Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pressure's On, Professor Dion

Should he go or should he stay, Liberals need an answer either way

Critics of the Liberal party should begrudgingly appreciate Joe Volpe.

Whether its accepting campaign donations from the children of wealthy pharmaceutical executives, recruiting supporters for his leadership campaign from amongst the ranks of the dead or generally being a douchebag, Vople has given critics of the party ample ammunition.

Today, he's done it again.

The MP for the Ontario riding of Englington-Lawrence, who briefly flirted with being punted during Monday's federal election, today impressed upon the need for Stephane Dion to make a decision about his future with the Liberal party.

"I think the best thing that would happen for the party, and indeed for Mr. Dion, would be if he gives a signal as early as possible," Volpe announced on Sunday.

Should he decide to resign as Liberal leader, Volpe notes that "Dion has earned the right to stay on probably as an interim leader."

As Volpe points out, time is actually of the essence for Dion to make this decision. The Liberal party is due to hold a party convention in Vancouver in May 2009, where Dion will face a leadership review. Should he fail to pass that review -- a prospect more than simply possible, but more likely probable -- the party will need to hold a leadership convention.

If Dion has no intention of remaining aboard as Liberal leader, the party could hold that leadership convention in Vancouver, as opposed to putting one off at a later date.

Considering the expense involved in organizing not just one, but two conventions within a year, Dion's life could become very uncomfortable as a Liberal party member if he forces the party to vote him out as leader at a convention. The financial woes of the Liberal party are no great secret.

Furthermore, for Dion to wait until the convention would be nothing less than undignified -- something that Volpe (himself an expert on dignity) would hate to see.

"Clearly it seems that no one is going to give [Dion] that chance to do that rebuilding," he mused. "I'd like him to go out with some dignity."

Certainly, Dion waiting to be punted from the leadership would be a boon for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party. Not only would it basically ensure nearly two years of largely unopposed government, it would also drain the scant financial resources of the Liberals, making it difficult for them to campaign effectively in a future campaign.

Again, this would make Dion's life as a Liberal rather unpleasant. It could go so far as transforming him into a pariah within the party. Which may be yet another good reason for him to quit rather than wait to be fired.

With his party clearly at the crossroads, the pressure is on for Stephane Dion to make his decision, and make it quickly.

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