Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I endorse... (Deja Vu)

Well, it may seem like I'm flip-flopping, and I suppose kind of am. As someone who does change his mind on occassion, in the world of politics I could easily be labelled as such.

Nevertheless, I do wish to retract my previous endorsement of Scott Brison; in September, I will be voting for Stephane Dion. This has nothing to do with a dislike of Brison - I was one of the first Libloggers to endorse him, and still have the greatest respect for him. I do genuinely hope he becomes the leader of the Liberal party, and prime minister, someday. But I do not believe that now is his time. Indeed, I think next time out, he will have a great deal more success than he will this time, as I've seen a great many Liberals expressing the same opinion - that is, that next time is his time. I have a two major concerns which led me to this decision - the first is that I do not believe he can win in Quebec at a time when we desperately need to; the second is that I do not believe there is enough distance between now and his support of the Iraq war and Afghanistan extension that it won't hurt him at the ballot box.

It is specifically the first concern which led me to rule out Kennedy (one of the reasons, anyway); so given that Kennedy's French is apparently better than Brison's, it's only fair that I apply the same standard to Brison himself. Also, it is this concern which leads me to endorse Stephane Dion. Of all of the candidates, Dion is the only one positioned to make gains in Quebec. At a time when we face not one but two strong challengers in Quebec, it is vital that the Liberal party have a leader who is both popular in Quebec and has a strong grasp of the French language - strong enough to be able to match Gilles Duceppe, and exceed Stephen Harper - in the French language leaders' debate. I believe that Dion is the only candidate which fits that description.

Also, going up against someone like Harper, it would seem vital to me that the leader of the Liberal party be at least a match for Harper intellectually. This is no easy task - Harper is a smart man. He has been described as a "policy wonk." Coincidentally, so has Stephane Dion. I've always been an advocate of the idea that the smartest guy, or close to it, should get to be in charge. Dion certainly fits this bill. I also ruled out Kennedy based on this - charismatic he may be, but from what I understand, I have more professional education than he does, and that worries me. Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff, Ken Dryden, and possibly Martha Hall Findlay are also intellectual matches for Harper, but I've ruled them out for various reasons.

Bob Rae is too much of a risk. As much as I like him, and would gladly follow him into an election, I fear that the Tories would be too easily able to exploit his unfortunate time as premier of Ontario - and we absolutely cannot afford to lose any more ground in Ontario than we already have. I have already made a lengthy post on why I think Ignatieff should not be leader. Ken Dryden is a good choice, I feel, but his French is too weak. As for Hall Findlay, fantastic candidate, and I've no doubt that if she won against Belinda in 2004 she would be considered a serious candidate today. But lack of political experience is not something I can live with.

An incidental concern is that I honestly don't think Brison will win - which means that, as I will likely not be going to the convention (I will be moving in September, which will make it doubtful that I would be able to get elected in my new riding, AND somehow raise $500, within less than a month), I would be leaving the Brison delegate I (presumptively) helped elect would be free to vote on later ballots for any candidate, including those I don't support. (I fear, specifically, that they would vote for Ignatieff.) This is the main reason why I support Belinda Stronach's proposals on party renewal. But anyway...

So, what does Dion have that makes me support him? Aside from his high IQ and his bilingualism, he also has ten years of federal political experience behind him - more than any of the frontrunners besides Rae - and eight years of federal cabinet experience, as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Environment, more cabinet experience than any of the other candidates. He has dealt with premiers and representatives of other countries, he has written letters articulating his ideas and defending the position of the federal government to the provinces in general, and Quebec in particular. He was responsible for the Clarity Act. To sum it up, he is the Jean Chretien (1984 and 1990) of the race - the experienced veteran who, while not as flashy or "new" or "fresh" as the other candidates (1984; 1990), can provide a stable, viable alternative to a Tory government that leaves much to be desired (1990). If anyone is capable of convincing Canadians that he has the experience and the record to lead, it's Stephane Dion.

He's also shown in the leadership "debates" that he's feisty. That's important when it comes to getting the message out, as well as debating Stephen Harper. While everyone is looking for the next Trudeau, really, what we should be looking for is the next Chretien, someone who combines experience and a certain comfort-level with his record, with a fighting spirit that's just as admirable as it is bankable. Really, the next Trudeau is a risky prospect - Trudeau himself was quite risky. Flashy and new, after all, are also words meaning untested and risky, and while the Trudeau gamble paid off beautifully, there's no guarantee it would net the same results again. Dion has that winning Chretien combination. Put it this way - this is a man who challenged Stephen Harper to debate him one-on-one about same-sex marriage. Not only is his smart and knowledgable enough to debate Harper, he's gutsy enough to issue the challenge in the first place. That's what we need. (For the record, Harper declined.)

