So the Liberals picked the pencil-neck geek with the bad hair, and his acceptance speech wasn’t very good TV. Still, he’s kind of appealing, he’s real smart, and he knows how the system works. That cynical old lizard Chrétien gave a darn good speech, I thought. Harper, Dion, Layton, Duceppe; there are lots of countries whose citizens are looking at worse choices.



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From: Daniel Haran (Dec 03 2006, at 07:08)

I believe we're looking at a Liberal minority government, with Layton's NDP holding the balance of power. Canadian politics haven't looked so interesting or hopeful in a very long time.

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From: Dave Rooney (Dec 03 2006, at 07:44)

Hi Tim,

The Liberal Party has a tradition going back to Laurier that has them alternating between English and French leaders. Since Paul Martin was the last leader, anyone with an anglo surname was doomed in this convention regardless of their French language skills. I do respect Stephane Dion, but I doubt he will ever be prime minister and be able to have the impact on this country that perhaps he could. Regardless of his intellect and passion for this country, he doesn't have what I've heard described as the "royal jelly" to be able to win an election.

Of course, I could also be extremely cynical and jaded with our political process. I voted for the Green Party candidate in the last federal election. It wasn't because I adhere to that party's policies, but it was because of the local candidate's reaction during an all-party debate on the radio. The Conservative, Liberal and NDP candidates all sounded like they had their respective leaders' hand up their rear-ends making their mouth move. "Say hello to the nice people!" Didn't even see their lips move. Anyway, they were spouting the traditional party lines. When it came to the Green candidate, she was literally speechless with disgust, saying that she was so tired of the same old pre-packaged drivel. She nailed exactly how I was feeling, and thus won my vote.

FWIW, I support the traditional Liberal beliefs in social justice combined with fiscal prudence. However, the current party system is, IMO, broken. Regardless of the party you're from, as an MP you must toe the party line or risk being cast into the wilderness of independence. Mr. Harper promised open, accountable government, but within a day or two of the election had hosed that concept. Mr. Martin before him said the same words, but didn't do a bloody thing. We won't even talk about Chretien and Mulroney.

Yes, what we have is much, much better than in many other places. However, people are becoming less and less interested and engaged in politics in Canada. For the first time since I was a teenager in the early 80's, I honestly didn't give a crap about the leadership convention. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

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From: J. King (Dec 03 2006, at 09:04)

Dave:

I never got the impression that the alternating tradition was at play in this convention; that Dion had a relatively weak showing on the first ballot is pretty good indication of this. I expect Dion won the leadership because he was considered a better leader than Ignatieff; I don't think we need to entertain reasoning any more complex than that.

While I agree that he doesn't really have the fighting spirit that is desirable in a leader, I don't think Ignatieff has that either, and Iggy spent much time trying to defend stupid things he said during the campaign, suggesting to me that his leadership deficiencies are much more serious than Dion's. Saying stupid things is Harper's job; the Liberal leadership should be very careful to let him have it all to himself.

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From: Paul Marsh (Dec 04 2006, at 15:14)

Take the total votes of about 4000 and then accept that there are four major contendors. If the bottom two of those contendors join forces, they should be able to take out the top two that remain independents. So it was Gerrard Kennedy and his coterie that "choose" the liberal leader, cause if he had gone to either of the other two camps, then they would have won.

It's a good thing, too, as Kennedy and Dion are going to be a breath of fresh air. You could see this during Rae's speech where he publically patronized the big red liberal machinery of the old guard. If you looked at Dion's face as he walked up to and received the congratulatory hand of Cretin, you could see the whole story of the new regime and it's independence from the old.

Ingatief just never did anything for me. Mostly, I suspose it was his lack of sexy smart girl image and how he conveyed silver spoon RLB that bespoke a complete lack of common touch.

I think that the team of Dion and Kennedy is the first good thing that the Liberal Party of Canada has to offer to liberalism in a long long time. I look forward to the NDP, GREEN and now LIBERAL debates about implementing environmental polices as a issue for electability.

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From: J. King (Dec 04 2006, at 21:02)

Actually there were 4600+ votes on the fourth ballot (4800+ on the third). Also consider that, of the four major contenders, the bottom two you speak of managed only be top one of the other two candidates, not the both of them combined. Now, of course since third place was automatically eliminated on the third ballot, this -was- enough to give Dion a real fighting chance. However, technically speaking it was the delegates theretofore loyal to Rae that gave Dion the numbers he needed in the last ballot.

Who gave the final push, though is largely irrelevant. The important thing to come out of the convention is, to me, the impression that the defeated have been graceful in their defeat, and most (though not all) prominent Liberals seem to be at least giving an outward appearance of solidarity even if they don't all feel it.

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From: M. T. MacPhee (Dec 06 2006, at 08:22)

I find it interesting that all the political parties - and we saw the federal Liberals and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives at work last weekend - all the political parties deem it necessary to use a "last place drops off" system in lieu of a "first past the post" system which we civilians are stuck with. Very interesting indeed. But not forgivable.

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From: Ryan Cousineau (Dec 07 2006, at 13:04)

From: M. T. MacPhee (Dec 06 2006, at 08:22)

I find it interesting that all the political parties - and we saw the federal Liberals and the Alberta Progressive Conservatives at work last weekend - all the political parties deem it necessary to use a "last place drops off" system in lieu of a "first past the post" system which we civilians are stuck with. Very interesting indeed. But not forgivable.

MT: The difference is that the political parties also are directly electing their party leaders, while in Canada you have to go all the way down to the civic level to find a directly-elected executive branch. I would be very careful before describing this as a bug rather than a feature.

Also, there were 4000-5000 voting delegates, and party organization is heavily focused on building an in-party consensus. I'm not sure that's as perfect a solution for electing members of government as it is within a party structure.

The comparisons get much more complicated and are entirely debate-worthy, and indeed entire Poli-Sci careers revolve around the relative merits, but your symmetry is imperfect.

Of course, in my dark bomb-throwing moments, I figure we should go for a weighted lottery electoral system:

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Weighted_20Lottery_20Voting?op=aye

But I'm like that.

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