I still like Stephane Dion. He's running a great leadership campaign. He's doing really well in the debates. He has ideas and vision and he's obviously competent. He almost has it all.
Almost... but I'm still not over the hurdle that he's from Quebec. For nearly 40 years, Canada has had a Prime Minister from Quebec (not counting three who lasted 9 months or less). Before the Bloc, the Quebec swing vote determined which party would win, so to win a fedeal election a party's leader had to be from Quebec. With the Bloc all that was supposed to change, but somehow it didn't.
And just as importantly... he is part of the group that did a lot of good things but that also took the Liberal party off-track: the Chretien and Martin governments. I'm not saying that he was part of the Martin-Chretien feud or the sponsorship scandal or the decision to reduce social programs, foreign aid and environmental spending, but he was a very senior member of the group that did all that. It was a hard time for the party to stay true - no viable opposition, seemingly unending majorities - but they should have. Renewal is the most important thing for the party right now, and despite all his passion and fresh ideas, Dion is one of the old guard.
Bottom line: I want a Liberal leader who's not from Quebec and who represents a new start for the party. It's an emotional thing, and perhaps I can overcome it. I'm not sure about that.
But there's a more serious issue: can Canadians overcome it? Dion is not popular in Quebec. His English is difficult to understand because of his strong accent. Because he was a cabinet minister, he could be vulnerable to attack on all the failings of the previous administrations. Can he beat Harper? I think he could do a good job as PM, but I'm not sure he could get there.
On the other hand, we have three strong qualified front-running leadership candidates (Ignatieff, Dion and Rae) and all of them have handicaps.