Friday, December 12, 2008

No One Else Is Worried About This?

Is no one else worried that Stephane Dion, our elected Leader, was forced to resign by the very same small number of caucus and National Executive members that drew up the rules that only left Michael Ignatieff to become interim leader and eventual leader?

No one else is worried that a small group of approximately a hundred party elites booted a leader elected by us, and basically appointed their choice of leader by creating rules that only left their candidate of preference to be appointed interim leader and eventual leader?

And if someone is to reply, "We had to act quickly to replace Dion," well as I alluded to above, we only had to act quickly because the caucus and National Executive members forced Dion to resign. And just coincidentally because they did force him out they were able to replace him with their choice.

Furthermore if someone is to reply, "Dion had to be forced out, for whatever reason, bad video, poor polling numbers etc," I would respond that either the coalition would vote against the Conservatives on Jan. 27th or it wouldn't. If it did, the coalition would almost certainly form government and Dion having a bad video or poor polling numbers would not matter. If the coalition did not bring down the Conservatives, then again Dion's weaknesses would not matter. Thus either way, Dion did not have to be forced out; which if he had not been, there would have been no emergency crisis for Ignatieff to be installed as interim leader and we as a Party could democratically select a leader.

I fully acknowledge our party has the established process of a leadership review, where caucus and the National Executive have the ability to remove our leader, but besides the fact no such official review was scheduled or one even took place, that is not what I'm worried about. I'm worried first about the motivations of the caucus and the National Executive, as there was no imminent reason to remove Dion, and second about their drawing of the rules to basically make Michael Ignatieff interim leader and eventual leader. Those reasons together with the fact those few Liberal elites forced Dion, an elected leader to resign, to install their own choice, worries me.

No one else is worried about this?

29 comments:

Neil said...

Nobody cares dude. Seriously, this has been about the quickest route to power from the get-go. Expect Tory attack ads coming out talking about the lack of democracy inside the Liberal coronation of Michael Ignatieff.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

I'm starting see that. Which is unbelievable. Seriously unbelievable. I can't believe how blind most of these bloggers are.

Neil said...

See, most Canadians don't follow politics other than the latest spin on Peter Mansbridge. Fewer still, read newspapers and fewer than that have so little of a life as to read what partisan bloggers have to say. I'd venture to say that most Canadians dislike Stephen Harper's leadership style, but they're cool with his management of the economy. (That might change, of course.) I suspect most Canadians have never heard of Michael Ignatieff and fewer still, will notice the way in which he came to power. I suspect finally, that the VAST MAJORITY of Canadians don't want anything to do with coalition politics where any coalition is in league with separatists. I imagine Canadian's distaste for Quebec separatists is reserved for things like tax increases and having your mother in law come for a visit.

The bloggers don't care about the IGGY thing because they hate Harper more than they might dislike the lack of democracy in the selection process.

Harper, by the way, will win the next election because Ignatieff's signature appears on the coalition document along with the names of the separatists the government would be beholden to. I expect Harper will capitulate to a budget that meets with Ignatieff's and the Liberal Caucus approval, but it will go back for an amendment before it is tabled and that amendment will be shutting the tax dollars out of political parties.

Ignatieff will be running a campaign with the stain of wanting to form a government with separatists and an election whose only reason for existence is Liberal/NDP distaste for losing tax dollars to support their parties.

Seriously, Harper won the PR war over the Financial Update and the week from hell we just went through. Canadians hate separatists. That's why they will vote for an asshole like Harper because he's seen as a victim in all of this, even though he started it.

tarobins said...

Is this like the time you whined on and on about Clinton loosing the nomination? How long can we expect the tears this time?

Robin Goodfellow said...

Leadership requires us to make tough choices.

The coalition was not trusted under Dion. The Liberal Party could not run an effective opposition, let alone a coalition, let alone an election campaign under Dion.

Canadians deserve a functioning opposition to hold the government to account in these turbulent times. And quite frankly our responsibility to Canadians - all Canadians - far outweighs our rights as Liberal party members.

So, knowing that we may be heading into a coalition or election situation, and with the understanding that Canada desperately needs governance and leadership, what would you rather have?

a) A hamstrung opposition without power or perceived legitimacy, led either by a rejected Stephane Dion or a lame-duck interim leader that no one will take seriously?

b) An expedited leadership contest that at first glance appears to be democratic, but which in fact circumvents our own Constitution, and in so doing, goes against the democratically determined rules of our Party? (what would the Tory attacks be then? Perhaps: "how can the Liberals defend the Canadian constitution when they are in bed separatists, and can't even live up to their own?)

c) An executive decision to install an interim leader who, in all likelihood, will become our permanent leader, who while not being democratically chosen now, will have to face a fully democratic convention process in May, where he may be rejected if the membership so chooses?

