Man of the year: It was easy to make this priority -

Man of the year: It was easy to make this priority


Dan Arnold over at Calgary Grit comes up with his Person of the Year and, following his self-imposed rule-of-thumb that it’s best to avoid the incumbent Prime Minister because that’s always too obvious a choice, comes up with Stéphane Dion. This sounds right. Maxime Bernier was another fellow who looked bewildered while things happened to him, but not for as long nor with stakes as high. Few provincial premiers had a sustained national profile. Jack Layton never changes. Justin Trudeau’s role is to be forever nominated, to get the hopes of Trudeauphiliacs alive and to boil the blood of Trudeauphobes. For the moment Michael Ignatieff looks like Buster Keaton in the old movie when the house collapses around him, wondering wha hoppened.

But it was Dion who spent the greatest amount of time executing swan dives into empty pools this year. Fun question: what on Earth would Stephen Harper have found to run against, if Dion hadn’t come up with the Green Shift? Then there was the whole coalition micro-mania, which from its inception to its dénouement (note to coalition bloggers: there was a dénouement. You can go home now) was inextricably bound up in competing interpretations of the Liberal leader’s legitimacy.

I won’t belabour any of this much further. I admire Stéphane Dion’s decade of public service. I thought making him Liberal leader would be high-risk but with a potential for high reward, so on balance he was my candidate in 2006. The reward never showed up, and from what I have been able to gather Dion still doesn’t begin to understand that it could have worked better if he had, at any early moment, given his head a shake. It’s a sad story. It’s over now. Its arc defined 2008, much more than anything Michael Ignatieff or Stephen Harper actually did.

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Man of the year: It was easy to make this priority

  1. With the coalition stunt that hastened his over-due retirement as Liberal leader, he has clearly surpassed Joe Clark as the most politically clueless Canadian leader in modern times. Henceforth, it is probably unfair to compare Joe to Stéphane. Stéphane’s in his own category now.

    • This is actualy an interesting point. I'm not sure I consider Dion to be clueless. He did not have leadership skills, but that doesn't make him clueless. I don't think that there was much Dion could do to improve his situation, including giving his head a shake. I think he just didn't have the skills needed to be a party leader.

  2. It also introduced English Canada to the notion that imperfect command of, and halting performance in, an official language can be considered a legitimate grounds for dismissing a candidate.

    • Ha! Well said.
      It’s no fun cringing when you’re listening to your PM. And when you’re bilingual, it’s twice the fun. Sigh

  3. I think that Stephane Dion is a good person who fell victim first to an unprecedented smear campaign by the crew of our most undignified government ever and then perhaps to his own belief in his ideas and vision.

    I know this seems like a tangent – but will the Conservatives be called on their tacticts if and when they start a pre-writ ad campaign to butcher the image of Mr. Ignatieff? Is theirs the new standard for Canadian politics as usual? I am a high school teacher – in a student cabinet – if any student tried to butcher the image of another – they would face serious consequences. In a workplace if someone mounted a campaign for months trying to attack the credentials of another – they would be seen as an antisoical sociopath.

    Why then did the Canadian people allow Harper to run on and win on their campaign of a mean character assassination of a decent man who risked his credibility as a Quebec intellectual by standing up for Canada.

    Let the Conservatives run on their record (I know that it is hard to find right now what with the summer recess, the premature election and the proroguation (sp?)

    Enough is enough with this government that originally ran on the premise that they would be “propre”. They have turned out to be the meanest and dirtiest that I can remember.

    • I think you’re right. That does seem like a tangent.

    • Sorry – nice teacher with my typos, punctuation errors and using “they” instead of he or she. Can I blame it on Christmas vacation brain?

  4. Bridget, sorry but the requirement for responsibilities of one’s own actions ended when ‘Mr Dithers’ was ushered out. The current era is the spawn of Gordon Gecko’s ‘greed is good’ dictum, where ethics and ethos have been supplanted by angst and anger with self-interest as the sole compass.
    Our current so-called leader has set a high standard in it. I’m sure your students, upon finding out that compassion and empathy and honest discourse are so 1990s, will appreciate the firm handshake and ‘don’t worry, they did it too’ send-off…

  5. I for one am going to seriously miss Dion as he turned out to be the best friend us CPC’ers ever had but the moment has passed and his footnote in canadian history will be sealed with puffin poo and now we have a decent battle as Iggy is a much stronger opponent. But comparing Dion with Joe who isn’t fair to Joe at all after all Joe made it to the big tent … wasn’t long but at least he had the cojones to actually do something and not just be placeholder while the Lib’s decide who to sacrifice next.

  6. With more Republicans and Democrats coming out in favor of a revenue neutral carbon tax and a proposal for this to be debated in the House, there is still some chance the US will implement their own Green Shift. If so, Harper is going to look ridiculous for calling the idea insane and Dion will look a lot more on the ball and economically savvy than Harper. Of course, people who understand carbon pricing already know this and don’t need the US to confirm it — but the perception of the masses could change.

