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Kennedy drops off and backs Dion

[PoliticsWatch updated 1:15 p.m. December 2, 2006]

OTTAWA  —  The Liberal leadership vote has changed dramatically after Gerard Kennedy has dropped off the ballot by his own choice.  

Moments before the candidates for the third ballot were announced, Kennedy rose from his seat and  headed in the direction of the camp of Stephane Dion camp on the Montreal convention floor. 

Kennedy's move dramatically changes the dynamics on the convention floor. 

Second ballot results

Michael Ignatieff: 1,481 votes, 31.6 per cent 
Bob Rae: 1,132 votes, 24.1 per cent 
Stephane Dion: 974 votes, 20.8  per cent 
Gerard Kennedy: 884 votes, 18.8 per cent 
Ken Dryden: 219 votes, 4.7 per cent

Kennedy and Dion have 1,858 delegates combined, about 400 delegates more than second ballot leader Michael Ignatieff

If most of Kennedy's delegates follow him to Dion, then it would appear that Bob Rae would be the next person to drop off the third ballot, making the final ballot a showdown between Dion and Ignatieff. 

"I am going to do everything I can this round, whatever round to get Mr. Dion in the position of leader of this party," Kennedy told reporters after meeting Dion on the convention floor. 

Dion praised Kennedy's decision. 

"Gerard's reaction is a great one because it is very difficult for him. He ran a great campaign, he and his team," he told reporters. 

"He's a great Canadian. I'm so proud to have Gerard working with me now."

PoliticsWatch's insider on the Kennedy campaign estimated that 90 per cent of Kennedy's supporters will follow him to Dion. 

"It's a pretty loyal crew," the insider said. 

According to the insider, the convention deal between Kennedy and Dion was hatched over a month ago. 

The prospect of Dion becoming the frontrunner after the third ballot has not spooked the Ignatieff camp. 

"Kennedy didn't take all his people (to Dion)," PoliticsWatch's Ignatieff insider said. "He took a respectable percentage but there was bleeding to the other camps."

However, the insider admitted that more of that support is heading towards Rae than Ignatieff. 

"There are some people coming, but it's happening in small groups. A delegate will come and bring a few people with them. A riding association president will show up with five or 10 people. 

He said there is not panic on Team Ignatieff but there was some disappointment with the second ballot number. 

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> PoliticsWatch's convention insiders 

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