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What happens after Monday.

So we’ve received word through a Liberal Party news release that Stephane Dion is holding a press conference on Monday at 2 pm. In all likelihood, it means that Dion will announce his resignation and that a new leader will be picked in May, which was going to be the leadership review.

I’m going to pick up a bit from my one post where I speculated “what the Liberals should do if Dion leaves as leader”, and say if that is the scenario that plays out on Monday, whether Dion remains the interim leader or someone else is picked, we had better not see the Liberals fold like a cheap […]

My take on the Dion leadership question, and the LPC.

It’s been quite a reaction today amongst Liberal bloggers. Most of them are reacting in fury at Joe Volpe going on CTV – and of all places Mike Duffy’s show – and basically saying Dion should leave. I’ll say this for Joe Volpe – despite my distaste for him being as great as anyone else who has commented today, at least he had the gumption to come out and say what he felt publicly.

The backstabbing and murmurs from more “anonymous Liberals” about trying to get Dion to quit or to force him out is appalling and cowardly, and it has spurred quite a netroots reaction amongst Liberal rank and file members and Liberal bloggers coming out in support of Dion.  To be sure, there are Liberal bloggers wanting him to resign too, but so far those coming out in support of Dion has been bigger. (Steve has some of the list here at the bottom of his blogpost of those Liberal bloggers supporting Dion).

My particular opinion on this whole matter is this; I think Dion should be allowed to make his decision on his own terms either way.  Cut it out with the Mutiny on the Bounty crap. Part of the reason we’re in this position we are in is that certain members of the party refused to accept a grassroots/rank and file members decision on who the leader should be in December 2006, and Dion has been dealing with a divided caucus and less then loyal foot soldiers who were former supporters of his rivals. It has made the LPC look bad in the past 2 years in the public’s eyes, and all of this “anonymous Liberals want to force Dion out” crap merely reinforces it (remember the 1960’s – 1980’s Progressive Conservative party?).

The other thing is stop blaming Dion and the Green Shift as the only reasons for the election defeat. He does have to bear and shoulder some responsibility for this, as do his staff and his strategists, but he’s not the full reason. You can read a couple of very excellent pieces by Robert Silver here and here to get my particular opinion on things, as he says it more eloquently then I what I feel are the cause of the problems as well as the solutions:

Entering into another costly, divisive leadership campaign is the absolute last thing the Liberal Party needs or can afford right now. Moreover, it will help ensure that the party’s needed reforms and renewal do not happen. The Liberal Party is caught in a vicious cycle: we do a terrible job engaging our members and reaching out to new members; this lack of engagement ensures that we cannot raise significant money under the current fundraising rules; this lack of funds makes it impossible for us to build a modern political machine that allows us to be competitive across this country and to effectively communicate our message to Canadians; which makes it even more difficult to reach out to existing and new members and voters. And on it goes.

And at his blog entry:

Just as GM now deserves what is happening to it because it refused to evolve and innovate, the Liberal Party of Canada deserves what is happening to it unless it realizes its real problems go way deeper than a face on a poster.

I will add this part. There is no magic elixir out there in the form of another leader that is going to magically make everyone want to vote Liberal again. We have organizational and messaging problems, and the party needs to still be reformed organizationally and with more emphasis on the grassroots and ENGAGING the grassroots and trying to get them involved.

For example, here’s a novel idea; instead of throwing those 1000$ a plate dinner fund raisers all the time that only the elites can afford to go to, how about a whole bunch of 10$ to 20$ BBQ’s that normal regular LPC members can, you know, actually afford? The Victory Fund is fine, but lots of people hate getting bugged in email and with phone calls. Throw those BBQ’s with high profile people, and get your funds that way. Furthermore, hold them not just in ridings we are strong in, but hold them in ridings where we want to win them back, or where we’ve traditionally have had no presence but want to build up the local riding infrastructure. We invited Howard Dean to the LPC Convention (in 2006), but we’ve done NOTHING to come anywhere close to implementing a “50 state strategy” – or trying to compete and win in every strategy. We need a 10 province strategy, or 308 ridings strategy implemented. Barack Obama embraced Deans efforts, and look what he’s doing competing in Republican states that haven’t gone Democratic in years. We need the same effort and plan up here. We’ve had a lot of lip service about that, but little as been done.

I’ll say again; we’re papering over the structural and organizational faults (such as lack again of fund raising within our own party) by thinking a new leader – even one with “star” potential – will come along and make all those problems go away, It is short-sighted and will get us no closer to getting re-elected to government.

In conclusion, I support Dion in whatever decision he makes. (Quite honestly, I don’t know why he’d WANT to remain leader with this bunch that has been throwing knives at his back). The Liberal Party backroom honchos are fooling themselves however, in thinking that all will be well again if Dion quits or is forced out. They have to engage the grassroots of the party and involve them more. However, the grassroots/netroots of the LPC need to let the head honchos/back room boys know that we’re not going to put up with this stagnation of reform.

