Kennedy comments on supporting Dion

I ended up at the sparsely attended late night Kennedy hospitality event last and had a chance to meet him. This weekend Kennedy was the kingmaker as he backed Stephane Dion which essentially helped secure his victory for leadership.

Tasha asks Kennedy why he backed Dion and kind of gets an answer.

The compromise candidate

The Liberals have selected Stephane Dion as the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

The main thing that I noticed after his selection and the initial cheering, it seemed as though the energy of the room became flat. The mood seemed more of acceptance and acknowledgement rather than excitement.

A media friend remarked the same. It seemed like the mood of the convention became anti-climactic too soon.

Delegates here either hated the idea of a Rae-led Liberal Party or one led by Michael Ignatieff. Nobody hates Stephane Dion. He actually seems like a nice guy. However, as I said previously, he’s not the type of guy to lead his troops over the hill of the electoral battlefield.

The mood of delegates seems to be “Stephane Dion? Good enough.”

Conservatives are celebrating

Dion vs. Ignatieff on the final ballot. These are two candidates that we as Conservatives can run well against in the next election. Many thought that Rae was the preferred candidate but what I gather, Rae was the Conservative’s most feared candidate. It’s argued that it’s been long enough for Ontario to forget about Rae. Also, Rae would have polarized an electoral race left vs. right and right now, at least since the CPC is a minority government (elected with about 36% of the vote), the majority of the votes lie outside of the Conservative camp.

I’m certain that Ignatieff was Conservatives’ most preferred candidate to face as what makes Iggy controversial is indistinguishable from what makes Harper controversial to some Canadians (Afghanistan and anglospheric foreign policy). Ignatieff also suffers from foot-in-mouth disease and there are plenty of gaffes that he’s made in the past and will likely make in the future. Iggy is the most conservative candidate and you might as well vote for the conservative in power. Further, the Liberals have always played the anti-American card on the Conservatives. An Ignatieff victory would have nullified this old Liberal standby.

Out of the top four, Kennedy would have been the dream candidate due to his inexperience and alienation of Quebec (his lack of french and his “nation” position). Kennedy though was a bit of a long shot.

Out of the top eight candidates Volpe would have been our favourite candidate. It’s not even necessary to explain why.

Dion is the grassroots candidate that Liberal party members have promoted to tell the party’s old guard that they will not have another leader thrust upon them.

Dion’s schtick is the environment. This isn’t as big of an issue (yet) and it’s really the main thing that he ran on. Dionistas (or Dionkeys as their opponents here call them) are waving green Dion signs to contrast against the Liberal red. Green may as well be a safe apolitical colour that Dion could use. However, Dion’s record on the environment is mostly hot air. He banged that gavel at the UNFCCC to be sure, however, GHG emissions under the Liberal government rose over 25%. Further, conservatives won’t lose any of their base to Dion because of any claim of environmental credentials.

Dion also isn’t the type of leader that can charge a base of support and lead them into battle. Stephane Dion is a quiet intellectual who would seem to shy to be sucessful in rallying the troops and the swing voter.

The final ballot results are coming in. I’ll update in a bit.

Clarification

Looks like my original buzz on Bains was right. I just spoke to the man himself and he’s supporting Dion. I’m sitting here in the main hall waiting for delegates to vote on the final ballot. They almost ran out of time with too many people waiting to vote. They’ve extended the time by 10 minutes. That’s a good thing or else there would have been a riot.

Second ballot

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Ignatieff: 1481
Rae: 1132
Dion: 974
Kennedy: 884
Dryden: 219

Looks like this one’s between Dion and Rae.

It’s too bad that Dryden’s personality is so flat. He probably would have been a serious contender if he was able to emote. He’s giving his speech now.

Ignatieff is done is probably done. It’s unlikely that Kennedy’s people will overwhelmingly go Iggy.

UPDATE: Dryden has endorsed Rae. Dryden has advised his delegates to vote as they choose.

