Canada’s Liberal Party has chosen its new leader almost a year after its electoral debacle that saw its majority disappear from the Adscam scandal. Instead of selecting front-running moderate Michael Ignatieff, Liberals chose the more liberal Stephane Dion to lead them into the next elections:
Stephane Dion has won the Liberal leadership in an upset win over Michael Ignatieff, who had been the front runner coming into this convention.
The final battle between the two former professors was not decided until the fourth ballot.
Mr. Dion had surged into the lead on the third ballot and went on from there, winning a clear majority of 54.7 per cent of the final vote.
Mr. Dion was the only candidate from Quebec. He now becomes the third party leader in a row from the province.
The BBC had more on the background of the candidates. Ignatieff ran into some problems because of his initial support of the war in Iraq, which may have kneecapped him with all but the centrists in the party. Dion, formerly the Environment Minister, ran on a green platform which will insist on full compliance with the Kyoto accords.
We can expect a more leftward turn for the Grits from Dion, which may give the party some problems in the next elections. They seem to have ceded the center a little bit with Dion. They may have strengthened their hold in Quebec, where Conservatives and Stephen Harper had so much success earlier. The G&M points out that this could also be a liability elsewhere, especially since Dion does not speak English fluently and might alienate other parts of Canada.
Michael Stickings has much more at The Reaction. Stickings, an excellent writer for liberal causes, is a member of Canada’s Liberal party and gives his perspective as a Dion supporter. Interestingly, he sees the Quebecker as a potential liability in his home province:
Which is good for the Liberal Party and good for Canada, I think, particularly if his team heading into the next election includes Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy, and Ken Dryden, who finished fifth. Dion is not without his problems — he’s not terribly popular in his home province of Quebec given his strident anti-sovereigntist views, and he’s not exactly the most charismatic of politicians — but he should do well.
Read the whole thing, of course, and keep an eye on Michael’s posts for well-written analysis of Canadian politics from the other side of the spectrum.
UPDATE: AAAAUGH! Why did I call the Liberals Labour? I’m seriously in need of the first cup of java. Sorry — and thanks to Dave Rywall in the comments.