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October 17, 2008

My Letter to Stéphane Dion -- and Why I Wrote It

Yesterday, I wrote a letter to Stéphane Dion. It was a letter of gratitude and encouragement. It was also my way of dealing with what, for me, has been a terribly painful election outcome: an election in which political manipulation triumped over truth and integrity. What does that say about our country and our values, circa 2008? That's the question I've been pondering at both the local and the national level for the past three days.

I'm posting my letter for you to read in the hope that sharing my perspective on this sensitive, principled, visionary leader will help other Canadians to understand what a terrible injustice has been done to him -- and how our country has been diminished as a result.

Think back to the excitement that accompanied his election as Liberal Party Leader -- and how, almost instantly -- Harper and his rove-ing band of political thugs felt the need to launch a preemptive strike against Dion -- right at the get go. You don't take that kind of approach with an ordinary political adversary. You save it for someone you view as an extraordinary threat. Someone who is offering Canadians a bold new vision of what is possible. (CBC RealMedia file | Time: 17:41) Someone who threatens your own political ambitions.

If Dion tenders his resignation on Monday, as many are indicating he will do, I will hold the Prime Minister of Canada personally responsible for the sequence of events that led to that decision -- namely, for authorizing a 22-month-long attack ad campaign designed to destroy a man's political career and to turn him into a national joke. I'm talking about personal defamation and political bullying or, to borrow one of the Prime Minister's favorite phrases, misappropriation of personality. The attacks didn't stop there, of course. Anonymous Liberal Party insiders and -- in recent days -- would-be furniture-movers piled on as well: party politics at its most ugly and most vicious.

If Dion resigns, it will be to the detriment of every Canadian: a political possibility lost. We will never know what kind of Prime Minister Dion might have made or what kind of Canada we might have had if his vision of a greener, fairer, and more economically sustainable Canada had been realized.

I am only one citizen, but I am hoping that other Canadian citizens will finally hold their Prime Minister accountable for what was allowed to happen in our country to a truly decent man and visionary politician like Stéphane Dion. A true leader would accept responsibility for his actions and offer a sincere apology to the leader who has been wronged. If Harper is not willing to do that, some may start saying that Harper is not a leader.

Susan Riley, Dion deserved better, Ottawa Citizen.
Far and Wide: Outside the Beltway: Roundup of blog posts and detailed discussion about why Dion should not be pushed out as party leader.

Hon. Stephane Dion with Betsy McGregor
Photo: Stéphane Dion with Betsy McGregor,
Federal Liberal Candidate, Peterborough Riding
(2008 election).


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Hi Ann...I thought it was very nice of you to write that letter to Dion. Because whatever people think about his leadership abilities nobody can deny that he is a decent man who has been treated HORRIBLY. The Con campaign of denigration against him which seems to have been going on forever is the WORST thing I have ever seen in Canadian politics.
And I'll say one other thing...if the Liberal Party goes to the right, and that old Con hack manley becomes its leader I will never even consider voting for them again....

Thank you very much for your comment, Lara. I can only speak to my own experiences with Dion (detailed in the letter linked to above and during his visits to Peterborough, which I detailed on this blog at the time). I found him to be warm, genuine and inspiring. I have been less impressed with certain individuals within the Liberal Party who seem to value partisanship above decency.

This isn't unique to the Liberal party, of course. Might I present Stephen Harper as the ultimate nightmare example of Partisan Politicians Gone Wild?

Hello everyone, I must say right off the top that it seems as though Mr. Dion was set to fail from the very start. I live and work in Ottawa and I can tell you that, shortly after I moved here I began spending time with new friend who previously worked as a Dion Advisor in Montreal during the leadership race in 2006. Shortly after, she went to work, along with other Dion insiders, and was told that her services were long longer required and that she no longer had a job.
As a matter of fact, shortly after, Dion was whisked past her without even having the opportunity to stop and talk to her.
Hmmm, it seems as though the current Liberal Party isn't quite what it used to be..... in the Glory Days of Lester B Pearson etc...

Mound of Sound: I became a Liberal because I was inspired by Stéphane Dion. Before that, I had never belonged to a party in my life. I'm naturally far more "left" than Liberal.

If the natural modus operandi is to ask people to chose between doing the right thing (treating a person with respect) and doing the quick, easy, and dirty thing, to me the choice is easy: I'll do the right thing. Then I'll let my party membership expire and go back to being an indie voter once again. That way, I won't have to compromise my values or behave despicably for partisan reasons. I hope this isn't how things work, but, if it is, that's how I'll have to respond.

Beijing: I lost a lot of my faith in democracy while working on Betsy's nomination campaign. I witnessed the extent to which people behind the scenes can attempt to sabotage other candidates; and how media coverage of rumor vs. fact can impact on a race. It was a terribly depressing time -- particularly since our newly elected MP was simultaneously sending out all kinds of taxpayer funded partisan propaganda.

The post-election behavior has, indeed, has been vicious. In our riding, there have been attempts to smear Betsy McGregor (the Federal Liberal Candidate). There was even a Letter to the Editor published in The Peterborough Examiner making nasty comments about Peter Adams, a highly popular former Liberal MP. He actually had to come out of retirement to defend his reputation on TV last night. Similarly, the Peterborough Examiner published his Letter to the Editor correcting factual errors made in the earlier letter which had been highly critical about his record on veterans' pensions (while singing the praises of the contributions of our current MP).

So I echo your comment: What is wrong with people?

I also wrote Ann and I'm amazed by how horrible his own party has been with respect to supporting and promoting Mr. Dion. I thought the election was one of the most depressing and manipulative events I have ever seen in Canadian history. The results were not as bad as I expected from the outset but still troubling. I was bitter. The aftermath has just further embittered me. What is wrong with people?

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