  7. I think that Dion is a good, decent man, one who’s achievements are such that we should all be grateful for them. His lackings, too, are a long list: media savvy, political horse-sense, etc., etc. I personally look forward to what he does next, either as an MP or as a private citizen.

  8. a lot of Canadians I do not have a savings, so things do not seem to affect me. Im a senior and get along as best I can. Housing would be a great asset for seniors and NO credit cards!!!!!!

  9. Dion was certainly nightmare of the year for 2008. Even as a die-hard Liberal-hater, I am honestly relieved to see Ignatieff in now, even if he was annointed King by the High Chancellory of the Liberal demi-Gods. So sure, Dion is “man” of the year. Now let’s forget he ever existed, and quickly.

    [Yes I said “man” of the year. You didn’t expect me to use the progressively-correct term did you?]

    • Edgy.

  10. Dion would have been the worst disaster that could have befallen Canada. I would have seriously considered moving away from Canada.

    • Well, we dodged a bullet there. The market for bowler hats would never have recovered.

      • Snap

      • Personally, I’d have found it hard to recover without a thriving market for bowlers. ;-)

  11. Paul – not quite sure when this ‘ denouement’ has supposed to have occured? Only a day or two since past wasn’t Ignatieff threatening Harper with it? It surprised me actually. The libs would be insane to use the coalition for anything, other then as a constant reminder to SH that he can die too – politically of course. However, i’m seriously worried that Ignatieff may be reverting to the sort of judgement that gave us a Quebec as a Nation. Good lord, if you were seriously considering to use the thing [ coalition] wouldn’t you at least try and sell the idea outside of Ottawa?

  12. I thought the political bloggers at Macleans just loved horse races. So, I wondered how you could have possibly missed this one (especially if you still read GPC press releases)

    The Chronicle-Herald: May our top newsmaker

    The leader of the federal Green party, who won a spot in the leaders
    debates but no seats in the October election, was selected by editors
    and readers of The Chronicle Herald as the newsmaker of the year.

    The runner-up, an unaccustomed position for a horse that won 14 of 15
    harness races in 2008, was Nova Scotia-owned pacer Somebeachsomewhere.

    On a beach somewhere, Ben Johnson is envious.

  13. Really too bad Dion is gone. He was the best friend the Conservatives ever had.

  14. Sorry, I don’t agree that Dion=Disaster. I think he’s bright, personable and intelligent. So his command of English is not perfect. I know lots of native English speakers who speak less well than he does. Certainly his English is much better than Diefenbaker’s French, but did we complain? Not nearly as much. Also, the Canadian Geographic magazine had a good article on the subject of the carbon tax in Norway (where it is effective and not a cause for huge public whining as in Canada); the article appeared a few weeks before the election…but not soon enough for the illiterati to pick it up…if they ever do read. I think the man (and he IS a man, with far more courage and integrity than most politicians) has been done a great disservice. I voted for him although my local preference was NDP; but I knew Jack Harris would get in and will do a great job, so I gave my vote to Dion…without apology. I think most of the commentators on this subject need to look at themselves a little more objectively…they might find that they have not attained perfection themselves, so what is this all about? Have we elected something better? Puh-leez!!!

  15. The irony of Dion’s leadership is that he was right and Harper knew it, which is why he had to be taken out. History will judge Dion more kindly than the knowitalls of today, who have already forgotten about the state of the planet and how fast the environment is deteriorating. Dion wanted to boost the Canadian economy through the sale of green technology to third world countries, and as Paul Martin’s environment minister, had already learned what was needed by them while preparing to host the UN Conference on the Environment in Montreal.
    Dion’s biggest mistake was thinking Canadians were smart and would listen to reason when it was presented to them. His biggest problems were communicating in English and the Liberal Party itself, which failed to champion its honest leader beyond compare–on the heels of Gomery, what could have possessed them?–and his inspiring vision. Against Harper and his daffy crew, Dion should have been a shoe-in, but it turned out there were plenty of Liberal orangoutangs as well.
    Did Canadians get the government we deserve with Harper? There’s room for doubt on that one, but you can be dang sure the Liberals did.

  16. It is telling when the perception of a great politician is how smooth he can lie, make political moves and play the game of politics of personal destruction. Truly disgusting when principles, integrity, honesty and character in a politician are demeaned, ignored and twisted by hebetudinous, deprived, void of decency wanna be human beings who use every dirty trick in the book to gain power for their personal use. Plus the social engineering that the media engage in, either by being bought off or because they are as deprived as the politicians. Bunch of hyena’s binge feeding at the expense of real stories, at the expense of truth and decency.

    But I believe in karma and what goes around comes around. Pass the popcorn cause some in 2009 are due to get their karma.

  17. Much better than that sop to Paul Martin in the Star claiming him as the Person of the Year!!! What a load that was!