Given the options, I choose option "C".

whopitulia said...

Most of the grassroots don't feel connected to the leadership process and they just shrug it off. What is needed is a type of concerted effort like Fair Vote Canada to try and organize delegates to vote in favour of some form of OMOV. I hope that will be the hot ticket in May.

Joseph said...

Scott,

I really appreciate your drive and idealism, but as someone who's been around a bit longer I have to say the answer is No.

No, I'm not worried about this at all. I think you are a bit too focused on the sideshow.

Dion had plenty of opportunities to show strength and control over caucus, and he failed to do so. Any leader in a democracy is his ability to retain the trust of the public. If Dion had ever gained that to any notable degree, he would not have been questioned. Even so, he was given an opportunity to exit gracefully after a damning defeat in a national election.

Then, as fortune would have it, he was presented with another golden opportunity to reintroduce himself to the nation as potential PM. After a flat performance from the idealogue PM, he had the opportunity to rise to the occasion and tell the nation who he was, why he was willing and able to lead the nation, and why he was worthy of the trust in the nation.

Instead, it became another bumbling, late, fuzzy (literally) moment that only served to reiterate and magnify the faults the nation as a whole had already rejected.

And I say that as someone who genuinely likes and respects Dion . . . just imagine what others are saying.

Bottom line, he fumbled again.

So, frankly, I'm relieved the Liberal party showed nimble speed in finding away to solve the leadership question at a time of critical importance as Harper shows his fangs more with each passing day.

Relieved is an understatement. Extraordinary situations require an extraordinary response. If you cannot see that there was widespread disappointment over Dion, you are blinding yourself to the reality. With any show of support or resilience, Dion would not have faced this situation.

I suggest you reflect carefully on what the real concerns of the nation are, and remember why you are a liberal / progressive blogger in the context of the direction of Canada as a whole.

Dion would never have been "installed" as leader, with everything just peachy. He would have faced an election - rightly so - immediately or within a few months. The public would have demanded it, and he would not have fared well, except in the most favorable of fantasies of his most ardent (and dwindling) supporters.

That's the truth. I've been around long enough to recognize reality.

If I honestly thought there was some horrid mass conspiracy to harm a genuinely divine man (if one exists), I would be upset as well.

But the truth is the leaders of the Liberal party - with vocal and tangent support up and down the line - acted to resolve a bad situation that had the possibility of sprouting into an unmitigated disaster.

Pearce Richards said...

Oh please, you didn't elect Dion. Gerard Kennedy did.

Reform your outdated delegate system before you go bitching and moaning.

Andrew said...

Michael Ignatieff stole power in a totally undemocratic way. Wheter or not he would have been the eventual winner is besides the point at least he would have followed the Liberal Constitution and been properly elected by members of the party. What can we expect though from a guy who has lived more of his life in the USA than here. He has proven he is no different than Stephen Harper in that he cares more about his personal ambition than he does about the democratic process and this country. For all you Iggy supporters you should all be ashamed that Canada and the Liberal Parties self proclaimed prodigal son has turned out to be a power hungry over ambitious chump.

MississaugaPeter said...

Scott,

As you grow older and more wise, you will become older and less idealistic.

Your youthful enthusiasm is great, and it is youthful enthusiasm that HAS NOT BEEN GIVEN enough credit for many of the world's greatest advancements.

However, with television first, and now the Internet, providing free opium to the masses in the Western democracies, people are now more than ever, less likely to get off their couches and chairs and try to change the world.

There are many far greater wrongs in Canada - the continued despicable treatment of our Aboriginal Peoples and the 1 in 5 children in our wealthy nation living in poverty - are the first two that come to my mind.

Accept what happened in the Liberal Party as best. The only person who was left running for leader became leader. Michael Ignatieff did not circumvent democracy. He became leader after all others dropped out. It happens in sports, and it happens in politics. Now use your youthful enthusiasm attacking a problem in Canada that you can be a part of changing - ending the reign of Stephen Harper.

Pearce Richards said...

I'll say it again, slowly...

The Liberal Party of Canada followed its constitutionally mandated procedure for selecting a leader outside of a leadership convention.

Bob Rae, beign the party loyalist he is, spared the Liberal party months of bickering and infighting by gracefully bowing out and endorsing Ignatieff.

However, Rae Liberals seem to want to continue to bicker and infight, despite his calls for unity.

I'm starting to think these "Liberals" are just concern trolls.

If you are truly Liberals, you would stop the bickering and move forward.

One more time, because I don't think you people are getting it:

The Liberal Party of Canada followed its constitutionally mandated procedure for selecting a leader outside of a leadership convention.

Don't like it? Become a delegate and come to Vancouver in May to vote for One Member One Vote... Something the Liberals VOTED DOWN in the last convention.