UPDATE: For an excellent glossary of what an “anonymous Liberal” is, go check out CalgaryGrit’s definitions.

Ever read something where you think to yourself, “well said”?

I have two instances of that today for me. First, the much discussed speech of Stephane Dion’s at the Empire Club in Toronto yesterday which left many observers impressed. Best line of that speech, other then the “why I entered politics” part which caught a lot of people’s attention, is this one:

“History shows us that in tough economic times, it is progressive governments that put economies back on track. Clinton after Reagan and Bush. Blair after Thatcher and Major. Chretien and Martin after Mulroney. And, of course, McGuinty after Harris.”

The runner-up to that today is a conversation I actually caught at Facebook from bloggers Devin Johnston and Kelly John Rose:

Devin: Who benefits most from the Conservatives falling in the polls? The Liberals, NDP, or Bloc?

Kelly: Canadians.

Devin: Good Call.

I’ll add to that and repeat: Well said.

Liberal Ad #2 Released today – Liberal Leadership

Well, straight on the heels of the prior post talking about the newest Liberal ad, I noticed the Liberals had released a 2nd ad today and so here it is:

You might remember this ad from somewhere else. This was released a couple of years ago after the initial Conservative attack ads on Dion after he won the leadership. The Liberals have decided to re-release this to emphasize what they feel is “real leadership” – which in this case is real results on the world stage to do with the environment. It’s not a bad idea to remind people of this either.

[…]

Liberals promise to ban military assault weapons if elected.

I haven’t seen this yet in the media in my quick scan of headlines (though I expect it will be soon) but I saw this press release from the Liberals that should resonate in many urban centres across Canada. The Liberals will ban military assault weapons and add them to the prohibited weapons list if elected, which was very appropriately announced by Dion at Dawson College, the scene of a tragic shooting of a young girl in 2006:

Mr. Dion at an event at Dawson College (said) “Military assault weapons have no connection to hunting or sport shooting, and serve absolutely no purpose in our society. No one outside of the military needs these weapons and we would all be safer without them in Canada.” A Liberal government would ensure that the list of prohibited weapons is updated to include all military assault weapons. This approach was supported last Thursday by Coroner Jacques Ramsay in his report into the tragic shootings at Dawson College in 2006.

So, Dion is endorsing the official coroner’s report on this by promising to implement it as a policy. I’ll be very interested to see if Harper and his Public Safety Minister Stockwell Days does as well.

In addition, Dion promised that the government’s firearms advisory committee would be made to reflect broader opinions across Canada then it currently is now:

Under the Conservatives the committee had been quietly stacked with firearms enthusiasts, providing little in the way of unbiased advice. “While the voices of legitimate gun owners deserve to be heard on the committee, we will ensure that there are representatives of major police associations – like the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the Canadian Police Association, health and safety experts and true advocates of gun control on the committee.

I also like Dion saying that “Stephen Harper cannot be tough on crime when he is soft on guns”. I think that is a prefect way to show Harper and the Conservatives have a double standard on this “tough on crime” spiel that this right-wing bunch tend to use to try to portray everyone else as soft. Reminding voters that Harper and the Conservatives are ideologues comparable to the National Rifle Association and their Republican allies is a good line of attack. Gun control and their visceral opposition to it is a soft spot in the Conservative armour – at least in urban Canada.

Monday morning political bits ‘n bytes

– I like the new Liberal ad talking about the Green Shift. It explains the policy very well, but I like it more so because Harper was sniffing at his press conference yesterday morning while announcing the election the Liberals were going to probably attack him and “go negative” to avoid talking about the Green Shift because the Liberals were too scared to talk about it. Bingo! First election ad out talks about the Green Shift (which Dion has been talking about all summer long, but Harper already knew that. He was just being his usual disingenuous self).

– Speaking of being scared, for someone who is bragging about showing […]

The Survivor.

Great speech by Dion to start off the election campaign:

As Dion says, he relishes being the underdog and underestimated, and I agree that in Dion’s case, that’s a good position to be in.  He has prevailed against the Quebec separatists that way, as well as in winning the Liberal leadership, when he was discounted and ignored, until it was too late. In the Conservatives case, you also see spades of  arrogance and overconfidence in them and their online supporters.

Let them keep that up. As the old saying goes, pride always goeth before a fall.

