Much is being written and said about former Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes and her bizarre conspiracy theories that are more appropriately scrawled on the front of newspaper boxes rather than enunciated by a mainstream contender for Parliament.
As the story progressed from the unearthing of Hughes’ quote, to the firestorm that erupted, all the way to Dion’s delayed disposal of Hughes’ from the Liberal Party, the easy conclusion is that Hughes’ views are not only divergent but dumb but the looming question that we should ask is what does this say about Mr. Dion’s leadership?
Former Liberal candidate Lesley Hughes in her own words,
“German Intelligence (BND) claims to have warned the U.S. last June, the Israeli Mossad and Russian Intelligence in August. Israeli businesses, which had offices in the Towers, vacated the premises a week before the attacks, breaking their lease to do it. About 3000 Americans working there were not so lucky.”
And then this release from the Liberal war-room while Hughes is under fire from Conservatives for her anti-semitic remarks (h/t Janke):
Sent: Sep 25, 2008 6:51 PM
Subject: STATEMENT – DÉCLARATION [LE FRANÇAIS SUIT L’ANGLAIS]
For Immediate Release
September 25, 2008
Statement from Lesley Hughes, the Liberal candidate for Kildonan-St. Paul
As a journalist I have spoken and written passionately about the Holocaust. I am a lifelong friend and supporter of the Jewish community in Winnipeg and I am deeply distressed by any suggestion to the contrary. I find any interpretation of my journalism as anti-Semitic personally offensive and I heartily apologize for that perception.
Liberal Party of Canada Press Office
Note that this release comes from the Liberal Press Office, not directly from Ms. Hughes herself. The Liberal Party would like you to know that Ms. Hughes is “offended” by her critics. This sort of apology is good enough for Stephane Dion.
Then when this non-apology is worked over by reporters, Liberal supporters start yelling at them. Look at the leadership Stephane Dion shows when faced by further questions by reporters on an issue un-resolved. Remember, Hughes said that “Israelis” had advance knowledge of 9/11. What would you do if you were the leader of a political party?
A Liberal supporter takes over the press conference and pushes back on journalists for the Liberal leader. CTV quoted Liberal supporters as saying that questions were “trivial and irrelevant”.
When it became clear for Dion that Ms. Hughes was turning into a political liability, Dion still wouldn’t dump Hughes from the campaign. Instead, he sought the advice of the Canadian Jewish Congress as to what is right or wrong. Of course, like anyone with any sense the CJC said the comments were wrong. Mr. Dion didn’t need to outsource his decision making here. What to do about a nutty conspiracy theorist that suggests the Americans and Israelis orchestrated their own mass-murder in order to build a case for war is about the easiest test of leadership there is; it’s Leadership 101, this person has no place in any serious political party.
Mr. Dion did the right thing in the end, but only after facing embarrassing questions and only after delegating his judgment to an outside group. This incident speaks to the disturbing presumed acceptance of these views in some of the parties on the left but more importantly, it show that when faced with perhaps the easiest test of leadership, Mr. Dion failed.