooner Dion goes, the better.

sharonapple88 said...

Whatever side you are on this issues, we all probably agree with Lloyd Axworthy -- this party needs to be rebuilt.

Bringing some points over:

"In assessing campaigns, the media tend to focus on the air war – the leader's tour and the coverage it generates, advertising and the debates. This aspect of campaigning is obviously critical, but without a ground campaign to get voters to the polls the best advertising will not be enough to swing a close election. Parties still need active members. The Liberal party needs them more than most because it has a large potential voter base that needs more encouragement to vote.

"In their preoccupation with leadership, media and party insiders are missing the real issue. The primary challenge for the Liberal party is that its cause is no longer compelling enough to persuade Canadians to give up their leisure time to join its ranks.

"Party renewal, therefore, is not some romantic notion pursued by idealists. Renewal demands hard-headed realism that requires a Liberal party overhaul; rebuilding itself brick by brick, riding-by-riding so it is once again competitive on the ground.

[...}

"So, how can the Liberals get these 100 volunteers per constituency or ensure that a local fundraising campaign reaches the legal limit? Local ridings that raise money should keep more of it, rather than sending it to central headquarters. And party members should have a real say in policy direction. If the Liberal membership, as a whole, had been given the opportunity to debate issues like the Green Shift, the election results might have been different.

"A reformed policy process should begin with a thinkers conference, preferably in Kingston, to remind Liberals of Lester Pearson's great initiative in 1960; every riding should debate the directions suggested and then there should be a great party rally or mass Internet vote to decide on priorities.

"More than a leadership convention, the Liberal party needs a period of self-examination. The good ship Liberal is taking on water and needs to energize her volunteer crew to bail her out."

VW said...

I really think this question needs to be asked.

Not, "Should Dion continue to lead the Liberal Party?", but "Is the Liberal Party worthy of Stephane Dion's leadership?"

And if I were a Liberal, I'd think hard -- real hard -- before answering "yes."

Cliff said...

Geez...you liblogs have this ongoing hatred for all things US...as mentioned in the original post...get over it...and now the back stabbing begins.
While I am obviously not a lefty, the rationalization of trying to blame everything on Dion is simply not fair, nor is it a realization that the problems are much deeper then just a leader.
The problems in the liberal party started decades ago...with the old Chretien / Turner wars...and Cretiens refusal to accept that he had lost fair and square...these battles continued through the Cretien years with the Matin Cretien battles.
To compound this the Chretien governmant was inept and corrupt with many its policies...Adsam, HRDC boondoggle and the gun registry to name just a few. Promises and Red Books were simply an electon items...never menat to be implemented...this leaves lasting memories....
While many Liberals like to point to the slagging of the deficit, any economist will point to the Revision of the tax system (GST) and free trade as the corner stones of the deficit reduction...both policies that the Liberals opposed. The Liberal won maorities during the Cretien years with smaller percentages of the popular vote simply because the Conservatives were divided.
Now...I guess the final point is that the Liberal party has been the party of the corporate elite for way too long...now, I realize this will draw jeers from the liblogs, but the fact of the matter is that the proof is in the fund raising numbers, when the corporate money was taken out of the equation...the liberal money dried up...
To simply blame this on Dion is not to recognize the FACTS...the problems are deep, the organization is now shallow, to solve a problem...any problem...one has to look at the root of the causes. I think all concerned will be better off if there is a deep soul searching...and not just isolated blame...just a little food for thought....

The Mound of Sound said...

I come at this question carrying no brief for any player. James, you plainly colour your take on Mr. Dion with your anger toward MI and others. I don't have that filter. Perhaps that's why I see this more from the perspective of the street vote.
Stephane Dion did not connect with the voters in my riding. We placed fourth in the vote, comfortably behind the Green Party.
Money and flatfootedness were clearly factors here in Nanaimo-Alberni but there was an utter absence of enthusiasm for Mr. Dion that sealed our fate.
What is obvious to me is that another election with the Libs led by Mr. Dion would probably produce even worse results.
He's tied to the saddle of the Green Shift. He can't drop that now but neither can he persuade Canadians to embrace it. It's the combination of Mr. Dion's, shall we call it lack of charisma, together with his poor political judgment and terrible communication skills and a vital policy that he's shown himself incapable of fostering that end the debate.

The sins of Ignatieff or Rae or any of the others are a matter for future consideration. Right now the Liberal car has a flat tire and we need to fix it. Pumping more air into it isn't going to work.

James Curran said...

Here. Let's try this hypothetical out.

You're a lawyer.

I don't like you very much.

Everyday for 2.5 years I run an ad in your local newspaper telling people "you're not a lawyer".

Think you'd have any clientele left at the end of that time period?

It's not over until Monday. and even then, it's only the beginning.

Austin said...

Right...so the car has a flat tire, and you blame the driver.

So change the driver, and what? Is the car going to all of a sudden work?

Brilliant reasoning there.

