Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Keith Boag - Dion is Toast

The CBC's Keith Boag figures that, while Stephane Dion may want to whistle past the graveyard claiming Canadians have asked him to serve as leader of the Official Opposition, Dion's days are numbered and that number isn't very high either.

I agree with Boag. Stephane is a spent force who has essentially run the party into the ground. This isn't the NDP, it's the Liberal Party of Canada. You don't put up such a miserable showing and expect to hang around to heap more of the same on the party faithful.

Boag mentioned something else I also firmly believe. The Liberal Party of Canada can only suffer if it rushes into securing a replacement too quickly as, I suspect, both the Rae and Igantieff camps would prefer.

There may be no ideal candidate to lead the party within the existing front ranks. All have shortcomings and none has demonstrated the ability to capture the imagination and support of the Canadian electorate.

I already know who I want to lead the Liberal Party. I've been open about that for many months. I want a woman to run our party, I want a woman to lead this country. I want her not because she's a woman but regardless of her gender. I want Louise Arbour. I want Louise Arbour as Canada's next prime minister.

She's brilliant. She's accomplished. She's utterly fearless. Louise Arbour or someone of her stature is exactly the sort of person we need, Canada needs, to put our country back on an even keel. Supreme Court of Canada justice, war crimes prosecutor, UN human rights commissioner, Ms. Arbour stands so tall above the rest that she makes them dim in their mediocrity.

As I've written so often, we're coming out of an era of notional wealth and indulgence into an era when the old tricks no longer work. We need someone of exemplary intellect and forceful character who can use her talents to make us accepting, even wanting for what's only right and essential.

Living her detached from mainland Canada I accept the limitations that come from being removed and somewhat sheltered. Yet, if any of you can come up with someone better, please come up with names and explain why they should lead the Liberal Party out of the desert.

In earlier, less pressing times, I might even consider the idea of allowing Stephane Dion to have another go. These, however, are not less pressing times and we've gone about as far down this road as we can afford to travel.

I want Arbour. Who do you want? Come up with some names and explain why.


Anonymous said...

I like Louise, but I do believe she is french isnt she? Its time to alternate, its time for an english leader, otherwise we could be in opposition for a long time, I am french, quebecois, but enough of the french leaders for a while, Ignatief has support in the west, he is from ontario, and can make gains in quebec...Rae is not likes in the west, kenedy is not articulate enough....yes it is time for a woman, but we canot affort to experiment......we live in dangerous economic times....

The Mound of Sound said...

Well, being "French" Canadian didn't prevent her from serving as an excellent justice of the Supreme Court of Canada or as a war crimes prosecutor at the Hague or as the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, did it?
Have you listened to any of her interviews? She really transcends English/French divides.
I don't share your conceern that opting for Louise Arbour is some sort of risky experiment in dangerous times. I think she's exactly the type we need in the absolutely most challenging times. Do you think we'd do better with someone of lesser intellect or courage? I'm old enough to know better than that.

Anonymous said...

You may not want a quick replacement but one is inevitable.

Canada can't afford to let PMSH rule as though he has a majority (Which he can so long as the Liberals are leaderless) and the Liberals can't afford to have a protracted leadership campaign that drains excessive resources away from the party and into the leadership camps.

It'll be Rae or Ignatieff by May. I'd bet on it.

The Mound of Sound said...

I really can't agree. I think that one of the reasons the Harpies went up and the Libs went down is because of apathy. There are many things the Liberals can't afford - time isn't one of them.
The last thing the Canadian voters would tolerate any time soon is another "political leverage" election. If we try that stunt we'll pay dearly for it.

Take advantage of the breathing space, find the very best leader (something that neither the Tories nor the NDP have achieved) and then prepare ourselves well in advance so that we, not the government, gets to decide when to pull the pin next time.

If we ignore that and jump the gun it will cost the LPC at a time when it can't afford too many more body blows.

M@ said...

I had not considered Louise Arbour, but I agree -- she would be an impressive Liberal leader or prime minister. She is a great person and someone I could respect and support. I wish you were right.

My choice for PM -- after Dion, who I like beyond all reason as a person and as a politician -- is Ken Dryden. Why? Because he distills, in every speech and every address he gives, the essence of a proud, strong, compassionate Canadian. That's all I want -- strength where it's warranted, compassion where it's needed. (Harper has neither, Dion is at best running at 75%.)

But if Arbour runs, I'll register with the party just to vote for her. No question there.

Anonymous said...

You must have been a Dion supporter during the last leadership. Arbour is exactly the same kind of strident far-left francophone that Dion is, and we saw how well that weird science experiment turned out.

Time for an anglo leader, someone younger, someone less of an egghead, someone more in touch with the average person. Someone like Kennedy, who just toppled Peggy Nash and has all the right stuff to make a run for the leadership.

burlivespipe said...

