Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Stephane Dion's Political Career On the Line Over Throne Speech

Judgement day looms for Dion

Just when one thought things couldn't possibly get any worse for Liberal leader Stephane Dion, they apparently have.

The Quebec wing of the Liberal party has found itself effectively crippled today, as Dion's Quebec lieutenant, Marcel Proulx, and the party's provincial director, Serge Marcil, have both resigned from their posts.

Proulx is believed to have resigned regarding the party's recent disastrous performance during a trio of Quebec byelections, in which the traditional Liberal stronghold in Outrement was razed by the NDP.

Denis Coderre and Pablo Rodriguez were reportedly offered Proulx's job, but have decined.

To top it off, Jamie Carroll, the party's former national director, resigned on 10 October, amidst insistence that the party had defamed him.

To top it all off, Stephane Dion reportedly remains committed to toppling the government over the Throne speech, especially if it contains limits on spending powers and rejects the Kyoto protocol as unattainable.

The Liberal party is simply not prepared to fight an election. However, by failing to defeat the government on its proposed agenda, Dion would risk not only his credibility in the eyes of the environmental movement, but also his alliance with Green Party leader Elizabeth May in their desire to see Peter MacKay defeated in the next election.

In other words, everything Dion has worked for is very much on the line, and under the worst possible circumstances.

To make matters worse, the NDP and Bloc Quebecois have also pledged themselves to vote against the throne speech. Dion's fate is entirely in his own hands, but he simply may not have a viable option before him: defeat the throne speech and lose his leadership, or vote in favour of it and lose his reputation.

On top of all this, his party doesn't want to defeat the government on the throne speech. Many of his MPs have publicly insisted they won't force an election that "Canadians don't want" (it seems they never do when the Liberals will lose). In a pre-throne speech caucus meeting, only 6 of 30 speakers were in favour of defeating the speech.

Down in the polls, down in Quebec, and down on his luck, Stephane Dion simply may not have any options left. In short, Dion has simply met his political nadir, and the Liberal party is facing it right along with him.

Should the Liberals find themselves choosing a new leader within the next year, this throne speech will, one way or the other, likely be viewed as the beginning of the end for Stephane Dion.

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