Friday, September 28, 2007

Jamie Carroll, etc…: Have Some Perspective & Tolerance people! Please!

Given the completely ridiculous stuff being written in the media around Caroll, and seeming that virtually every other Liberal blogger has also commented on it, I will lend my two or three cents as well. First of all, I think as Liberals we should give Stéphane the benefit of the doubt, in addition to Carroll and agree that Caroll proably didn’t say the things attributed to him. What was spread was probably done by people that obviously never liked Carroll (or probably even Dion) in the first place. Meanwhile, I’m sure Dion actually will hire more Francophones for his team, and welcome/consider any and all interested individuals.

Still, this matter needs to be closed soon. Any divides need to be mended. Any dissenters need to “get over it”, all of it, and publicly accept that they could have been mistaken in what they thought they heard. Both sides on this spat need to publicly come to terms on this, even though this issue NEVER should have been made public in the first place. It’s out now though so it needs to be get settled fast. My mother always taught me not to air the family’s dirty laundry in public. Where are the parenting skills in this party? And where is the respect among the “children” for their “parents”?

Second of all, for those talking already about the demise of the Liberal party, I remind people of what I said after Outremont. For pete’s sake people, have some perspective and remember the last time we were in opposition and how hard that was (and again it was hard in Quebec). Jean Chrétien was hated by certain circles in Quebec too and the media talked then as well about what an awful leader he was (Chrétien himself has said he hated the job of opposition leader) and he was in the SAME place in the polls vs. the Conservatives going into the 1993 election as the latest poll has the Liberals. There were quite a good number of people in the media who thought Kim Campbell would mop the floor with tired old “yesterday’s man” Chrétien and she ranked way ahead of him in personal likeability going into that election. Look how that turned out. Now everyone talks about how charismatic Chrétien is (not in those days) and Chrétien increased his seat count in Quebec in each subsequent election. Today, similar people in the media, who have no memory of that election or time apparently, are confidently predicting that Harper will dominate the Liberals because of their supposed poor leader.

On that note, I have no idea why Chantal Hébert has such a hate-on for Dion these days. After all it was her who originally suggested way back in January, 2006 that Dion would be a good fit for the Liberal leadership race and that he could help them in Quebec.

"If the Liberals are to move them past those episodes, they may have to look beyond Cauchon, perhaps to the brainy Stéphane Dion, to help them get there(bring back Quebec). If this is to be a Liberal year when talking heads matter more than political animals, a rare time when participating in the race could be as important as winning it, Dion would be a good fit for this campaign."

h/t to BC'er (good thing he kept it in his archives, the article has disappeared from the Star website)

Since Dion’s been elected (and even a bit before then) it’s been non-stop negativity from her. As far as I know Dion hasn’t changed in his perspectives on Quebec (which are what some nationalist Quebec Liberals seem to be angry about). Who knows, maybe Dion unintentionally snubbed her at some event and she never let it go? Either way, comparisons to Stockwell Day are completely ridiculous, the Alliance were in the teens in the polls at that time and it was because of constant dumb things Stockwell Day himself said, what gaffes has Dion committed? Ok he’s not your classic retail politician, but the Star commented yesterday what a real person, not politician he is. I think people will warm up to that. Also, like Chrétien he will have a solid Red Book to bring to the people and he will win them over on the campaign trail so long as he gets the party behind him. And then we will all win. Truth be told there’s a hell of a lot of work to be done still in Quebec (and elsewhere) from the organizational, fundraising and even the unity perspective. But this latest spat really this just boils down to people who just desperately don’t want Dion to succeed and will do everything in their power to ensure he doesn’t and they don’t seem to care if they bring down the whole party in doing so.

I would never for a second suggest this has anything to do with any politician, it does not. However, there definitely is a problem among some Quebec Liberals on the ground who clearly would like to see Dion turfed (though I can’t believe how moronic they are by not seeing that what they are doing could only in the long-run serve to kill the party in Quebec in a way a new leader could not bring back). And to the so-called Liberals who can’t help but constantly bash Dion on the side (in Quebec and outside of it and I’m not talking about people who give constructive criticism now and then, I’m referring to those for whom it’s a constant pattern), you should respect the leader we as a party elected or stop calling yourself a federal Liberal.

Personally though, I do think that former leadership candidates do need to be standing out in public (especially in Quebec) with Stéphane right now, not just at semi-private fundraising events. It’s not that Stéphane can’t make the case himself it’s that the party really needs strong shows of unity – not just words - and while Stéphane is still playing reasonably well in other parts of the country, he needs really to boost his numbers in Quebec. Ignatieff was/is popular in Quebec so he needs to go on a strong offensive to make the case for Dion there and he needs help quiet the buzz from Quebec. He should also come out publicly and condemn people who are undermining unity. Wouldn’t hurt to have Rae out there doing the same (once he is well enough), as he remains respected in Quebec as well.

Stéphane meanwhile has to remember the days of Chrétien and also not only publicly condemn those rogue MPs but he can’t tolerate this kind of public dissent. I personally don’t think that anyone should should sit on any Liberal party executive board or, if an elected member, remain in caucus, if you publicly question or undermine the leader in this severe of fashion (privately criticizing the leader face to face on matters like this is certainly tolerable, that’s what caucus meetings can be for, but when you take it public in this manner you damage the party as a whole, so why continue to call yourself a Liberal). Those Liberals who directly caused this media fracas need to learn that they can’t just do this with impunity. If someone leaves caucus to protest, they will likely lose their seat in the next election so that’s their call to make if they want to be that inflexible.

Ultimately, I return to my point that Chrétien was once thought to be doomed to fail under remarkably similar circumstances. He pulled way to three straight wins. Everyone loves him now. I’m confident Dion can do the same. He’s a great guy, there’s no denying that. I’m still undecided on whether a fall election makes sense, but I’m confident that if the entire party apparatus actually gets behind Dion (and his team) across the country, I know Dion will do his part on the campaign trail (with what I’m sure will be just as compelling of a Red Book as in 1993) to bring home the next election for the Liberals. But we all need to do this together. Everyone has their time to shine, and right now it’s Mr. Dion’s. Let’s let him do his job, and help him do it well.

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SJ said...

Everyone loves Jean Chrétien? That's simply not true (and I am not referring to myself, but to many, many other people).

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

DT : bien dit! (well said!)

Anonymous said...

Yes sj that was the main focus of her post. Still by the end of his tenure he was pretty with Canadians (doesn't mean all Canadians) and even Harper's advisors have been known to ask "What would Chretien do?"

femmeverte said...

Thanks for this breath of fresh air / splash of cold water, Danielle. You're right, the party needs to be solidly behind Dion and discuss and resolve any "issues" privately. The party made a conscious decision to select Dion as leader after 10 long months of examination. It wasn't a fluke or an accident and it certainly wasn't a mistake. We should remember that other leadership contenders made the occasional faux-pas before the convention - they would have been eaten alive by Harper by now.

(As for Chrétien - maybe everybody doesn't actually love him but there's a lot of gushing now about his "charisma.")

Anonymous said...

In regards to Dion being like Chrétien, you're forgetting one major important detail... Chrétien had the help of the Reform Party in vaulting to power.

Dion has no such help here.