It's been pretty silent around here for over a day now...just taking a break in the aftermath of the election, resting my right mouse hand that almost put me on the blogging DL...:) On to weightier things...
What to make of all the leadership obsession? Mr. Harper certainly knows well that he can speak and legions of others will hup to. In the last few days before the election, he put his own leadership in issue by saying that the loser of the election, of the two major parties, would have to step down. Of course he was pointing at Mr. Dion. And for good measure, he gave another classless push during his "victory" speech the other night. Thanking Mr. Dion for his twelve years in public service. I'm surprised he didn't have a gold watch at the ready to be sent to Mr. Dion.
CTV and other pliant media have eaten it up willingly and unquestioningly. The only saving grace I can see in the midst of the frenzy is that Mr. Harper's leadership frailties, and yes there are many, have also come in for scrutiny. See Lawrence Martin today. Mr. Layton is also getting some attention for the campaign he ran (Caplan). The media at large, however, are principally focussed on Mr. Dion and have made it clear that they will do whatever they can to facilitate the PM's talking points. It makes for a great story and that's what Conservatives are egging them on to do, after all.
Potential aspirants for the Liberal leadership are publicly stating the proper things. Their backroom supporters are doing the work necessary, however, to make Mr. Dion's choices as limited as possible. The party president stated on national media last night something to the effect of Mr. Dion doing the right thing for the party. I don't believe in the current conversation that this can be interpreted as anything but another shove out the door. If it wasn't intended to be, it should have been phrased differently.
There's no support being expressed for Dion publicly. A lack of caucus support is cited, Dion has no political network, etc. All the negatives.
Mr. Dion however, handily won the French debate against Mr. Harper. He had Harper on the run after he announced his economic plan and Liberal numbers crept up to within a few points of the Conservatives. So tantalizingly close was that time period. Ontario numbers were shifting toward the Liberals albeit so briefly. Which tells me that Mr. Harper could have been beaten had a different campaign been run by the Liberals, and yes, under Mr. Dion. I advocated that ads be run of Mr. Dion, speaking directly to Canadians, as to why he wanted to be Prime Minister. That failing such an appeal, it was almost as if the Liberal party was buying into the "Not a Leader" bs that came from the depths of the Conservative slime machine. That step wasn't taken, except in Quebec, at the very end, and I'm not even sure if those ads ran on the networks. It's also noteworthy that Mr. Dion's numbers were much improved in Quebec over the course of the campaign. If he had time, it's possible those numbers would grow. Quebecers are sophisticated political consumers. They respond to issues presented to them and change their minds. This campaign is confirmation of that. Mr. Dion changed some minds in Quebec during this campaign. There's a long way to go, but the possibility is there.
If Mr. Dion hadn't launched the green shift, it's possible it would have been a different campaign too. The effects of that plan were, as well, vastly overstated by the Conservatives and they were able to win with the misinformation. We'll never know how it would have gone without that plan. We might well be looking at Prime Minister Dion right now. And of course, to run with this plan is his responsibility.
I maintain that Mr. Dion has tremendous strengths, intelligence, decency, vision. He's passionate about the country, he has vision. Stephen Harper has been petrified of him from the beginning. I believe that if he were given time, he could defeat Mr. Harper that next time. But I'm a person who doesn't mind a French accent. I believe that unfortunately, there are many Canadians who don't like it and put such small considerations first, attributing weakness and confusion to Mr. Dion as a result. I don't like what that says about my country, but I do believe it's there. I think we're kidding ourselves if we say it's not there.
Put all this into a mix of party members sensing their moment, a Conservative PM pushing him out the door and a willing media hanging on every word of this divisive man, it's such a poisonous atmosphere that it will be difficult to overcome.
Money is needed to put an effective party into operation and to fight the wealthy Conservatives. Without that, whoever the leader is stands to suffer the same fate as Mr. Dion in this election. No money equals no viable national organization. That needs to be a new, incessant priority for the Liberals.
Having said all of the above, a lot of negative, some positive, I will support whatever Mr. Dion decides to do. I would be happy to see him stay.