Friday, December 08, 2006

Why the Liberal Leadership Campaign Sucked, Part 1

I'm happy that Stephane Dion won, and I approve of everything I've seen since he became leader. I didn't support him, but I stated repeatedly in this blog that I'd be happy if he won.

But I'm still completely discouraged and unhappy about the campaign. My number one reason is the way Dion won. It was legal but it seems shady and underhanded.

Dion came into the convention in 4th place. As Stephen Harper reminded us this week, 80% of the delegates voted for someone else on the first and second ballots. How did Dion overcome that? It took three things: a secret deal with the guy in 3rd place; a youth demographic supporting the guy in 3rd place who were likely to follow their candidate; and some very precise timing. The timing was this: Kennedy didn't announce that he was throwing his support to Dion until after the third ballot candidate names had been announced - which was when Ignatieff and Rae discovered that Kennedy was not on the ballot, and it was too late for them to react.

Contrast this with some truly noble conventions, like the 1995 NDP convention when Svend Robinson got the most votes on the first ballot, but conceded and threw his support behind Alexa McDonough to ensure party unity. Or the January, 1983 PC convention where Joe Clark resigned his leadership because 33% of delegates voted for a leadership review - even though 67% voted against a leadership review.

There was a mountain of hot air spouted during the campaign about party reform, but what did it mean? A whole lot of steaming nothing. The man who "owned" the reform issue, Gerard Kennedy, is the other part of the secret deal. Delegates voted on moving to a one member-one vote format for future leadership conventions, but they voted down the motion. And what was the main reason not to move to this infinitely fairer format? They thought they'd lose the big cosy convention.

Ick ick ick.



Manley Man said...

Secret deal? hadn't you read a newspaper for two months before?

Dion did not win on the third ballot, Rae still could have went to Ignatieff if he had wanted to.

There is more to party reform than OMOVW.

Darren McEwen said...

I'd like to propose this scenario though.

Kennedy announces right away that he's not on the next ballot. He says he's endorsing Dion (I think we can agree that he should be able to endorse candidates) and he asks his delegates to do the same but that they're free to support whoever.

Would that have changed anything?

What would Rae and Ignatieff's plans been in that case? I doubt anything different from what transpired.

Kennedy supporters were in Dion's corner if Kennedy went down and, for the most part, vice versa.

Party renewal doesn't mean you can't endorse candidates after you decide to drop out. That's all Gerard did was endorse a candidate.

Sure he waited 15 minutes but if you were anywhere near the Kennedy suite you would have seen why it took him that long. It was gut wrenching seeing his closest supporters/family members and Gerard decide if he should drop out or go another round.

If Gerard had announced he was dropping out right after the results of the ballot were read, what would Rae and Ignatieff have done to stop Dion that they couldn't do in the more than one hour that they had to convince delegates during the next round of voting?

UWHabs said...

To be fair, Kennedy did start his walk over before they announced the names, but the press was all over him so he basically couldn't make it over in time.

And secondly, even us people who WERE delegates for Kennedy didn't find out until we didn't hear his name not listed on the ballot, and at that, there was not enough time to actually organize anything. Nobody really knew what was going on on the floor, and all parties had an equal chance to convert us. Heck, I'd be willing to bet that if we had a 3 hour break in that time for everyone to get organized we wouldn't see any fewer votes going to the other 2.

IslandLiberal said...

Regarding the 80% figure: so what? Ultimately, 55% thought he was the best choice. That's how multi-ballot conventions work.

There's nothing underhanded about the Dion/Kennedy deal, either. It's completely legitimate for one candidate to make a deal to endorse and support another. Likewise, if Kennedy's youth delegates want to follow his judgment, that's valid. Regarding the ballot issue, Rae and Ignatieff are not entitled to know what the other teams are doing; besides, Rae could have endorsed Ignatieff after he dropped off if he wanted to, but he didn't.

As for the convention vs. one member thing, both systems have their advantages. However, the proposal before the convention had had that ridiculous youth amendment attached to it, which is why I voted against it.

Steve said...


Anonymous said...

Your post is a load of garbage.

Kennedy waited until Dryden was finished speaking to his delegates and completed his move to Rae, because he is a nice guy.

He was then told he had one minute to decide if he was on or off the ballot. No time to announce anything to his delegates or anyone.

He had every right to support whoever he wanted to support.

KC said...

No matter who had won, they would have won despite not being the first choice of 70%+ of those who voted at DSMs.

No matter who had won, they would have won via the support of others.

These are non-issues.

Anonymous said...

The only thing that is "ick ick ick" is the crazy rumours people from all camps seem to be creating to make reality jive with their pre-conceptions of politics.

Kennedy saw the results, and that he'd only gained 30 votes on the second ballot. He met with his family, caucus and core staff. Most wanted him to stay one more round. He didn't see that he had the potential to grow, and so of his own conviction he walked over to the camp of the candidate whose views most matched his own.

There was no deal, secret or otherwise.

No one predicted how the second ballot would turn out. Candidates have 20 minutes to make their decision. Where is the story here?

Darren McEwen said...

Bottom line: 15 minutes or 1 minutes notice.

The writing was on the wall. Kennedy people were going to Dion.

How was Ignatieff or Rae going to stop that? They had plenty of time to woo delegates once the ballot was announced and nothing seemed to change. All candidates fought hard but it was math that won -- not some shady deal.

Yappa said...

I just read an interesting analysis of how Dion won...