Wednesday, October 17, 2007

House Divided

The Liberals are saying that Canadians tell them they don't want an election. Actually its the Liberals who don't want an election. After all the past few days have been like the rest of Dion's year as leader, Annus Horribilis.

Stephane Dion remained undecided Tuesday whether to bring down the Harper government over its throne speech even as evidence mounted that his Liberal team - particularly in Quebec - is not ready to fight an election.

The Liberal leader lost both his Quebec lieutenant and the director general of the party's Quebec wing just hours before Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled the government's blueprint for the new session of Parliament.

More top Quebec Liberal officials quit party

With a federal election campaign possibly only days away, the federal Liberal party has just lost two of the key people responsible for ensuring it can fight a campaign in Quebec.

On Tuesday, former MP Serge Marcil resigned as the director-general of the party's Quebec wing, saying he has decided to take an attractive job offer in the private sector. While Quebec wing president Robert Fragasso agreed the timing was "very particular," he said Mr. Marcil is leaving the Quebec wing in good shape and there are a number of talented people who can replace him.

However, Mr. Marcil's departure leaves the Quebec wing without a director-general, just as the party is searching for a national director to replace Jamie Carroll, who quit amid controversy over remarks many members of the party's Quebec wing felt treated Quebec francophones as just another ethnic minority.

News of Mr. Marcil's departure came only 24 hours after Hull-Aylmer MP Marcel Proulx handed in his resignation as the Liberals' political lieutenant for Quebec. After MP Denis Coderre, a savvy veteran political organizer turned him down, Mr. Dion reached past his dozen Quebec MPs and into the Senate to name Celine Hervieux-Payette, one of the few caucus members who supported his leadership bid, as his new Quebec lieutenant.

However, her Senate colleague, Liberal party president Marie Poulin, was nowhere to be found on Tuesday.

While her office refused to comment, confirming only she was not going to be present for the reading of the speech from the throne, sources said Ms. Poulin is vacationing in Bermuda.

Ex-Dion adviser is now the Prime Minister's secret weapon

Mark Cameron knows the inner workings of Stéphane Dion's brain, and now he is one of Stephen Harper's most trusted advisers.

In the unique position of having served Mr. Dion and now the Prime Minister, Mr. Cameron recently joked that if the Conservatives lose the next election and the Liberals win, he could just stay in the PMO and no one would notice.

Chrétien's book revives spectre of house divided
Pollster says former prime minister's memoir could undermine Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion could find that his old boss, Jean Chrétien, is more trouble than any Conservative attack ads, according to pollster Nik Nanos.

By reigniting his old feud with Paul Martin, his successor, in his new book, Chrétien could do some serious damage to the Liberals, Nanos says.

"The Liberal brand has been able to effectively weather the image storm outside of Quebec," Nanos said yesterday. "Even with Stéphane Dion's rough ride, the Grits are still very competitive in Ontario and urban Canada. However, if a narrative emerges that the Liberals are a house divided, that would be potentially more damaging than any attack ad on Dion."

Harper vs. Dion: A battle of the bland

A new poll suggests the next federal election won't exactly be a battle of towering personalities.

Both Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Liberal Leader Stephane Dion have a "charisma deficit" among voters, according to the Canadian Press Harris-Decima poll.

The good news for Harper is that while his personality is deemed a weakness by 41% -- among voters of both sexes and almost every age group -- Dion fares even worse.

Half deem Dion's personality as a weakness.

And while 38% consider Harper's personality an asset, just 19% feel that way about Dion.

The natural governing party is a house divided. Which means this is the best time for an election for the Conservatives and NDP.

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