It was a cliffhanger, for a political junkie anyway, Wednesday, November 29 until Saturday December 2, 2006 and on Saturday from 9 am until 6:45 pm it was nonstop excitement.
Before Friday's first ballot voting were the speeches, which let the people hear what the leadership candidates believed in, more or less. The speakers were also interesting to watch.
The first speaker, Martha Hall Findlay, struck me as the best speaker of them all. She spoke in measured terms, touching briefly on why half of our society's population could only muster one candidate, how the party needed to be cleaned up, and of course the anti-Conservative cant. Her delivery was excellent.
Scott Brison, Joe Volpe, Gerard Kennedy delivered good speeches, standard, but Ken Dryden went close to a quiet rant.
Stéphane Dion gave a speech focused on global environmental concerns, on upholding Kyoto. Great speech — leaving out, however, that he was Environment Minister in former PM Paul Martin's government and a minister in former PM Jean Chrétien's government; neither had good environmental records.
Bob Rae delivered a good speech, the only one without a podium and relying on notes. His speech was superbly crafted and well received.
And finally, Michael Ignatieff, who spoke smiling, out of context, starting a repetitive chant, with his trained seals repeating the chants. Bad speech, bad delivery.
The first ballot saw Ignatieff lead, followed by Rae, Dion, and Kennedy a mere .1% behind him. Hall Findlay was last and thus dropped from the slate, taking her support to Dion.
Saturday morning's second ballot, had Ignatieff still first, Rae second, Dion third and Kennedy fourth. Dryden was fifth, dropped and released his supporters, not going to anyone himself. Kennedy also dropped out and took his support to Dion.
The third ballot saw Dion take the lead with Ignatieff second and Rae dropping out. The quest for Rae supporters became a do or die proposition. Rae himself didn't align himself with anyone, — so much for being roommates with Ignatieff at university. The Dion signs changed from Liberal red to enviro-green.
The final ballot was dragged out to create a state of tension. The result, which the broadcasters were already hinting at, was Dion at 54.74% against Ignatieff at 45.25% of the total.
Previous prime ministers took the stage and anointed the winner (Martin) and cheered the crowd (Chrétien). Throughout the day it became clear that Dion was a disciple of Chrétien, having been recruited into politics on the suggestion of Aline Chrétien ten years ago because of his non-separatist stance.
Between the two political sides of the Liberal party, left and centre, with the odd step into the right the standard bearers have been Chrétien to the left and Martin to the centre. Both have been under the aegis of the Power Corporation, started by Maurice Strong, carried forth by the Desmarais brood. Chrétien's offspring is married into the Desmarais family whereas Martin was mentored in his corporate manoeuvres, taking over Canada Steamship Lines, by Strong. Bob Rae's brother John is a vice president of Power Corporation. The spats between Martin and Chrétien seem like a family battle between two brothers: whoever wins, Power wins.
Power Corp has been a strong promoter of trade with Red China, currently building a $350 billion train system through Tibet. That probably explained some of Chrétien's comments ridiculing Prime Minister's Steven Harper's difficulty contacting the Red Chinese President Hu Jintao at the conference in Vietnam. Chrétien was proud of the times he has visited Red China. Trade between Red China and Canada is so in favour of China that it has contributed to unemployment in Canada.
It is now understood that Dion has dual citizenship with France, because his mother is French. He has no intention of giving up his double citizenship. Nor will he likely improve his English. While the Liberal party looked for the second coming of Trudeau they ended with someone that sounds like Chrétien, without the sense of humour.
Dion wins Liberal leadership (4)