A purple ribbon to Dion for participating



So Stéphane Dion says he’d like to see fights taken out of hockey. No kidding; it’s right there in the video, about a minute and a half in.

The topic came up during Réjean Tremblay’s segment on last night’s Tout le monde en parle. Oddly enough, Dion didn’t hesitate to chime in on how to ban on-ice fisticuffs, nor was he reluctant to talk about his affinity for Les Canadiens. I don’t know where that puts him on Stephen Harper’s patented ordinary-Canadian-meter, but the Liberal leader’s take on fighting seemed to win over the decidedly extraordinary Alex Kovalev, who was also on the show, as well as Tremblay.

The rest of Dion’s appearance, however, didn’t do much to bolster his profile. Aside from a quick joke about his difficulty speaking English and a well-played translation of a question into English for Kovalev, Dion mostly looked stiff and uncomfortable. When he was given 60 seconds to explain his Green Shift to Quebecers—and, remember, a million and a half of them are watching; the show is HUGE—Dion could barely muster more than a handful of platitudes derived straight from the party’s talking points. When the topic of arts funding came up, Dion had to sit back and watch while Tremblay, a sportswriter, delivered an impassioned defense of putting tax dollars toward unmarketable arts like experimental theatre and low-rent ballet productions. Dion even undermined his attempt to agree with Tremblay with an unfortunate reference to the Liberal party program.

To be fair, Dion was walking into a pretty hostile situation. One of the shows more endearing features is that it serves wine to its guests. This time, however, Manon, the lovely producer who usually introduces the selection, would only say they were tasting a Quebec wine for the first time. After everyone had taken a sip, Dion included, she announced the wine was from a vineyard recently acquired by Alfonso Gagliano. “I’ll stick to water,” Dion replied when he was asked how he liked his drink. And it didn’t get much better from there. The fortune cookie-type cards co-host Dany Turcotte always hands out to guests (and forces them to read aloud) are always biting, but the one he handed Dion was especially so. “Knowing your honesty, which we all salute,” it read, “even you won’t vote for yourself.” Ouch.

After seeing what happened to Michael Ignatieff on the same show, Dion’s handlers may have decided to put the fear of God in him to prevent him from veering off-message. Dion was wound up so tight he looked like a kid who was sitting at grown-ups’ table for the first time in his life. Still, at least he showed up. I would have loved to see Stephen Harper make an appearance on Tout le monde before the end of the campaign. (It’s the nationalist thing to do, non?) But alas, Kory Teneycke probably figured his boss wouldn’t get the jokes.


A purple ribbon to Dion for participating

  1. Philippe,

    1) Dion said: Ban the instigator for the match and if the fight occurs in the third period, suspend him for the next match.

    2) Dion received kind words from Michel Rivard (La culture en péril video/Mr. Beau River), Alex Kovalev (I vote for him!), and Réjean Tremblay, a staunch sovereignist and not just a “sports writer”, but rather a cultural icon. (Lance et compte, anyone? Anyone?) To dismiss Tremblay as some “sports writer” is clearly not knowing who Réjean Tremblay is.

    3) Considering his persona in Québec, Dion performed much better than most people expected him to. He quickly dismissed comments from Dany Turcotte regarding his nationalism and he was not caught off guard once during the interview.

    4) Contrast his performance with Mario Dumont’s or Michael Ignatieff’s… or even Jack Layton’s… And it is clear he had a “solid”, though maybe not “ground breaking” performance.

    Most people might not be “won” over, but many “undecideds” and discouraged Liberals will be.

  2. Christiane Charrette and her two guests this morning (TV reviewers I believe) said he was great, “très naturel”, “relaxe”, “charmant” – I think they may have even said something like “charmant” and “un Dion qu’on n’avait pas vu”, but I was driving and distracted. I saw show and would agre with them, although he shouldn’t have jokily interrupted about how this or that related to platform, although it didn’t seem to bother guests. And having Michel Rivard, hardly unknown for his separatist sympathies, say in effect vote strategically to stop Tories (after, amusingly, saying he wasn’t in favour of strategic voting), not saying who he was going to vote for (don’t know where he lives, but would be usually be Bloc, unless he’s following through on his own non-strategic strategic advice), and praising Dion for his courage and for sharing many of his social & environmental views, is quite a score. Réjean Tremblay, as bluet as they come, & Michel Rivard are good to Dion. Kovalev endorses him 3 times. And Charrette et co. say he was excellent.

    Every critic sees things his own way, but I’d tend to say this went as well as it possibly could for Dion, and far better than anyone expected. I mean, given hosts’ sympathies and the fact this is after all, from their point of view, “Stéphane #$%& Dion”, this was awesome (as a Liberal Dionista myself). But who knows how the millions reacted? We’ll see (Léger numbers encouraging).

  3. I almost feel sorry for Dion and then what happens but today the Ontario Finance minister just, as they say – threw Dion under the bus : Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan is predicting gloomy times ahead for Canada’s most-populous province Mr. Duncan said at a news conference today. Mr. Duncan was sharply critical of federal Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion’s “green shift” plan that would tax carbon emissions to encourage more environmental behaviour and return the revenue in the form of tax cuts.“One of the things that I think that would be a mistake right now is massive shifts in tax burden at a time when there’s uncertainty,” he said.

  4. Philippe, You are the first one I have read who was critical of M. Dion’s appearance. Everybody else I have either read or talked with said he was excellent.

