Monday, October 20, 2008

Stephane Dion: 'I failed.'

The big Canadian news of the day is that Liberal leader Stephane Dion will resign once a new leader is chosen. Dion acknowledged that the Liberal party was unable to sell its Green Shift plan to Canadians and blamed the Conservatives for framing him as someone he wasn't through their use of negative campaigning.

He also said the Conservatives had a "massive financial advantage" to "distort" his Green Shift plan and that the Liberals did not have the resources to fight back "given our existing financial crisis."

"It has been a mistake to go ahead with the Green Shift because we are not equipped to explain what it was," he said.

Dion said Tory "propaganda" about the plan was cemented in the minds of Canadians and "was the main reason why we lost."

Here's the deal: the Liberals unveiled a novel platform that they simply didn't have time to sell properly - despite the amount of money and "propaganda" the Cons employed. We have short election campaigns. That's a fact of life.

Secondly, the Liberals' campaign was disjointed, focused too much on Dion, and was continually playing catch up. The Cons waited until the last week to spring their platform on Canadians who didn't even have time to digest it. Their message was simply, 'trust Steve' and, for many voters, that worked. It wasn't a brilliant strategy since they still have a minority government but it was enough to convince at least some Canadians to turn to the Cons like a warm glass of milk before bed time after a long stressful day.

Thirdly, as I've said before, I really don't think the Liberals' 'vote for us - we're centrists' was a winning message. People understand left and right, liberal and conservative. Centrism is what, exactly? Just how many left-leaning voters did the party sacrifice to that meme - even if the fact that they are centrists is the truth?

So, regardless of the nice guy that he is, Dion has to go. Let's hope the Liberals don't take absolutely forever again to choose his successor. I damn near pulled my hair out the last time around - not because I'm a Liberal, I'm not. These long leadership races (like the excruciatingly nails-on-a-chalkboard-like race in the US) are wearing and are enough to make even seasoned political veterans want to take a vacation in some place peaceful by comparison - like Iraq.

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