Sunday, December 3, 2006

It's Stéphane Dion

So it's Stéphane Dion, who won it on the fourth ballot. He pulled ahead of Iggy on the third, leaping from third place; but the momentum was unstoppable at that point. What may have done it is his emphasis on two issues that are definitely going to be at or near the top of the agenda come the next election: The environment, and child care. The Liberals have taken quite the risk in picking him, hoping he can pick up momentum in Québec and in Western Canada. The pundits think he can't but maybe the delegates know something the MSM doesn't.

Not that Ignatieff had bad ideas on the "big"issues and other policy points. His were, in my opinion, probably better overall. But Dion has actually worked in the trenches for quite some time now, whereas his main opponent has been in the world of higher education and the talk show circuit. Not necessarily bad to do so but Ottawa can be a very nasty place and Ignatieff probably didn't connect as well as Trudeau did 38 years ago. His strong showing overall, however, and his promise to run in the next election puts him in line for a very powerful post in Cabinet -- perhaps Finance or Foreign Affairs. Unlike the Chrétien and Martin show, however, I think there won't be an underground battle to unseat the leader just days after the last campaign ended.

As for my first choice of Gerard Kennedy -- he did the right thing by pulling out relatively early. There would not have been much point dragging things ou for so long. I just wonder what role Dion has for him in mind, though; if it turns out to be something token it won't exactly be gratitude.

As for all the other candidates, I hope they run in the next election. Including Martha Hall Findlay -- who I think may be the party's future.

The focus now is Stephen Harper. There is no question he has to be defeated before the real damage is done to Canada. His announcement that 12 of the 16 Status of Women offices closing just a couple of days before the anniversary of the Montréal Massacre is not a coincidence; as some (though not all) of his hardest core supporters support violence against women. It's my hope in the coming days -- perhaps even today -- Dion puts together a Shadow Cabinet that turns on the screws and lets the dogs out from Day One. Harper may say publicly he can knock down Dion like a steamroller, but I honestly don't think he saw this one coming. He wanted Ignatieff.

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