October 17, 2008

Letter to St├ęphane Dion, October 17, 2008

Sent October 17, 2008

Dear M. Dion:

I realize you probably won't read this email until after you have made up your mind about your future, but I feel compelled to write it now, in the hope that there is still time to convince you to stay on as the leader of our party.

After hearing your incredibly inspiring speech at the Liberal leadership convention (on TV because I wasn't involved in politics at the time), I became involved with the political nomination campaign of Betsy McGregor in Peterborough Riding. I felt compelled to become involved because I was deeply concerned about the changes that were being made to Canada -- our Canada -- by the Harper government.

Within a matter of weeks, the attack ads were launched on you and the postcard propaganda war began in earnest in Peterborough. I was stunned. This was happening in Canada -- and the initial public and media outcry quickly faded away. Political bullying became our new national sport.

When you came to Peterborough and toured St. Joseph's at Fleming, I had the privilege of being part of the small entourage of local Liberals who were there to welcome you. I saw how warm and sincere you were in all your interactions with everyone that day, including the children and the seniors. I got to witness your sense of humor. And my initial impression, sensed from that first speech on that TV screen, was confirmed: you are in politics for all the right reasons.

When you came back to Peterborough a year later, you spoke at an open town hall meeting at Re* (Jenny Ingram's green health building), you responded to all kinds of questions from the audience. I was fortunate enough to get the last question of the day. I asked you how you managed to hang in there in the face of the unrelenting attack ads that were launched shortly after you became party leader. Your answer was simple and sincere: "I love my country."

You will always be one of my heroes -- a man who made the right choices rather than the easy choices; and who was guided by vision rather than political opportunism. (I feel the same way about Betsy McGregor, who conducted a very fine and honorable campaign in Peterborough Riding -- one that would make you very proud.)

Back to my reason for writing this letter: I would like to encourage you to consider staying on as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada -- assuming, of course, that doing so feels like the right choice for you and your family. There is a great deal of support and admiration for you at the grassroots level of our party and you have proven yourself to be a most worthy and respected leader in all the ways that truly count.

Thank you for sharing your vision, integrity, and your genuine love of Canada and Canadians with this country. I look forward to continuing to follow your outstanding career when the House of Commons resumes later this fall.

In the meantime, I wish you and your family a wonderful, restorative time together.

Best wishes,

Ann Douglas

Copy to follow by mail

cc. Betsy McGregor, Federal Liberal Candidate, Peterborough Riding