DION WINS: Puts Harper on notice
[PoliticsWatch updated 6:30 p.m. December 2, 2006]
|Newly elected Liberal Leader Stephane Dion.
Former intergovernmental affairs minister Stephane Dion came from
behind on Saturday to pull off an upset win at the Liberal
Dion defeated Michael Ignatieff on the fourth and final
ballot ending one of the most exciting days in recent federal
Fourth ballot results
Stephane Dion: 2,521 votes, 54.7 per cent
Michael Ignatieff: 2,084 votes, 45.3 per cent
Dion's victory was stunning and an upset over the two perceived
front runners -- Ignatieff and former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
It comes with a big assist from Gerard Kennedy, whose decision to drop off after the second
ballot and endorse Dion sent the former intergovernmental
affairs minister to the front of the pack ahead of Ignatieff.
A senior source within the Kennedy camp told PoliticsWatch Saturday
that the plan for Kennedy to move to Dion if Dion was ahead on the
second ballot had been agreed upon over a month ago.
Rae fell off on the next ballot and most of his supporters quickly
moved over to the Dion camp, including several former cabinet
ministers and all but one of the other Liberal leadership
"The most exciting race in the history of our party is over. Let's get ready for the election," Dion told delegates at Montreal's Palais des Congres.
Dion, a former environment minister in the Martin government, said
that the Liberals must champion the issue of sustainable development
in the upcoming election the same way they promised to improve the
economy in the 1993 federal election campaign that elected Jean
"This race made us stronger," Dion said of the marathon
And there was a warning to Canada's current prime minister.
"Stephen Harper, we are counting the days until the next election."
Dion is 51 years old and spent most of his adult life as an
He was recruited to federal politics by Chretien shortly after the
1995 Quebec referendum.
Dion served as Chretien's intergovernmental affairs minister and is
considered the father of the Clarity Act.
Surprisingly, the man who is now leader of the Liberal party was
almost forced out of his seat by party officials less than three
When Paul Martin won the leadership of the party in 2003, Dion was
one of many Chretien cabinet ministers who lost their jobs in
To add insult to injury,Martin organizers were also considering a
bid to challenge Dion's nomination in his Montreal riding. Dion
fought back and held onto to his seat.
Having been a cabinet minister during his entire time in Ottawa,
Dion was one of the former Chretien cabinet ministers who really
looked lost without his entourage and limo driver.
But Dion was willing to run again even if he knew he probably would
be a backbencher.
Dion returned to cabinet after the 2004 election largely because of
his efforts to help out with the national campaign when it began to
He then served out two years as environment minister.
After Martin resigned as leader after January's election defeat to
the Tories, Dion's name first surfaced as a potential contender for
the Liberal leadership race in a blog entry by National Post
columnist Andrew Coyne just one day after the
When word got out that Dion was interested in running for leader,
many in Ottawa did not take it too seriously.
When Dion left the final Liberal cabinet meeting under the Martin
government in February, Press Gallery reporters were staking out
potential contenders, such as Belinda Stronach or Scott
PoliticsWatch was the only Press Gallery outlet to scrum with Dion
about a potential leadership bid on a stairwell while the pack
waited down the hall for Belinda and company to come out.
When asked what he thought about the number of high profile columnists who are floating his name as a future leader, Dion
coyly told PoliticsWatch, "They do their job, I do mine."
When Dion supporters started to formally float the idea to the
press, it again wasn't taken as a serious campaign.
"Even Stephane Dion will be in the Liberal
leadership race," read a headline in Le Devoir.
However, after a string a debates and by mid-summer, Dion's campaign
had been steady and gained momentum. He was considered to be
one of the four major players in the race.
Dion's caucus support was limited during the campaign, with Montreal
MP Marlene Jennings being the biggest name from caucus
Now all Liberals are backing Dion.
Not bad for a man who was practically told to take a hike in
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