So what is the scenario for a quick leadership transition? Does Dion, after conversing with his caucus, step down in January/February, kicking of a 3- or 4-month leadership campaign? What of the policy convention, which is to occur this spring? What of the need to have a one-member, one-vote system, or at least to engage a debate on that? Or do we let the hierachy set the process, maybe even select the leader, because the #s who can spend $2000 on attending a convention are dwindling, let me tell you.
And why Arbour? She has no parliamentary experience, so wouldn't that be essentially like conceding the first election while she learns the ropes against (most likely) a vicious rival -- no doubt they've got attack ads aimed at all the potential heavyweights in the hopper.
There are many questions to be asked. I think the most critical part is that we take some time, catch our breathe and let the dust settle. Let's see how Dion performs when he acts like the leader of the opposition, making Harper sweat a little. Will he demand an election over the 14-year-olds in prison promise? Because we know that won't get past the NdP or Bloc, and certainly isn't worth supporting.

Anonymous said...

Kennedy won't run for the next Leadership. The Liberal Party will fall apart if Iggy or Rae try to become Leader. The next Leader will come from the "outside".

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can blame an election loss on "apathy" if voters are apathetic it's because politicians aren't giving them enough to be excited about.

I really have to lay the blame on communications this time (For the loss of seats/votes, the failure in forming government has too many reasons to get into here). The Liberals pretty much let the Conservatives define everything, they didn't respond forcefully enough, they didn't set the agenda. As good a man as Dion is, as great a statesman as he would have been... he's (and whomever he had crafting the campaign message)is just not an effective communicator.

Had the conservatives won a majority I'd agree that time would be something of a luxery but they didn't. I have no interest in spending years watching the Liberal Party either prop up the Tories or defacto surrender the role of opposition leader (which ultimately leads to the status of government in waiting)to Jack Layton. Which is something that ultimately has to be done or you risk going into a campaign leaderless... that would be political suicide.

With regards to the post above, as much as I like him I don't think Kennedy is ready yet. He has no support in Quebec and I think he'd be a drag on on the ballot over there. We'll have to see who steps up and what they say but at least initially I think Rae looks like the most likely successor. Assuming of course that Mr. Dion doesn't end up staying (but I think we can all agree that him staying is pretty unlikely).

Ashley_Wilkes-Booth said...

I like the idea, and always have; here's my 2 cents.

Anonymous said...

One comment I heard while listening to the "experts" on CBC Radio speculating on Dion's future was that Dion would not consider stepping down as leader as long as his personal election debt is so high. They believed his only chance of raising enough funds to cover his expenses would be as leader and therefore he would have to be bought out for him to consider stepping down. Any thoughts on this??

Fish said...

I still say we should stick with Dion. As Anonymous 10:12 said, another leadership change would drain too many ressources and of course there is always the possibility that Rae could win, and then we will really know what it means to be driven into the ground!

Having said that, I like the idea of Louise Arbour, but it brings the judiciary just that much closer to political branch of our government. I realize it wasn't exactly all that far to start with, but it is still moving in the wrong direction.

The Mound of Sound said...

No matter what any of us may think of Mr. Dion as a leader, the Canadian people have decided the point conclusively. The party was hammered from the left and the right. Mr. Dion failed to hold the centre. I know Mr. Dion is no Stockwell Day but their post-election positions have a real similarity. I don't believe Mr. Dion has a viable future as leader of the LPC and I don't think the LPC can afford to languish under another term of his leadership.

I too believe the party has a great deal to gain by trying to bring in fresh, talented blood from outside. Bring two or three (if we can find them) in, give them critic portfolios and get them trained as quickly as possible to lead.

We have to free ourselves from the last leadership contest. That only leaves us with "default options." Sadly, I don't see anyone particularly dynamic in those ranks.

Stephen Harper didn't win a victory last night, we handed it to him. Even then the Canadian people were still not willing to trust him with a majority. That speaks volumes and we need to understand what that means.

Harper manipulated this election through and through. The timing was perfect and enabled him to run a campaign on no particular issue. Mr. Dion was completely outfoxed, he was had, and was never able to "frame" the election. Instead he ran on a controversial platform he'd never managed to sell to the voting public. You can't screw up that miserably and expect to stay on. You just can't.

Implicit in seeking and accepting the leadership is the obligation to get out of the way if you prove not up to it. Dion has certainly proved that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, of course, an anti-Semite like Arbour would be the PERFECT choice..... not.

The Mound of Sound said...

Anon, just because she made entirely legitimate criticisms of Israel, that doesn't make her anti-Semitic. Your comment, however, does make you scurrilous.

The Mound of Sound said...

Oh, and Burl. Don't be too apprehensive about an outsider taking over. Arbour, in particular, has shown herself extremely adept at mastering new offices - from Supreme Court justice to World Court prosecutor to UN Human Rights commissioner.
She certainly has a vastly better understanding of the fundamentals of Canadian democracy than several who've been in that office for some time. If you can handle Slobodan Milosevic you can handle Steve Harper. If you can stand up to the most powerful nations on earth, you can control and lead a caucus.

Ashley_Wilkes-Booth said...

I've never heard of Louise Arbour saying anything anti-Semitic... any link or etc to back that up? (Criticism of Israel is not the same thing, though)

The Mound of Sound said...

Ashley, I believe the smear is in reference to Arbour's entirely justifiable criticisms of Israeli treatment of Palestinians and its use of cluster bombs against Lebanese civilians in its failed war on Hezbollah. Speaking truth to power can, in some circles, be castigated as anti-Semitic.