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Saturday, December 02, 2006

He's Everybody's Second Choice 

This is mostly an apolitical weblog, but since I was looking for some early juice on the new leader of the Liberals and found nothing, I thought I'd write it myself.

Though some had already written this surprise scenario (candidate in fourth place in delegates going into the campaign wins), it was only written as a surprise.

So who is Stéphane Dion?

In a field which pitted the Harvard Guy against the NDP Guy against the Western Guy (the Female Guy was knocked off the ballot after the first round, the Gay Guy threw in with the NDP Guy at the same time, the Hockey Guy got eliminated in the second round, and the Really Sleazy Guy gave up even before the first ballot...ah heck, just read the Wikipedia entries), Stéphane was the Quebec Guy.

He was also the Establishment Guy, inasmuch as he was a cabinet minister under PM Chrétien, and (surprisingly) also under PM Martin. If this was to be the convention where the Liberals took their chance to make a break with the recent, fairly scandalous past by electing someone who wasn't in government under Chrétien, (best represented by Ignatieff or Bob Rae) the Liberals decided they didn't need to do that. But! He did have the good grace to be shocked (and according to Colby Cosh, not shocked, shocked!) at Sponsorship et al.

For my part, I'll make a snap judgement that any candidate who received the endorsement of Ms. Burning Crosses at any time is automatically minus one point. Balancing that is that Mr. Dion is not Bob Rae.

The Liberal party doesn't need or want, and probably shouldn't heed my opinions. And in my experience, the broad spectrum of punditry is likely to overstate Dion's weaknessess and strengths. My gut feeling (let me reiterate: largely worthless) is that things like character and network affiliation matter much less than coherent, well-defended policies.

To that end, the biggest problem the Liberals face in the near term is that they already had their dozen years, and while they did some things well (it hurts me to admit it every time, but they did a competent, if not optimal job of fiscal management) while sleazing up government pretty remarkably. Meanwhile, Stephen Harper is so far doing a boringly competent job (my favourite kind!) and history says that as long as he continues that path, Canadians will give a sitting PM the benefit of the doubt.

My sure-fire prediction, though, is that after the next election, the PM of Canada will be Steve something. Take that to the bank.

Meanwhile, Stephen Harper is so far doing a boringly competent job

*laugh*... oh wait, you were serious. Well, you're probably right that the Liberal party shouldn't heed your opinions, then.
Assuming Dion is content to bash the Conservative "neocon" ideology instead of actually criticizing Conservative policies, Harper should have a relatively pain-free ride. Canadians respect leaders, not labelers.
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