Your bed. Sleep in it.

Ted said...

"If you are truly Liberals, you would stop the bickering and move forward."

I think that it is going a bit far to question someone's loyalty and "Liberal-ness" because they are upset about this Pearce.

I am very happy with the result, think it is fully constitutional, think it was done with not only the best intentions but with the best interests of the party and the country in mind. I have long supported MI and think we have a great leader in our midst.

But that is not to say that I am fully comfortable with how he got there. That some are upset is natural and to be expected. Let's not turn our guns on our own right now: that turns these days of frustration and anger into lasting bitterness.

But let me also say remind Scott that Dion had announced his resignation. I have no qualms about the party, the caucus in particular that has to fight with him in Ottawa and on the airwaves every day, deciding that it is better to move him out a little earlier than he had initially thought. So he is not being forced to resign. That is a hyperbolic inflammatory accusation. He was on his way out and is just retiring a few months earlier for the good of the party. And it IS good for the party for him to be gone for too many reasons to repeat here.

Moreover, I genuinely believe Dion when he says he thinks, given all that has gone, that it is the right time now to move on, that we need the new leader in there now. Surely, you are not claiming Dion is lying?

Ted said...

"If you are truly Liberals, you would stop the bickering and move forward."

I think that it is going a bit far to question someone's loyalty and "Liberal-ness" because they are upset about this Pearce.

I am very happy with the result, think it is fully constitutional, think it was done with not only the best intentions but with the best interests of the party and the country in mind. I have long supported MI and think we have a great leader in our midst.

But that is not to say that I am fully comfortable with how he got there. That some are upset is natural and to be expected. Let's not turn our guns on our own right now: that turns these days of frustration and anger into lasting bitterness.

But let me also say remind Scott that Dion had announced his resignation. I have no qualms about the party, the caucus in particular that has to fight with him in Ottawa and on the airwaves every day, deciding that it is better to move him out a little earlier than he had initially thought. So he is not being forced to resign. That is a hyperbolic inflammatory accusation. He was on his way out and is just retiring a few months earlier for the good of the party. And it IS good for the party for him to be gone for too many reasons to repeat here.

Moreover, I genuinely believe Dion when he says he thinks, given all that has gone, that it is the right time now to move on, that we need the new leader in there now. Surely, you are not claiming Dion is lying?

Yappa said...

I felt the way you did, and argued it on my blog, right up to the moment that Rae resigned. Then I through my support behind our new leader. My reason: both Dion and Rae resigned of their own free will. There's nothing undemocratic about pressuring someone to resign.

The Pontificator said...

Well, Scott, many people are. It's just that the little group of libloggers who feel they have the right to represent the views of everyone and no one, are in and of themselves their own little party elite. Unable to say just how many of them really hold to their own opinions or to their talking points.

RuralSandi said...

The people pushed Dion out. You just have to face it.

We have a crisis in government and economy like we haven't seen in this country in 80 years.

Having Ignatieff in gives the party breathing space to develop policies like democratic reform in the party - make use of it instead of whining. No body likes a whiner.

Make lemonaid out of lemons as they say like any industrious person would do.

Dion has been saved further embarrassment and further attacks and further humiliation and he deserves to be spared that.

Gerry said...

I am not concerned about how the party selected Mr. Ignatieff to lead nor am I concerned about the timing. First of all, it was done according to the rules of our constitution. One can argue that those rules need to change, but the rules were indeed followed. Liberals who dislike our process for selecting our leader, and that includes me, need to change with a resolution at the upcoming convention. I am 100% in favour of a one-person one-vote selection process, and prefer that members have the opportunity to vote electronically using a preferential ballot. As for the timing of Mr. Dion's exit, only his blindest supporters believed he still had the confidence, authority, and indeed a reason, to continue. He has been a dead man walking since the election. How was it good for the Liberal Party, and indeed the country, for him to hang on during such political turbulence and upheaval?

Gerry said...

I am not concerned about how the party selected Mr. Ignatieff to lead nor am I concerned about the timing. First of all, it was done according to the rules of our constitution. One can argue that those rules need to change, but the rules were indeed followed. Liberals who dislike our process for selecting our leader, and that includes me, need to change with a resolution at the upcoming convention. I am 100% in favour of a one-person one-vote selection process, and prefer that members have the opportunity to vote electronically using a preferential ballot. As for the timing of Mr. Dion's exit, only his blindest supporters believed he still had the confidence, authority, and indeed a reason, to continue. He has been a dead man walking since the election. How was it good for the Liberal Party, and indeed the country, for him to hang on during such political turbulence and upheaval?

burpnrun said...