  5. That sounds like a good show, wish we had something like that in ROC. Make your guests tipsy with some wine, try to get them wound up and than see what happens.

  6. Thanks for posting this. In regard to your last sentence, do you think Mr. Harper’s French *is* good enough for him to appear in this kind of on-the-spot setting?

    Also, I wish Alexandre Despatie appeared more often on Albertan tv.

  7. Robin:

    Harper’s French is fine. The issue would be the guests and the environment, which would clearly put Harper in an uncomfortable situation.

  8. Harper’s French is fine.

    No it isn’t. It sucks.

  9. As others have pointed out in the Comments, this is the first generally negative review I have seen of Dion’s appearance on “Tout le monde en parle”. Les Perreaux, in his summary in the Globe and Mail, said it went well all-in-all, and Dion won over people in the end.

    Has the media-pile-on on Dion run its’ course yet? Philippe apparently isn’t quite done.

  10. What’s Lance et compte? Just kidding.

    I don’t think it’s dismissive of Tremblay to suggest his interest (as a sportswriter) in defending arts funding isn’t as immediate as Dion’s. Given this, I would have expected Dion to make a more eloquent case than he did. Tremblay and Rivard weren’t so much agreeing with Dion on the issue as it was Dion agreeing with them. Is it a surprise, then, that they say Dion’s got it right?

    As for Dion’s overall performance, aside from that coma-inducing last guest purporting to speak for people from my generation, was anyone on the show less charming than him?

  11. was anyone on the show less charming than him?

    I don’t know. Were you on it?

    Just kidding…ha ha!

    I’m so sick of this. Some people think Harper’s charming, some (a lot!) think he’s creepy. It’s hardly a matter that elicits objective judgements.

  12. @Philippe:

    Re: “…was anyone on the show less charming than him?”

    Charm, Schmarm.

    It would be nice if people based their vote less on a person’s perceived charm and more on a candidate’s abilities, competence and long-term vision. Then again, Harper got elected in the last election and he has none of the above qualities, including charm.

  13. “was anyone on the show less charming than him”

    Dany Turcotte – talking to Despatie – your best medal is in your Speedo – or something to that effect – frankly, Despatie is not Turcotte’s poupoune…

    I thought Dion was great – made my day, feels good to know there still is at least one political leader in this country who has class and convictions – whether you agree with his convictions or not being besides the point.

  14. “…whether you agree with his convictions or not being besides the point.”

    Not really, at a time of great economic turmoil this guy has an OBSESSION with Canada’s 2% of teh world’s total annual CO2 output. We know Elizabeth May thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread but then again, she’s similarly OBSESSED with Canada’s 2% of the world’s total annual CO2 output.

  15. Obviously you did not watch the show, Jarrid, for if you had you would not claim that Dion was OBSESSED about anything in particular. He discussed the fiture of Canada on many fronts. Seems to me that you are the one OBSESSED with something or another.

  16. Loraine – the centrepiece of the Liberal platform is the Greenshift. It is being put forward by Mr. Dion because he thinks saving the planet from global warming is the seminal issue of the day. That enviromental extremist, who has a similar platform, says Dion would make the best Prime Minister and that she supports him.

    If Elizabeth supports your quest for being Prime Minister, it’s because you’re fanatical enough for her.

  17. Didn’t see the show, can’t link to the clip from this computer, but judging from the comments overall, it sounds like Dion did not have a disaster on this program, which must result in a net benefit to a campaign whose central tendency has been disastrous.

  18. Phillipe,

    It is a bit disingenuous to make comments like that in the absence of any video for anyone to concur. As much as you’d like to convince people otherwise, is there a particular reason why you think that anyone would take your interpretation of events at face value?

    Jarrid, Wayne, et al.,

    Good luck. You’ll need it. I wonder what you guys will be doing when the Ministry of Information is dismantled?


  19. I work for Kory Teneycke? You’d think he would return my calls.

  20. Here’s the Globe and Mail’s Yakabuski’e take on Dion’s performance in today’s Globe:

    “But it might have been possible had it not been for Mr. Dion’s Clarity Act baggage and lack of personal magnetism. On Sunday night, on the otherwise festive Tout le Monde en Parle, he left the studio audience stone cold. It was tragicomic.”

    Austin and the rest of the Liberal shills, take note.

  21. I, for one, would love to see Harper on “tout le monde en parle” ( and toronto-centric peter Mansbridge / CBC should take note – this is wat is meant by creative original programmming). And no his french is not good enough: it’s stiff and without nuance just like Harper ( I swear it seems like he reads from a phonetically typed script).

    And Dion was great- he was not stiff. He actually seemed to be having a good time –

  22. I”ve watched the show fairly often over the years. Many guests, some of them politicians, have come on with far, far worse French than Harper’s. Hell, there’ve been a few unilingual Anglos on it (e.g. Mia Farrow). But they weren’t generally politicians.

    I’d say my own French is about the same as Harper’s, and I know I miss many of the jokes and references on the show, so for that reason alone I can see why he might want to give it a miss.

    To work well on that show you need to be the kind of person who would be willing to dance at a party with a lampshade on your head. In my experience most ordinary Quebeckers would be willing to do that sober. For most Anglos it would take a couple of drinks. I don’t think there’s enough alcohol in the world to get Harper to do that. Dion came across, to me at least, that he could almost, just maybe, be cajoled into putting the lampshade on.

    But in an ideal political world, none of this s**t would matter.

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