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Iggy vs. Dion in final ballot

[PoliticsWatch updated 3:50 p.m. December 2, 2006]

OTTAWA  —  The final ballot at the Liberal leadership convention will pit a veteran cabinet minister against a rookie MP.  

Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion are headed for a showdown after Bob Rae was knocked off after finishing third on the third ballot. 

Third ballot results

Stephane Dion:
1,782 votes, 37.0 per cent 
Michael Ignatieff: 1,660 votes, 34.5 per cent 
Bob Rae: 1,375 votes, 28.5 per cent 

Many had predicted that the final ballot would be between Rae and Ignatieff. 

But Gerard Kennedy's decision to drop off after the second ballot and endorse Dion has sent the former intergovernmental affairs minister to the front of the pack. 

Rae told reporters that he would not endorse one of the two remaining candidates, leaving it up to his 1,375 delegates to make their own choice.

"I told them they were free to vote their conscience and I would do the same," Rae said.

But with a Dion-Ignatieff finale in place a new dynamic has taken over the convention floor. 

PoliticsWatch's Ignatieff insider said there is now what can be characterized as a Stop Dion campaign. 

"Even people who hate Iggy are telling me, 'Better Iggy than Dion. Dion is unelectable,'" the insider told PoliticsWatch.

A former Dryden supporter told our Ignatieff insider that in a showdown between Ignatieff and Dion he is going with Dion. 

Both the Dion and Ignatieff camps are engaged in a mad scramble to snag as many Rae delegates as possible. 

Early on it appears that Dion has the upperhand. 

Five of the 11 original Liberal leadership candidates had moved over to Rae. 

Three of them are now sitting with Dion -- Maurizio Bevilacqua, Hedy Fry, and Ken Dryden

As well, one of Rae's biggest coups was gaining the support of veteran Liberal Ralph Goodale. Goodale is now sporting a lime green Dion scarf. 

"Dion's got it by my feeling," PoliticsWatch's Dion insider reported as final ballot voting came to a close. 

But the Ignatieff campaign insider told PoliticsWatch said it "seems quite split."

Candidates are moving over to Ignatieff, but there are fewer marquee names. 

Scott Brison is the only other leadership candidate to endorse Ignatieff. Also seen in his camp after Rae fell off the ballot were Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman, Toronto MP Judy Sgro, former cabinet minister Tony Valeri and veteran Newfoundland MP Bill Matthews.

CBC News is reporting that former justice minister Martin Cauchon will come to Ignatieff from the Rae camp.  

The Ignatieff machine also sprung to work immediately when the showdown with Dion was revealed. 

Delegates are handing out leaflets showing recent polls that show Ignatieff would do better in a federal election against Prime Minister Stephen Harper than Dion. 

One thing the Ignatieff team failed to calculate properly was scarves. 

"Iggy's people are scavenging their campaign scarves from existing supporters to give to the new people coming over," PoliticsWatch's Ignatieff insider reports. 

:  Related Links

> PoliticsWatch's convention insiders 

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