Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Jamie Carroll Controversy Takes Acrimonous Twist

Carroll to be sacrificed to power struggle?

That black rain cloud that has been following Stephane Dion around lately has apparently elected to throw yet another lightning bolt his way, as Pierre-Luc Bellerose, the Liberal candidate for Joliette has elected to leave the Liberal party in response to “poor leadership”, and over the Jamie Carroll controversy.

Carroll, who is reportedly imminently to be fired, provoked a good deal of controversy in past months when he publicly complained about Stephane Dion’s leadership opponents continuing to campaign against him in secret.

In Against the Current, Carroll is reported to have lived “in fear of an all-out drive against Dion” by his leadership opponents. “What they do in public doesn't bother me. It's the shit they do behind the scenes -- which I may not know they're doing -- that keeps me up at night,” Carroll reportedly said.

Numerous Liberals, including Michael Ignatieff and Denis Coderre, called for Caroll’s firing.

They saw their stated desires come closer to fruition recently as Carroll was accused of making anti-Quebec comments in a meeting.

Caroll reportedly responded to complaints about the lack of Quebeckers in Dion’s entourage by noting that “if Dion hired more Quebeckers, he’d have to hire more Chinese.”

Many Liberals have since added their voices to those demanding Dion sack Carroll, including Pablo Rodriguez and Robert Fragasso, who informed Liberal party president Marie Poulin that he would be demanding Carroll’s resignation.

"I called party headquarters to tell them we can't tolerate that in this party," Rodriguez announced. "I don't see how Mr. Carroll could remain in his role with comments like that."

Ironically, despite the alleged anti-Quebec nature of Carroll’s comments, many Quebeckers have asked Dion to keep him as the party director, leading to Bellerose’s resignation. For his part, Dion insists Carroll's comments were misinterpreted.

Predictably, the Conservatives have also moved to make political hay out of this internal Liberal party feud. “Carroll made some really bizarre, eye-raising remarks. Apparently Liberals themselves find them, at best, distasteful," said Conservative parliamentary secretary Jason Kenney. “He seems to be insulting two different groups at the same time, showing terribly bad judgment. This doesn't reflect well on Stephane Dion, who should hold this guy accountable."

Yet, this is one time the Conservatives would actually be better served to keep their mouths shut.

After all, for a party that has publicly prided itself on not acquiescing to special interests, criticizing Jamie Carroll for refusing to give into special interests comes across as hypocritical. Regardless of whether or not Carroll’s comments can be considered offensive to Quebeckers or Chinese-Canadians, Carroll’s refuting of special interests should actually be viewed as an encouraging sign.

Yet, in the meantime, the controversy poses quite the quandry for Dion's leadership. "At some point, you can't be too self-absorbed. You have to think of the whole party and I think that Mr. Dion better leave," Bellerose insisted.

No matter what decision Dion makes, he stands to lose. The power struggle within the Liberal party is clearly becoming a good deal more acrimonious, and when political parties become embroiled in such struggles, the leader stands to lose most.

In the meantime, Stephane Dion may want to invest in a good umbrella.

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