Saturday, December 02, 2006

Stephane Dion wins Liberal leadership with prominent BC backing

Former environment minister Stephane Dion has triumphed in the fourth and final ballot of the Liberal leadership contest over MP Michael Ignatieff with 54.7% of the votes.

And Dion's win was dependent on support from some key BC Liberals formerly associated with the Paul Martin team that pushed Jean Chretien out of the Prime Minister's office in 2003.

Most prominent among them is Mark Marissen, who was Dion's National Campaign Director and an early backer of the candidate who was discounted by many and came in fourth place in the initial vote of Liberal members, behind Ignatieff, Rae and Gerard Kennedy.

Marissen deserves part of the credit for a winning strategy that included convincing Kennedy to do a deal with Dion where whoever fell behind would support the other candidate. Dion edged ahead of Kennedy on the first ballot and Kennedy dropped out in favour of Dion after the second vote.

Dion's win with 2,521 votes over Ignatieff's 2,084 was a convincing one that showed Liberals were ultimately unwilling to go to an outsider to leader their party, first dispatching former Ontario NDP premier Bob Rae, then saying no thanks to Ignatieff, the academic who had spent 30 years teaching in the U.S. and Britain.

Now Dion's challenge is to improve his fractured English and work quickly to unite the party in preparation for a possible spring election against the Stephen Harper Conservatives, who have dropped in popular support due to issues like Afghanistan, same-sex marriage, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and rejection of the Kyoto climate change agreement.


Anonymous said...

I was hoping for Bob Rae to win, but I'm not too upset about a Dion victory. I'm just wondering if the academic with the knapsack and the disheveled hair can lead the Liberals to victory in the next election.

His speech last night was very strong on the environment, which is a major point in his favour. I think with the Al Gore film making converts of us all with regard to global warming, the environment will probably be a paramount issue next time we go voting.

Also, Dion recognizes the importance of fighting poverty and dealing with the equality issue and the First Nations.

More power to him! I hope he can eject Stephen Harper on his conservative butt!

Anonymous said...

I understand the CBC shut him down to shift over to the Hockey Game. wonder what he was going to say. His speach last night wasn't finished either. But as you say the delegates didn't want Rae or Iggy. Should be intersting times ahead. First comment from the conservatives will be. Another guy from Quebec and a member of the old Liberal team. Oh well politics makes for strange bedfellows

Truman Green said...

I think it was CBC's Don Newman (or maybe Mansbridge) who remarked that Rae seemed to be in a complete daze as he left the convention--probably weirded out that fourth-place Dion could beat Ignatieff, but he couldn't. Which of course, would have been another delusion (besides the one he had that people appreciate an NDP turncoat). Rae would have have won in a toe to toe against Ignatieff, too. Probably any of the bottom four could have beaten Iggy, as it got clearer and clearer that the Libs didn't really want the New American Centurist any more than I did.

And good on the Liberals.

Now, hopefully, Dion will learn to become a bit more straightforward than he was when Newman asked him point blank if he and Kennedy had cooked up a deal. Unless, of course, they also had a deal not to tell.

Anonymous said...

Dion was a bad choice for the Liberals.
He served in the cabinets of both Paul Martin and Jean Chretien and the voters won't forget that, no matter how nice a guy he is.

The Liberals would have had better chances under either Michael Ignatieff, who appeals to Conservatives for his foreign policy, or Bob Rae, who may have stolen some votes from the moderate left.

My prediction. The Grits shall wander the desert for the foreseeable future - at least two more elections.

Now, the NDP needs to bolster its strength, or we're going to be stuck with two majority Conservative governments. And that's really scary!