Stephane DionSave this online in Del.icio.us. [?] Vote For this Post
(Cross-posted at Clear Grit)
It is obviously impossible for me to claim that I am unbiased in writing about any candidate, but this is especially true for what I write about Stephane Dion. Obviously, he is the candidate who I believe should lead the party into the next election. I believe he would be Stephen Harper's most formidable foe, in both official languages. Therefore, since this is basically going to be an exalting of Dion's better qualities, I will spare you from long-windedness.
Dion was not one of the candidates who could count on front-runner status. Unlike the other top-tier candidates, Dion had to work hard to get where he is today. Fourth place - a strong fourth - is impressive given that when he began his bid for leadership he wasn't given much of a chance by most observers.
The reason that Dion has experienced this momentum is because people realize that he is the true intellectual voice of liberalism in Canada, not Michael Ignatieff. People realize that Stephane Dion is the only candidate among the front-runners who has served in a federal cabinet, and who has paid his dues to the party.
Dion is the candidate most likely to win Quebec for the Liberals. The Liberal party can't win the next election without a strong come-back in Quebec, and Stephane Dion, I feel, is the only candidate well-positioned to defeat Stephen Harper in Quebec. The only other candidate who I feel could compete in Quebec is Michael Ignatieff, but I fear he is too gaffe-prone to win a general election.
That being said, what sort of chance does he have?
Well, history is certainly on Dion's side. Every single Liberal prime minister save for Alexander Mackenzie (the first one) has served in the cabinet of a previous Liberal prime minister. Kennedy is the only other front-runner who can claim experience in a Liberal cabinet, though provincial politicians do not historically do well federally.
But, this convention isn't about the past. In many ways, it is going to be a historic convention in its own right, which means all bets are off.
So, can Dion win? He certainly can, but it will be tough. Dion is in perhaps the hardest position of any candidate - he has to squeeze up past Gerard Kennedy, and replace Bob Rae as the not-Iggy candidate. Dion has many potential paths to the leadership; an endorsement from Ken Dryden, an endorsement from Gerard Kennedy, and an electrifying convention speech would all help, and are likely essential. Dion is in fourth; he has to wow the delegates with a powerful, passionate speech.
I don't know if he can do it. But here's hoping he does.