Monday, December 04, 2006

The Guys in Back

Who really lost the Liberal leadership race? Well, seven candidates aside, the big loser might be the party machine itself. Not the Liberal Party of Canada, which will probably do just fine under Stephane Dion's leadership, and might even fair well in Quebec. What is in quite a bit of trouble is the much vaunted Liberal backroom. The largest old boy's network in Canadian politics backed a selection of the wrong horses, and they're about to find themselves in a fair bit of trouble.

I think there's a good argument to be made that this is exactly what the party voted for. By making a surprise hit out of the party insider with the least inside connections, they sent a clear enough message--what they want is political experience without the baggage of political machinery.

Dion has already moved to oppose the backroom, however gently, by appointing a couple of friend of his to run his transition rather than the usual party cronies. None of this is to say, of course, that one can change the party's institutional culture overnight, But this bodes well for its future suggesting it will be rather less committed to consuming itself from within.

That is, of course, if the camps surrounding Ignatieff and Rae don't harden and remain in place, pending another leadership race. This would turn Dion into a weak leader indeed.

Here's an interesting reason to think I'm wrong. CP has a great little story about the deal Dion and Kennedy cut, the deal Ignatieff and Rae couldn't bring off, and the incident that gave Dion his extra two votes on the first ballot. It suggests that some kind of deal making will be alive and well for the foreseeable future. And who the hell thought Martha Hall-Findley would be the spoiler?
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