Lloyd Axworthy and Gerard Kennedy have it right. The problem was with pounding the pavement and the complacency that the older caucus members had. Communicating ideas directly to voters instead of relying on the media or Dion himself to do their job for them. Sitting on their asses and losing is just sad. But blaming Dion is truly pathetic.

This is truly pathetic.

Austin

The Mound of Sound said...

Austin, the flat tire was/is Mr. Dion.

The Mound of Sound said...

James, I wouldn't have let that slur stand unchallenged for 30-months. If someone did that to me, I'd have had the bugger in court for a summary judgment in defamation, damages, punitive damages and an airtight injunction. Then I'd have splashed that judgment around for all to see. It's called fighting back and I know very well how to do that.
I do understand that your example doesn't mirror the situation Mr. Dion endured at Harper's hands.

Austin said...

I see...so your world view is that we choose tires to drive the car...

No wonder you guys don't get it...

Austin

The Mound of Sound said...

Austin, that's a breathtakingly stupid remark. Settle down and try to have an intelligent argument.

Anonymous said...

In reading some of the blogs - James Curran is always wanting a fight. Yup, David Orchard has to be your man or else. Everyone else is wrong and damn you if you don't agree with Curran - take a look at his photo on his blog - Mr. Toughy shot.

Dion didn't listen to his strategy advisors....he didn't listen. He didn't seem to realize that he's not a strategist.

So Curran is going to go around calling people names and showing what a tough guy he is - no impressed at all.

There are "many" factors involved in this, one of which is leadership ability.

Like it or lump it.

Lyn

James Curran said...

Really Lyn? Who's calling people names now?

Give your head a shake.

There's something to be said about loyalty. Dion never got any from his Iggy-dominated caucus. What they did to him was atrocious.

I am loyal to my leader. Can everyone else here say that? Nope.

Go back an play in your sandbox now Lyn.

Austin said...

Austin, that's a breathtakingly stupid remark. Settle down and try to have an intelligent argument.

I see.

In fact I agree with you that it is breathtakingly stupid:

Right now the Liberal car has a flat tire and we need to fix it. Pumping more air into it isn't going to work.

the flat tire was/is Mr. Dion

So tell me...what in your mind is the purpose of a party leader?

Austin

The Mound of Sound said...

Austin, the purpose of a party leader is to lead, to take his party forward and, when possible, to bring it to power by forming a government. That requires a great many skills and talents. It requires a genuine political aptitude and, like it or not, a modicum of charisma.

I read a comment today to the effect that Mr. Dion was entirely suited to be Prime Minister but just not suited to be elected Prime Minister. I think that captures the problem perfectly.

You can have an abundance of great qualifications but if you can't get elected they're just historical notations.

The Green Shift was terrific policy but it wasn't a policy one could win an election on.

I wrote about this early on in the election that something as ambitious as the Green Shift was beyond the ability of an opposition party with limited funds. To really get Canadians to accept it requires the resources of a government to inform and explain and win over the public. It was a disaster as an election platform.

Now, having a wonderful policy but presenting it in a manner in which it is doomed is pretty much self-defeating, don't you agree? What is the point of that? Did Mr. Dion somehow believe he could sell that in the context of an election platform?

I respect Mr. Dion but I care far more for the Liberal Party and he's been a setback for the party. His brand is finished. He won't sell again if we keep him on for the next election.

No, he has to go.

James Curran said...

Let's choose an Ignatieff so the Cons can run ads about his platform that states he wants to impose a carbon tax. Worked well for Dion. Why not?

Or better yet. Bob Rae so the Cons can run non-stop ads about the giant Ontario deficict he left as premier.

Or, a McKenna that isn't bilingual, is anti abortion, etc.

We are doing exactly what the Cons want. Bankrupting a party, kicking out the most honest guy we have, and causing yet another civil war to last for a generation. The only one that can stop this disaster is Stephane Dion.

The Mound of Sound said...

James, please think about what you're saying. It's telling that the only people raising threats of decadal civil war among Liberals are the most fervent Dion supporters.

Yes, he's an honest guy, James. He's all that and so much more. But we need someone who is electable and that isn't Mr. Dion no matter how much you wish it was.

Speaking as a transplanted Westerner (three decades worth) I can tell you that Mr. Dion was utterly ineffective out here. Like it or not, economic and political power is increasing in the West and the Libs need to find a leader who can connect with the people of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and my province, British Columbia. If the party wants to wither and die off, it can keep marking time, clinging to the Atlantic and hoping to fend off the Tories in Ontario. There's not much future in that without making inroads in the West.
And, as far as I'm concerned, that my friend is that.

James Curran said...

Hilarious, no Liberal since Pearson has resonated in the west.

Ralph Goodale for leader!!!

Oh. He doesn't speak French? Oh. Well I'm sure someone in this Party can win seats in Alberta and Sask. I haven't met that person, but sounds like you might know somebody.

The Mound of Sound said...

Well James you seem intent to stew in your bitterness. All the best with that and I hope you work your way out of it quickly. I've spent four decades living with imperfections in the Liberal Party and have had my share of disappointments. Good luck.