The results of the third ballot on Saturday took my breath away. I always thought Dion could win, but I was astonished at the sheer scale of the switch by Kennedy delegates to Dion. Clearly it was a large number of anti-Rae (& anti-Ignatieff for that matter) Ontario delegates who made the difference.
In some ways it was a process of elimination: the long race revealed Ignatieff’s fundamental flaws, Rae despite a skilled performance simply wasn’t acceptable to the Ontario wing of the party, and Kennedy could not speak French.
It is a little unwise in the immediate wake of such an event to make sweeping comments about the consequences of such an event, but the pundits have weighed in, and their negativity is summed up nicely in this post by Paul Wells.
It is foolish to make glib comments on what will happen in Quebec, as many do, in the next election. It is a notoriously difficult province to read. Ahead of time no one predicted Chrétien’s success in 2000, or Harper’s breakthrough in 2006. Dion does start at almost an historic low point for the Liberals in Quebec. Perhaps he has nowhere to go but up?
Dion may not win the next election (governments usually defeat themselves). The Globe poll this morning makes also clear he is simply not well known in English Canada. But he is smart and savvy, and his 10 years of political experience will serve him well. The test will come with the demands of being number one in the organization, the test Martin failed so miserably.
His most important advantage is that he is the first post-Inconvenient Truth major party leader in Canada, and TC thinks the zeitgeist will see astonishingly rapid growth in concern about global warming in the next few years. No one is now better situated to take advantage of that.