Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Dion's sinking fortunes
John Turley-Ewart, National Post February 14, 2007

If polls are to be believed, Stephane Dion is having trouble putting a positive spin on the Liberal party brand.

A Leger Marketing poll, conducted between Jan. 30 and Feb. 4, showed 38% of voters support Stephen Harper's Conservatives versus 31% who support Mr. Dion's Liberals. More troubling for the Liberals is the CPAC-SES leadership report card released this week. It shows a positive trend for Mr. Harper, with his percentage scores on trust (+14), competence (+17) and his vision for Canada (+14) all rising since the January, 2006, general election.

Mr. Dion trails the Prime Minister by significant margins in every one of these categories. On competence and vision, Mr. Dion polls below where Paul Martin was just days before he lost the 2006 election.

The folks who produced the Conservatives' recent anti-Dion TV ads (which began running in English two weeks ago, and hit Quebec's French language airwaves yesterday) are likely patting themselves on the back. But like all good ads, they merely play upon pre-existing doubts about their target. The truth is that Mr. Dion projects a weak, elitist image. And on some of the most important issues, he seems something worse: hypocritical.

Consider Afghanistan. In November, 2005, the Liberals' defence minister, Bill Graham, was preparing to send our troops into battle near Kandahar. He warned the House of Commons, "It is clear that it is not a peacekeeping mission" and declared "we have to bring stability to the area if ultimately there will be peace ... so the society can develop." But under Mr. Dion, the Liberal party seems poised to become the party of cut-and-run. The Liberal leader himself says the mission authorized by Paul Martin suddenly "has changed," and seems itching to withdraw Canadian troops from the south, where the actual fighting is being done.

On the environment, Mr. Dion's obsession, the Liberals' greener-than thou message also appears hypocritical. Last summer, Mr. Dion told a National Post columnist that Canada should remain a signatory to Kyoto, but could not meet Kyoto emission reduction targets by 2012. Now the Liberals are supporting a Liberal MP's private member's bill on emission reductions that, if it becomes law, would compel the Harper government to do what Mr. Dion couldn't do as environment minister because -- as he knew then and knows now --Canada would take an enormous economic hit.

National security is another area in which the Liberals have flip flopped. It was only a few weeks ago that the Liberal party supported the extra anti-terror policing powers they approved in the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act, powers that permit investigative hearings of material witnesses in terror cases and preventative arrest without bail for 72 hours. Now, in a move that suggests they've forgotten all about 9/11, the Liberals declared these measures "draconian," and will no longer support them.

Even on accountability, the issue that got them turfed from office, the Liberals seem willing to back-track. In late January, Mr. Dion appeared ready to welcome Marc-Yvan Cote back into the Liberal fold, a man banned from the party for life by Paul Martin after admitting at the Adscam inquiry that he distributed packets of cash totalling $120,000 to 12 Liberal candidates in Eastern Quebec in the 1997 federal election -- money obtained from an official at the Liberal party's Quebec office. "It's clear we can't keep out forever people who made errors," shrugged Mr. Dion.

Add to this Liberal party musings that men will be forbidden to run as candidates in some ridings in order to meet a 33% quota for female candidates in the next election-- this from a party where female leadership candidates complained that Liberal women would not support them -- and voters have a picture of a political party that is neither principled, pragmatic nor responsible. Whatever doubts Canadian voters have about Mr. Harper, his leadership seems steady compared to the shifting, left-wing populism of the new Liberal leader.


Anonymous said...

That Leger poll is getting a lot of traction considering every other polling form in the country is reporting a statistical tie.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

"Once we know people's stories, we feel compassion instead of judgment, remember everyone has a story."

That is awesome. Your post is great too!