In its Friday endorsement of Harper, the Globe ranks Dion behind Layton in altenatives to be dispensed with, a cruel blow:
Mr. Dion is a decent man of great integrity and tremendous courage, most evident in his years as minister of intergovernmental affairs under Jean Chrétien. But a leader he is not.
Globe bigfoot Jeffrey Simpson echoes the sentiment:
Early in this campaign, conversations with senior Liberals were not about if Mr. Dion would be replaced after the election, but when and how and by whom. The premise that he would be replaced was uncontested.
And with reason. Not only was Mr. Dion not connecting with Canadians, he had not connected with his own party. The people who knew him best, or at least worked closely with him, were in despair or alienated by his stubbornness, refusal to listen and lack of basic team-building skills.
This slight upward tick in the Liberals' polling results has now produced an amended media narrative that somehow the Liberal campaign has "turned things around." Funny that, because all these polls the media use to frame their coverage have the Liberal Party still below the share of the popular vote (30 per cent) it captured in losing the last election.
The post-Dion conversations are still continuing, albeit somewhat less frequently, as Liberals await the final verdict of the people. But if the party gets less than it did in 2006, Mr. Dion will be hard pressed to hold his job, in large part because so many caucus members, staffers and others don't think very highly of him, including his lack of "empathy."
The Liberals hit rock bottom under Mr. Dion, depths the party had never reached in its worst days.
This will make Dion only the second Liberal leader not to become PM, the other being Edward Blake (1880-87).
Early bets on Dion's successor?
Iggy has been loyal and has fought the good fight. He no longer is seen as an opportunistic interloper freshly returned from Harvard. He hasn't been able to keep his supporters entirely in check, though. A new generation of young Ontarians doesn't recall the disastrous Rae premiership. Rae is a skilled parliamentarian who began in federal politics, helping bring down Joe Clark's brief government. He would have demolished Harper in the debates, as he drove Jacques Parizeau from power as a mere CBC commentator who was first to draw attention to the odium of Parizeau's sour-grapes contempt for "the ethnic vote" on the harrowing night of the 1995 referendum. Much depends on Peggy Nash, the rookie MP for Parkdale-High Park. If she can hold off a challenge from Gerrard Kennedy, who represented the district at Queen's Park, it's a two-man race. Plus, not good, it was Kennedy's support by which Dion gained a failed leadership.
Globe sage Doug Bell's money is on Nash:
In its most recent political column examining the ongoing Iggy-Bob phenomenon, Toronto Life has the Liberal in that riding, Gerrard Kennedy, winning it and potentially jousting with Frank McKenna should the Libs grow tired of their leadership frontrunners. (Leave aside that the former Ontario cabinet minister and Dion kingmaker is still $400,000 down from his last leadership run.)
The Liberals believe that if the Dippers' national numbers swoon, Kennedy's home and dry. But my guess is that those numbers aren't going to change and that Nash is going to thump the Libs' great white hope. And if that's the case, I'm thinking it's the harbinger for a historic night in Dipper land.
Stephane Dion, federal Liberal leader (2006-09)