Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
OPINION Liberals choose to play it safe
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 6 Dec 2006, p. 6

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Stéphane Dion managed to pull a rabbit out of his hat with his somewhat surprising win in the race for the leadership of the federal Liberal party this past weekend. The question remains, can he pull off the same trick twice? To many observers Dion's victory was a shocking result when, in hindsight, it should have been easily predicted. If nothing else, the Liberal party likes to play it safe and Dion offered the safest choice. Michael Ignatieff? Too untested and too mistakeprone. Bob Rae? Too much bad history with Ontario voters. Gerard Kennedy? Too unpalatable to Quebec Liberals. That left Dion-- a firm believer in red Liberalism and green environmentalism-- the choice for both the Liberal old guard and its newer members. While Dion may have been the "right" choice for the Liberals, that doesn't necessarily mean he is the best choice to unseat Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Dion may be the new man at the helm of the Grit machine but he carries some old Liberal baggage-- baggage the Tories will undoubtedly bring out in an election race. Dion served in cabinet under former PMs Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin, who left their posts with the stench of scandals still hanging in the air. As Environment Minister, Dion tended to talk a better game than he delivered and the fact many senior Quebec Liberal party organizers threw their support behind Ignatieff-- and not Dion-- on the final ballot says something about Dion's appeal to Quebec voters. By most accounts Dion is considered a principled "nice guy", but despite his endearing qualities, western Canadians may have had their fill of Quebec prime ministers, especially another whose English often is something less than fluent. The Conservatives vow they will not underestimate Dion, but there are many who feel that Stephen Harper, and not Dion, was the biggest winner Saturday in Montreal.

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6 Dec 2006
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Dion, Stéphane ; Harper, Stephen
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OPINION Liberals choose to play it safe