Well, Scott. I guess you have your answer now. Because, in the end, the responses above indicate:

1. They couldn't care one iota about democracy, the way you and all other principled people do;

2. The name of the game is Power at Any Cost, no matter how they explain it away.

Sucking and blowing at the same time has become such a polished performance of most Liberals, that I don't expect other wise.

Contrast to Harper: true leadership conventions and democratic party mergings, true platform developed and endorsed by membership, tries to keep his promises.

Contrast to: every Liberal is still waiting for Belinda's report on how to overcome the LPC's democratic deficit (file give to her by Martin); and for Rae's report on a draft platform for the party (file given to him by Dion).

I rest my case.

Ted said...

Contrast to Harper:

- deliberately keeps Parliament from sitting for almost a year during an economic crisis

- breaks his fixed date election law and promise to hold an unnecessary and expensive election

- breaks his promise to work with the other parties for the betterment of Canada

- cancels an opposition day and a vote on his own fiscal update in order to avoid a democratic vote in Parliament

- cancels Parliament altogether to avoid a vote of no confidence

- uses this cloudy period of legitimacy to ram through dozens and dozens and dozens of patronage appoints, including a record breaking 18 senators

- breaks his promise (again) not to appoint unelected senators

- broke his promise not to tax income trusts

- illegally records private caucus meetings of other parties

- offers "financial considerations" for an MP's vote

- cheats on the election financing rules with in-and-out

- tells his grassroots supporters not to expect their resolutions to be accepted by him and that they are just one among many "stakeholders" for the Conservative Party (who are the other stakeholders who can tell the party what to do he doesn't say)

- still refuses to tell us who is big financial backers were in his leadership bid and who paid off all of McKay's leadership bid loans

Liberals do not need to and should not take democracy lessons from Stephen Harper

Ted said...

I rest my case.

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

I agree with you Scott. PET would have too. When you're feeling down seeing Liberals sell out convictions for intra-partisan calculations, reread Federalism & the French Canadians and other collections of PET's. What should we call these people, the defrocked princes of political calculation? Stick fast to your ideas & ideals and you can't go wrong.

Antonio said...

Hey Forsey

ask Quebecers about the wonderful democratic ideals of Pierre Elliot Trudeau

hehe

Eugene Forsey Liberal said...

Antonio's comment tells you all you need to know about the kind of people behind Iggy in QC

Saskboy said...

Someone somewhere mused about the Liberal constitutionality of Dion remaining on as interim leader after announcing his resignation intention in October.

thescottross.blogspot.com said...

Saskboy: I'm not sure if you're alluding to the idea that I was the one who did that 'musing' but I will emphasize it was not I. Not here nor on any other blog. I don't see anything wrong with an interim leader that Liberals selected.

Demosthenes said...

"Leadership requires us to make tough choices."

Well, Robin, if you're going to go suspending democracy in an organization in all but name, this is certainly the right kind of line to justify it!

One only hopes that Ignatieff doesn't start riding around in the back of a jeep wearing fatigues.

(And I especially like the "there will be a fully democratic leadership race later" line after the other guy has already pulled out. Ballots with "The Glorious Leader" and "Other" on 'em? Now THAT'S democracy!)

Demosthenes said...

Though, honestly, you weren't quite as good as the guy saying "the Liberal Party of Canada followed its constitutionally mandated procedure for selecting a leader outside of a leadership convention."

Brilliant! If the fact that the same thing could be said of the Chinese Communist Party doesn't stop him, what could?

In any case, I suspect there will be a really good book in about 20 years or so that will tell the story of just how Rae got forced out.

Spudster said...

Scott, I was very mad at the decision to appoint Iggy as leader, and I say this as a delegate who went to Montreal and stuck with Ignatieff all the way to the last, bitterly fought ballot. The idea of not consulting with the grassroots appeared to confirm every suspicion I had with this party over their lack of grassroots engagement.

There is no way of realistically changing what happened. That said, I think we must focus our efforts on changing the constitution to prevent such a thing from EVER happening again. If we don't do this, I think there is a genuine possibility that all future Liberal leaders will be appointed by caucus, a precedent I think many elite liberals would prefer.

I think we need to change the constitution to outline:

A. No leader can be appointed as interim leader if they are also a declared leadership race candidate.

B. The Liberal party must maintain an up to date membership list that is ready and capable of holding an immediate OMOV system on the demand.

This way, if a "permanent" leader is truly needed, it must be done through a grassroots consultation, and NOT through the executive as we saw with Ignatieff. This would also allow for times of crisis, such as the period we are in now, to still allow for an effective democratic consultation system if a permanent leader is considered a priority.

I think this is a very fair balance. Even if OMOV itself is not passed (I've heard good arguments against an OMOV system that does not include regional representation), such a system that includes the above two ideas would do much to ensure grassroots engagement during a leadership crisis.