Update @ 6:02 pm: Part 2 of the Press Conference below:

Pointing out Conservative failures in Liberal speeches and ads is not going “negative”

I know there’s been some debate going on as to whether the Liberals should be going negative and if so, what type of “negative” we should be doing. I for one, think that the Liberals are doing the right campaign tactics when they are very tough on the Conservatives on such issues as the listeriosis outbreak:

The Liberals launched their first attack of the onrushing election campaign by accusing the Harper government of undermining food safety in the same way the Mike Harris Tories weakened water safety in Walkerton, Ont., a decade ago…Those of us from Ontario – and those across the country – remember Walkerton,” said Toronto MP Carolyn Bennett, who accompanied Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion at a news conference wrapping up a party caucus meeting here…”We remember when there was an active decision to reduce inspections and what happened to the health of those people in Walkerton,” said Bennett, MP for the riding of St. Paul’s, and the Liberal health critic. Cuts in regulatory spending by the Harris government in the mid-1990s contributed to the E. coli water tragedy that cost seven lives in Walkerton in 2000, according to the report of a public inquiry.

Liberal leader Stephane Dion on the same issue at the same press conference, calling for Agriculture Minister Ritz’s firing:

“Starting March 1, a change has been made that put our inspection situation where inspectors are more inspecting paper than meat,” Dion said. “And under the circumstances, because this change has been covered up, the minister cannot stay the minister.” Dion said that, like the Harris Tories, the Harper Conservatives “don’t believe in the role of the government” in regulating business. Dion noted that three key members of the Harper government – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Environment Minister John Baird and Health Minister Tony Clement – were in Harris’s cabinet

There is nothing “negative” about pointing out how the Conservatives ideology and averseness to government regulation may have contributed to this health crisis, as the provincial Conservatives in Ontario under Mike Harris did in connection to Walkerton. That goes for going at them over such things as their own refusal to publish details about their own environmental plan to combat Greenhouse gases. Pointing out that this isn’t showing “strong leadership”, but hiding facts from the Canadian public again is not negative, but fair ball.

Personally, not only do I want to see more press conferences or campaign rallies doing similar themes to what Bennett and Dion did, but I want to see the same thing running in the Liberals campaign advertisement ads on radio and tv when the election campaign officially get started, (presuming Michaelle Jean doesn’t throw a curveball at Harper when he visits her).

UPDATE: Want to counter those pre-election election ads on Harper’s “strong leadership”? Liberal strategists and our party would be well advised to use some of the points that Carol Goar makes to shred that claim to pieces, and all done with facts, not personal attacks. Put those facts in the LPC ads, and have Dion and other Liberals pepper your speeches with these facts.

UPDATE 2 @ 2:14pm: I agree with Jennifer Smith’s approach, which I believe is the same thing that I’m advocating.

Dion listened to farmers concerns about Green Shift; snags big endorsement/candidate as a result.

I’ve been seeing where some of the Conservatives and others have been attacking Dion for – get this – actually listening to some of the concerns being listed to him by certain economic sectors (farmers, fishermen, the trucking and forestry industry) and announcing a modification to The Green Shift plan to help alleviate those concerns that their industries would suffer as a result.

That ability to listen and to be flexible to those concerns has yielded positive results today in Winnipeg where the Liberal caucus has gathered. Bob Friesen, who is the President of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture -apparently likes the new plans to help the farming sector out enough that he has decided he will be running as a candidate for the Liberal Party in this election as a result.

This is big news and a coup for Dion and the Liberals. As Kady says at Macleans:

I have to think that convincing the up-until-yesterday president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture – who was publicly critical of the Green Shift just a few days ago – to run for the Liberals is going to make it a teensy bit trickier for Jason Kenney – who will apparently be acting as the human incarnation of Oily the Splot during the upcoming campaign – to stick to his original script, at least as far as Stephane Dion’s sinister anti-farmer agenda.

Guess who Friesen is running against? Stephen Fletcher in one of the Winnipeg ridings. That should be an interesting match up. The bottom line is that unlike Harper, who believes it’s his way or the highway, and that any idea other then his own isn’t worthy, Dion listened to farmers concerns and others and took their concerns into account. He also did this without adding any extra costs to the plan as the extra money was already provided for in the Green Shift, as Danielle pointed out this morning).

UPDATE @ 5:31 pm: The Liberals officially announce the candidacy of Mr. Friesen, which includes this statement from Bob:

“Like many people in Canada’s farming community, I’ve been very disappointed by the Conservative government’s agricultural policies,” said Mr. Friesen. “I’m convinced that the Liberal Party is the best choice for farmers and that is why I am proud to carry the Liberal banner in Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia in the next election.”

Canadian political thoughts.

Jeff caught this point made by Stephane Dion yesterday at his after-meeting press conference describing his meeting with Harper. It was a very good point he raised; one that our media friends haven’t asked one of Harper’s spokespersons yet – at least not that I’ve seen: What exactly precipitated the rush to an election in one night?

Sunday he called a fourth (by-election) in Don Valley West, and then on Monday he started talking about a general election. I asked him what happened during that night to ask supporters to work a whole summer, to use the taxpayers’ money, for nothing. But I didn’t get an answer.

Jeff speculates it […]

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