I'm blown away
I can't believe that happened. Stephane Dion triumphed over a field of incredibly qualified and remarkable opponents, defeating an internationally renowned Harvard scholar, a vetern politician and former premier, and one of the most respected, genuine and classy politicians Canada has ever seen. Everyone who supported any candidate at all has good reason to be proud. I met a lot of great people this weekend who supported a wide array of candidates, and was impressed by all of them for their passion and their commitment to their beliefs and their enthusiasm for their candidates.
As my invitation was a media pass, I initially planned on wearing buttons for all of the candidates and simply reporting on what was going on. But I realized that, quite frankly, I don't like to project an air of unbiased reporting, because I feel there's no such thing. I like to wear my bias on my sleeve, so no one can convict me of intellectual dishonesty. As such, even though I couldn't vote, I couldn't help but rally for Stephane Dion; I've been doing that on this blog for the past several months, and I saw no reason to stop at the convention, especially when I saw the incredible energy being projected from the Dion camp.
Gerard Kennedy made what was quite possibly the classiest political move ever by removing himself from the third ballot and uniting with Dion to help ensure that at least one of them would become the leader. The sentiment within both camps was obvious; almost every Kennedy delegate cited Dion as their second choice, and vice versa. Kennedy may well have ensured the Dion's name ended up on the final ballot. He has ensured himself a very important place in any Liberal government, and quite possibly the support of a lot of Dion supporters should he ever decide to take another run at the leadership (and I know a lot of people hope he will.) I was talking to a friend who's hardly a political junkie, but watched the convention on CPAC, and she was blown away by Kennedy's speech, as was I. He made a good impression at this convention, and the great thing is, Dion can be reasonably confident that he can trust Kennedy, as he has shown himself to be trustworthy. He could have led a coup against Dalton McGuinty after the 1999 election, but he didn't.
I gained a lot of respect for Bob Rae when he refused to endorse any candidate on the final ballot, saying that the race should be decided by delegates, not a kingmaker. I couldn't agree more.
Michael Ignatieff's concession speech was very gracious, and very appropriate. I couldn't help but feel sorry for him, as is common for me; he had to have been as disappointed as Dion was ecstatic, and the same can be said to a lesser extent of their supporters. Ignatieff's rallying cry, "tous ensemble," ("all together) was repeated by delegates from all camps, and it was the theme of his wonderful concession speech. I'm aware of a piece of negative advertising floated by some Ignatieff people about Dion at the end (something about unelectability) but there's nothing that ties Ignatieff directly to that. I hope Ignatieff occupies an important place in a Liberal cabinet.
Martha Hall Findlay, remarkably, tripled her expected delegate count. That was remarkable, and her support very likely ensured that Stephane Dion was 100 votes ahead of Gerard Kennedy on the second ballot. Hall Findlay's support was less hyped but just as crucial in Dion's victory; were it not for her endorsement of Dion, the final ballot would likely have been Ignatieff vs. Kennedy.
Dion has been consistently underestimated since the start of this race, and it felt so good to see him win today. It will be nice to see Conservatives underestimate him in the next election (by the looks of it, they already are) when he becomes prime minister. This is a man who entered politics for all the right reasons - literally to serve his country, a service of the highest order: keeping Canada from breaking up. He deserved this victory.
It was a remarkable day; I'll not soon forget it. I'm very excited for the future of the country; I can't wait to see Stephane Dion follow through on his promises on the environment.