Finally, and this means nothing to you (or at least it shouldn't, since one shouldn't base decisions on what other people "feel"), Stephane Dion gives me a good "feeling," the best of any of the candidates. I look at him and see a winner - not a guaranteed winner, but someone who has the best chance of winning. Over these past few weeks, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there are, at present, two realistic outcomes to the convention - a Kennedy victory or a Dion victory. The more I thought about that, the more I realized how much I wanted it to be Dion. And the more I thought about that, the more excited I became at the prospect, to the point where I am now unable to support anyone else.

So, good luck M. Dion. I wish you victory in December!


At 8/01/2006 6:02 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

I saw this one coming.

At 8/01/2006 6:07 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

ESP, Kyle? :p

At 8/01/2006 6:22 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

No. The writing was on the wall. You're a pragmatist so you would choose someone that you think could actually make it into the PM's chair this time around. You've stated several times that you only think Kennedy and Dion could win.

I figured you would go with Dion because you have consistently ranked him higher than Kennedy.

That combined that with the fact that you have had little positive to say about the Brison campaign, or its chances for success in a while clued me in.

At 8/01/2006 6:31 p.m., Blogger knb said...

I haven't made up my mind, (not that my voice counts), but having read your blog for a while, I'm glad to see you change your mind.

Your support for Brison didn't seem to fit for me. While I may disagree with the reason that you've changed your mind and I'm not sure I want to see him as PM in the future, (too right for me), I respect how you thought it through.

Ignore your critic's. Thoughtful analysis is worth it's weight in gold.

I disagree on your thoughts about Kennedy, but I think I do understand the value that education is an imperative today. Experience is important and exceptionally valuable. He'll be an interesting one to watch. Books/study, are of value in our world today. Basic smart's generally go further...does he have them, I don't know.

Good on you for taking a principaled decision.

At 8/01/2006 6:40 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

Whoa I missed the part where you emphasized the importance of formal education. Dont agree with you AT ALL on that one.

At 8/01/2006 7:15 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

Kyle: I figured you wouldn't, but I stand by it.

knb: Thank you, and understand that in the context in which I originally supported him (for PC leader) I was a bit more right-wing than I am now.

At 8/01/2006 7:21 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

Explain to me what can be gained by formal education that can't in everyday life. If Kennedy had been working it up at 7/11 boozing it up every night most of his life I would agree with you. But he was out getting REAL experience in the REAL world. Come down from the ivory tower. If I can do it, you can too.

At 8/01/2006 8:39 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit, while I like kennedy, and he definitely is my 3rd choice at this point, the whole education thing bothers me a little.

I know it may come off as snobby, I just don't like the idea of our Prime Minister just having a high school diploma.

I know lots of smart and successful people without degrees. However, when it comes to being a Prime Minister it kind seems like a standard requirement.

While he's living in Quebec for the summer brushing up on his french, he can finish up those last few credits ;)

At 8/01/2006 8:41 p.m., Blogger Red Tory said...

If not their first selection, Dion seems to be everyone’s second choice. If I was a wagering man, I’d bet on him to win this thing.

At 8/01/2006 9:13 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm impressed by your well thought out post.

you are right on the education thing. graduate degree is essentially mandatory.

also, i have that same 'feeling' about Dion. i know it's silly to say it.

anyway, i know its tough to make a post like you did and swallow a bit of pride. so kudos.

At 8/01/2006 9:15 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kennedy is a brilliant man. He finished high school at the age of 16. He has at least 4 years of university education and only left when he was asked to run a food bank. A PhD does not make you bright and does not make you more bright or knowledgeable that someone else. Kennedy has the same or better intellectual chops as Iggy or Dion.

Furthermore, less than 20% of Canadians have a university degree. The next Liberal Leader needs to relate to that 20% AND the other 80%. This is what the Conservatives have done successfully both in policy and fundraising. Kennedy is a grassroots politician that has both the education and political experience to connect to all voters. He has an impressive political record that is scandal free.

On the other hand, Dion was part of a tainted government and Quebecers have still not forgotten this. Let's remember that Stephen Harper had the 3rd or 4th best French of the 4 leaders in the French debate and he won the election! It is what you say to Quebecers that matters not how perfect your French is when you say it.

I will consider Dion as a possible 2nd choice but Kennedy is my strong 1st choice. I would like to see some real change in the Party.

At 8/01/2006 9:20 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dion has 'that vision thing'.

On every damn issue you can imagine.

It is refreshing in this world of retail/image politics to have a guy running on his vision.

At 8/01/2006 9:22 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. It takes balls to admit you were wrong. But even more to put it into writing!

At 8/01/2006 10:33 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

Thanks to everyone who's left me their kind words.

Kyle: Don't get me wrong, Kennedy's a good candidate, but I like Dion more. I'm sure he's smart, but there's just something about that "useless piece of paper" that we students talk about - there has to be, otherwise we wouldn't be seeking it! It just serves to solidify even further for me what is already a solid record - that is, I know he's damn near 100% when it comes to comprehension, creation and articulation of policies.