UPDATE: Who’s on the 3rd ballot? Will Kennedy drop off and be kingmaker?

Best.convention.swag.evar

Friday morning blogging the convention after a couple of great hospitality suites last night. Ignatieff had the big party at the Intercontinental, ironically where Ezra Levant had his Western Standard Party just two years ago at the CPC policy convention.

Activists at the Ignatieff hospitality suite were handing out buttons to delegates and they’re already a hit. I’ve heard that these edgy buttons even have asking prices.

I’ve collected them all!

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Quebec a nation?

So today, on an imminent challenge from the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservative government tabled a motion today that defined Quebec as a nation within Canada but one that would never been independent of it.

Predictably, western conservatives are upset with their adopted son who now governs from Ottawa. Predictably, Gilles Duceppe is upset with the rug that’s been pulled out from beneath his feet.

Stephen Harper has been playing with the notion of Quebec nation since at least the time that his caucus met at the Citadelle in Quebec City. Some say the Bloc forced federalists into this resolution, however there are political factors to consider as well.

First, this puts Harper’s preferred Liberal candidate Michael Ignatieff in a good position. Ignatieff will get some credit for being the Liberal leadership contender to “initiate” this latest round of discussing Quebec’s nation status.

This also bodes well for Stephane Dion who could split the delegates firmly into his camp if he chooses to continue to adamantly defend his position that Quebec is indeed not a nation (at least constitutionally), not within Canada, not independent. Ignatieff of course wanted to define Quebec as such in a constitutional sense. The Prime Minister (and the HoC’s) declaration of Quebec as a nation is merely a sociological distinction.

Has the Prime Minister, in essence, shifted the Liberal leadership race off the axis of Ignatieff-Rae to Ignatieff-Dion? And in doing so, has Harper forced the Liberals to pick his preferred candidate?

Does Harper’s play today also appeal to the true notion of asymmetrical federalism? Will we see a western nation, a northern nation?

Does this also play into a model of reform for the Senate of Canada, a model which would emphasize regional and cultural minorities (such as Quebec)? This track of reform has been discussed for over 100 years.

Constitutional measures are not supposed to be taken on a whim so does this fall into a pre-planned larger redefinition of the Canadian dominion? Then again, this doesn’t appear to be Ignatieff-envisioned constitutional measure, but merely a sociological distinction to recognize the Quebec people as a people.

The question remains… does this have constitutional repercussions for Canada, or is it a subtle position that means nothing of the sort but appeases the desire for some in Quebec to be recognized if only as a concept? If Harper were to form a majority government, his planned legacy may be to put Canada’s constitutional house in order. But, if this is merely a sociological distinction, is today’s news non-consequential to any type of reform?

This, of course, raises many questions for debate in the future. Many of which are unanswered at this early stage.

UPDATE: No news release yet from the Ignatieff camp on today’s news. Is he refining his position again?

UPDATE: After watching a few more press conferences, I’m starting to rethink Dion’s chances here. This will take a huge bite out of Dion if the Liberal caucus buys this nation business wholesale. One thing’s for sure, Dion is up tonight thinking about how next week can unfold. Will Dion fight the nation resolution or could he even drop out of the leadership race as early as tomorrow? How on Earth can he run to lead a party that will wholeheartedly support this motion?

UPDATE: Looks like everyone is treading lightly even Dion:

Harper’s proposal also won the approval of Stephane Dion, the lone Quebec contender who has fiercely criticized the Liberal approach on the issue. He said Harper’s motion is “very close” to a compromise he’s been floating among Liberal leadership candidates.

Dion said Harper’s recognition of Quebecers as a nation, is more in keeping with the sociological sense of the word, whereas the Liberal resolution is more ambiguous, suggesting Quebec is a “nation-state.”

Looks like Dion’s still going to fight on. He’ll certainly lose delegate support on this though. Warren Kinsella also looks at the man that now finds himself tied in a knot.