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Dion is your choice, too

In considering the convention that is a short two months away, I have realised the fundamental truth about who the Liberal party truly prefers for its leader.

Consider this:

In a two-way race between Michael Ignatieff and Stéphane Dion, Stéphane Dion would win, hands down.

In a two-way race between Bob Rae and Stéphane Dion, Stéphane Dion would win, hands down.

In a two-way race between Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, the party would risk becoming crippled by the polarisation between these two candidates.

The last ballot will be a two-way race. Please do your part at this weekend's delegate selection meetings to make sure that Stéphane Dion is one of the two.

There are only three serious contenders in this race: Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, and Stéphane Dion. Gerard Kennedy is a close fourth, but his weak French will doom him in a party whose tradition puts a francophone in this time around. His lack of a seat in the house would also risk making him a lame duck leader of the opposition. While I would also like to believe that Dryden's national name recognition could translate to a convention victory, organisation, not name recognition, has proven time and time again to be more important.

I won't go over all the reasons why Dion is the best candidate for the job. Paul Wells, the Montreal Gazette, Jason Cherniak, and a wide assortment of other bloggers have done this in depth. I have written about my opinions on the candidates and the leadership campaign several times, as well. In chronological order: April 7th, May 19th, June 11th, June 18th, June 28th, August 22nd, August 30th, September 11th, September 19th, and September 21st.

Contrary to the Conservative party's deliberate leak yesterday, they do not fear Michael Ignatieff. His supporters have fallen for this leak hook, line, and sinker, flaunting it as a reason why Ignatieff should win. The reality is that his inexperience at leading anything bigger than a university department, his ideas on war and torture, his desire to reopen the constitution, and his general ability to gaffe make him an easy target.

They would, it pains me to say, enjoy a fight with Bob Rae, though not as much as they think. Whatever he has learned over the last decade since losing his premiership in Ontario, that skeleton is still in his open closet. While his skills as a politician are strong, as evidenced by the fact that the three drop-outs in the race have all joined him (though their supporters have apparently mostly gone to Dion's campaign), and he has the backing of the formidable forces that are the Chrétien team, a federal election is not a leadership convention. Tory attack ads would not even need to be particularly creative to remind Ontarions of Rae's five-year term as Premier. His other major liability is, like Kennedy, that he is not yet in the Commons. As the leader of the Liberal party, this could prove to be very problematic. If the Liberals were in opposition to a majority government, Rae or Kennedy would have plenty of time to get themselves in the House and establish themselves as viable national leaders, but that's a scenario we neither have, nor particularly want.

It is Stéphane Dion they fear most of all. This is clear from their attempts to damage him by politicising the recent report on the environment file, and in their attempts to portray him as an also-ran who is behind Gerard Kennedy in yesterday's leak. Dion was only the environment minister for Paul Martin's short stint as a minority Prime Minister. Under Chrétien, he was the minister responsible for national unity, where he did an excellent job. Dion, who surgically picked apart the separatist arguments in Quebec with his open letters, would apply the same intellectual torture to tory policies while in opposition, and would bring the federalist vote back in line in Quebec, knocking the tories back out of that province and putting the Liberals back to the Speaker's right.

Posted at 10:58 on September 29, 2006

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