Monday, December 04, 2006

The Dion Love-In Begins

The fact that Stephane Dion is now leader of the Liberal Party is reason enough not to underestimate the man's political skills; clearly, he is no longer just another colourless policy wonk plucked from academic obscurity.

But that doesn't justify the tongue bath that Jeffrey Simpson and the rest of the Globe and Mail are giving him today:

St├ęphane is one tough cookie behind those geeky glasses, awkward body language and shy, sly grin. He knows who he is, what he believes in, where he wants to go. And he knows how to get there. He is focused and confident, perhaps to a fault. No one outside Quebec knows how tough he has had to be in that province, where he has been mocked, belittled, satirized, pilloried, scorned. His face has been on every secessionist's dartboard.


What critics missed then, and now, is his fierce determination to improve and succeed. Knock him down. Beat him up. Mr. Dion just keeps going forward, sometimes oblivious to the feelings of others, inadvertently rude, annoyingly convinced of the absolute correctness of his analysis. He's a Presbyterian, politically speaking — unadorned, slightly severe, utterly determined, without pretence, searching for self-improvement, anchored in his convictions.

Almost every former ministerial colleague can recount tales of Mr. Dion's righteous rectitude around the cabinet table. He didn't schmooze, make friends or build alliances. He just mastered his briefs, plowed forward and jack-hammered his arguments against any opposition. Not surprisingly, therefore, very few senior members of those cabinets supported him. His intellect, they respected; his political judgment and personal skills they did not.

The reader can draw the appropriate conclusion: Stephane Dion is the Liberal Party's answer to Stephen Harper, except presumably with a social conscience.

The media hopes that Dion will fit the Harper mould--austere academic written off for dead, only to triumph through perseverance--because having backed the front-runners and lost, he's all they've got left to recoup their credibility.

But you never step into the same election twice. Dion, unlike Harper, has a previous government's record to defend. Also unlike Harper, he has made real enemies in his home province.

And perhaps worst of all, he has to contend with the perception that after for 40 years of practically unbroken governance by prime ministers of Quebec, the country doesn't need another one just now. For all the Central Canadian elites' disdain towards Alberta, the electorate doesn't feel the same way about an Albertan.

Nonetheless, Dion will have an extended honeymoon in the media and elite circles. Even if he wasn't their first choice, he is still one of them, and all will be forgiven because of that.


Alberta Girl said...

Hmmm- look back a few years - that description sounds vaguely familiar - like another man that won a leadership contest - but was the description the same????

The bias is becoming more blatant.

Ontario Lad said...

As long as Liberals like to play with polls, take a look at those numbers in Quebec and The West; totally flatlined, no change whatsoever. Quebec knows who Dion is and it is not for nothing that they have depicted him as a rat in caricature. And once his honeymoon in Ontario is over, those numbers will go down.

The Liberals can keep saying that the Tories fear Dion if that is what gets them by, but I know better. Sure he should not be underestimated (as with anyone) but fear? Please.

Dion will not win it for them. He is will caretake the Liberals until someone better comes along.

KristinB said...

I hope all of you will stop analyzing and doing the Liberal's homework for them...and start working more for Mr. Harper and the conservatives to forge their way ahead and complete more of the dream.
I certainly hope soon I will see more support for the PM within these conservative blogs. Stand Tall !

wilson61 said...

MSM will have their work cut out 'translating' everything Dion says.
His English is pathetic!!
In Question period, he will have to have a full time English translater, or English Canada will be saying a collective 'huh?'