At 8/01/2006 10:42 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

The reason we get that "useless piece of paper" is to get a job. If I could have been a lawyer without it I would have dropped out years ago. Some of the crap you have to read in University is a total waste of time.

You are free to make a degree--or a graduate degree as one commenter seems to require; but that is the kind of attitude that will perpetuate the notion that we are a party of elitists. People who learned the ways of the world in other ways need not apply.

I do like Dion though, and that is a far enough pick. I just think the degree thing is stupid.

At 8/01/2006 10:45 p.m., Blogger Clear Grit said...

Well, I don't think having a degree is stupid. What do you have against people with degrees, KC? Why do you and your kind hate education?

Er, sorry, I was channelling our friend Mr. bio...

At 8/01/2006 10:49 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

My view is that a degree is generally a good thing; but it can be made up for (just as well) in other ways. I just reject the notion that one cannot have all the tools necessary to lead the country without it. It seems to me to be an elitist notion that a formal University education is the only way to go.

Furthermore, Kennedy has four years of University and barely didnt graduate. That makes the degree thing that much more assinine. In his case it REALLY IS just a piece of paper as he substantially finished the thing. And in light of WHY he left; I am prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

At 8/01/2006 11:43 p.m., Blogger robedger said...

Harper has not only his undergrad degree, but his Masters, and I remember him taking some flak for not being more educated.

Dion has his undergrad degree, and his masters, and a PhD. I think that is appropriate for someone looking to lead a country of Canada's stature.

When it comes to domestic and foreign policy, you just don't learn as much in the boardroom as you do in the library.

On a side note, I think that Post-secondary Education is about much more than merely job training. PSE allows you to develop your mind in a way that working a regular job often doesn't.

At 8/02/2006 3:18 a.m., Anonymous Anth said...

I would like to welcome you to the National Campaign for Mr. Dion.

At 8/02/2006 12:41 p.m., Blogger Matthew Naylor said...

You know, good on you. People should always have the ability and option to change their support in light of recent events and more information.

And, Kyle, while I don't think that formal education can be the end all be all of a decision, there certainly has to be some considerations to that effect.

Thanks for choosing a candidate with, as one of your other posters said "That Vision Thing".

Also, as far as I can tell, I don't know if you have to be a resident to vote or run in that riding. You should look into it. There are always options (ie. Getting people or corperations to donate to your riding association for your fees.)

Welcome to Equipe Dion!


At 8/02/2006 2:05 p.m., Blogger Kyle Carruthers said...

And, Kyle, while I don't think that formal education can be the end all be all of a decision, there certainly has to be some considerations to that effect.
Absolutely. If someone doesnt have a degree they would have to have done something to make up for it. I think Kennedy has, you are free to disagree. What I object to is making the lack of a degree a litmus test.

At 8/06/2006 5:16 p.m., Blogger Penny said...

I realise this thread has long since passed it's useful shelf life, but just wanted to say that I too was an early supporter of Brison's, although I never did figure out how to get the icon onto my blog, and I too have switched to Dion. He was always a close second for me anyway, thanks to his position on the environment.

My problem with Brison was his position on Iraq and Afghanistan. I understand his desire to assist in bringing human rights to those countries, but cannot defend the random killing of innocent people to do it.

Not being a pragmatist at all, I didn't think Brison had a chance anyway, but I like him as a person. OK, I'm a sucker, but he's really cute, has a good sense of humour, brilliant and focussed mind, great ideas on environment, education - and all of it business friendly... It's just the war thing...

Maybe next time.

Kennedy has no experience in federal politics and not that much, from what I gather, in provincial. Same with Dryden, Iggy, Hall Findlay - whom I liked too... I don't know much about Bennett and Bevilacqua.

The only other candidates who do have the federal experience seem to be Hedy Fry and Joe Volpe!! Eeek! So clearly federal experience has to be tempered by other qualities, eh?

At 8/07/2006 6:32 p.m., Anonymous burlivespipe said...

I'm also a tad late in applauding you engaging the 'option button' to change your choice for leader -- I believe over the next few months there will be a few more big bloggers out there doing the same, although most are fairly entrenched. I enjoyed the well-thoughtout rationale, too. I'd be interested in reading sometime how you -- someone who came from a PC background -- would consider endorsing (altho falling a little short, but still your words were very supportive) Bob Rae. I ask because I am a Rae backer who in my young days was a fan of Joe Who? I've swerved left and centre, but having met almost all the candidates came to believe that Rae with his ability to reason, his depth of experience, and handle the tough acts of politics, was the one to take on Harpor. English or french, he could lay forth the policy platforms, toss off a soft one-liner, or blast his opponent with two barrels. Yes, the Ontario question is there but I don't feel we can lose more than we already did under Martin, infact I think people underestimate Rae's appeal, both in a folksy and renaussance way, to the middle and lower incomers.
That said, Dion is in my top-3...


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