Mr. Dion has a plan

From this week’s print edition: my column is built around an interview with Stéphane Dion. I have spent much of the past four months writing more about Stephen Harper than Boswell did about Johnson, so I was happy for a chance to concentrate on the other guy. An excerpt:

“The Conservatives call it Stéphane Dion’s Permanent Tax On Everything. Dion had detailed replies to every question I put to him. He quoted the chief statistician of Norway and economists like Jack Mintz. The danger, during a campaign, may be that Permanent Tax On Everything fits onto a postcard, whereas the chief statistician of Norway would face a tight squeeze.”

As always, there was stuff in the interview that didn’t make it into the final column. I asked Dion about whether he wants Elizabeth May to take part in televised debates; he said he sure does. But others, especially the Conservatives, oppose that because May’s bottom line is that Dion should be the next prime minister instead of Harper, I said. So you’ll have two party leaders onstage who want the Liberal to be prime minister. “That’s her right in a democracy,” he said. “If Jack Layton reaches the same conclusion, we’re not going to bar him from the debates, are we?”

Ah. But is May’s participation a pre-condition of Dion’s? “No. I want to be there.”

I should note that the interview, like almost every conversation I’ve had with Dion over 13 years, took place in French, so I could be the one struggling with accent and vocabulary challenges. Here’s how it all turned out.