Friday, March 28, 2008

Stephane Dion — Worse Off Than Stockwell Day

Quebec Liberals no longer want Dion as their leader. They threaten to invoke a certain article of the Liberal party statute, that allows them to strip anyone (including the leader) of his party membership - unless Dion resigns voluntarily.

That story takes me back to 2001, when a similar leadership crisis was unfolding in the Canadian Alliance. The caucus, displeased with the results of the 2000 election (over 30% more votes, but only 10% more seats), wanted Stockwell Day to call the leadership vote. Day refused. Several Alliance MPs then left the caucus in protest.

The media sure had their fun back then, reporting each dissenting MP with gusto, guessing who was going to be next to quit the caucus and just making fun the whole story. Last year, when a similar crisis began unfolding in the Liberal party, the media was far more reserved. The fact that everyone suddenly started talking about it proves that things are getting really bad.

Sure, we don't yet have Liberal MPs quitting the caucus one after another, but the caucus is shrinking, despite the recent by-election wins. The list of the Liberal MPs that have resigned their seats or that have announced they won't run for re-election nears two dozens. Six months ago, speculations were that some of Dion's opponents in Quebec resorted to sabotaging the by-election in Outremont, willing to sink the leadership of Stephane Dion. Now they are willing to go as far as expelling him from the party...

The CBC panelists suggest this won't happen, since the caucus won't support the move. The Liberal caucus however has another option which wasn't available to the Alliance MPs - to force an election. It was suggested by the CBC panelists that Dion may soon be given an ultimatum by his caucus - show some leadership, force an election or resign. But in fact, the caucus may simply defy his order to not to show up at a confidence vote. And then...
"At this point in time, the Liberal Party of Canada can only rely on Ontario and the Maritimes to win over some votes. Membership is plummeting in Quebec, and some ridings wouldn't even have a Liberal candidate to vote for."
If Stephane Dion forces an election - he'll have to resign once the votes are counted. If he doesn't - he may still be forced to resign. Or the caucus may force an election against his will. It seems like Stephane Dion is even worse off than Stockwell Day was back in 2001.

And so is the Liberal party. At least, the Alliance had about 2 years after electing the new leader to unite its ranks and to recover from the crisis. The Liberal party doesn't have that much time.

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