September 18, 2007

“We All Can’t Make Miracles”

Jocelyn Coulon’s words are drenched in irony after the unmitigated disaster we witnessed last night in Outremont.

Let’s just say some people were not very happy to see me. I wasn’t very happy to see some people either. It was a chilly return to Liberal circles to say the least.

People expected me to be pleased with what happened. Clearly my secret underground movement to light Stephane Dion on fire must be working. Jokes aside, I was mad tonight. VERY MAD!

The firing squad has already turned inward. As expected Jason Cherniak has blamed the voters. In fact, so has Stephane Dion. Sigh. Will they ever learn you can’t blame the voters?

To Justin Tetreault and others who are blaming Adrienne Lafortune, Ginette Pellerin and Yves Lemire, learn to understand how politics works for more than ten minutes and get back to everyone kthx.

Justin, what did they tell you at the doors about your fearless leader? Could you give these people a pamphlet with a big picture of Dion on it? In all reality, where would it have ended up? The garbage? kthx. But all the unilingual Ontarians would have felt better because they had something to do? Oh well, in that case…sigh.

There was gross incompetence alright. These organizers never had a chance…

There is a general rule that in an election, an organization can make up 5% of the vote. Meaning if the trend in your area is going one way, organization can influence that 5%.

In by-elections, with lower turnout, that number can be a little higher.

No organization on the face of this planet can make up 20% in any given riding. Let’s not mince words here. Coulon got destroyed, creamed, slaughtered, taken to the cleaners.

Nobody could have saved him. Yves Lemire is a good man, but he can’t walk on water…

SO, in other news, the Bloc is weak in Quebec?

WAIT WHAT! Shock and Awe! You mean when you actually press the Bloc into talking about issues they have none?

What’s that? They talk to you about the disrespect of the nation and the fiscal imbalance? Damn. Those arguments stick do they? If only we could take those arguments away, the Bloc would be helpless, forced to debate left-right issues where other parties can be just as useful, and not be eternally in opposition. Oh wait, they can?

Quebec Liberals have been saying this since when? FOREVER? Well let’s not listen to them then. I think we should listen to first-year law students tell veteran Quebec Liberals how to run a campaign instead…ok right.

It wasn’t just francophones who abandoned the Liberal Party in Outremont. All the cultural communities did, the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Philipinos…EVERYONE.

But you know what sucked the MOST? What turned my stomach the most?

Seeing some of my BEST FRIENDS and the looks on their faces returning from the polls.

Dejection, Defeated, Outclassed, Battered, etc.

It is the first time I had seen such long faces like this in a while, since December 2nd 2006 or Jan 23rd 2006. Usually, I’m too sad at the time to realize how deep it goes. Monday I watched as an observer and it nearly killed me. I felt bad. Some of these friends worked their asses off and they had NO CHANCE IN HELL to possibly win this.

What did I learn tonight? I learned that I am damn happy I left the Liberal Party to be an outside observer. Because Liberals in Quebec can scream all they want, but at his rate, if Dion and the Chernamaniaks keep blaming Quebecers for not liking Dion, then they will only sabotage themselves. I learned that I will never have a long face like I had to witness last night. My heart goes out to them. I wish I could make it better. But then again, we all can’t make miracles.


17 Commentaires:

Blogger Alisa a dit...

Ah, i JUST commented on your last post. maybe i should repost it up here ...

By the way, i don't see it as a huge slaughter for Coulon, maybe because my gut has been telling me this riding is perfect NDP territory with the Bloc out of the picture. (I've lived in Outremont for a couple of years.)

9/18/2007 11:59 a.m.  
Blogger Alisa a dit...

Yeah, ok. Reposted from below because it matches this post better:

The NDP put in a really strong effort in Outremont behind a rock solid candidate with a lot of name recognition; I've never seen so much voter outreach from them (admittedly I don't hang out at their campaigns much.) I passed the Mulcair office every day on my way home up Parc Ave. (I live in Mile End.) Even weeks ago, it was busy with energetic-looking volunteers, inside and out. Mulcair has a sign up on virtually every post, tree, and half the balonies in the riding; everyone else's presence is kind of sadsack, with the Conservatives even resorting to adding stickers to their posters to remind people that their candidate represents the governing party, not that that did anything for them. The NDP also put in a concerted effort to get out the vote: I saw a bunch of election-day doorknockers out. Voter turnout was still pretty low (under 40%) but Mulcair managed to really energize his base.

Honestly, this riding is the best chance the NDP has ever had in Quebec. You have Mile End - a young, multiethnic and anglo-skewing neighbourhood that delivered strongly for the NDP the last time around (if the individual polling stations are numbered the same.) Outremont itself was divided between Lapierre and the Bloc candidate in the last election, Cote-des-neiges went more Liberal.

The real story here isn't that the Liberal lost; it's clear that Liberal turnout must have been both low and bleeding over to the NDP, although once the detailed results are up on elections canada it'll be more apparent. The Liberal vote in Outremont has been declining for a while and the last two races were fairly close. With Lapierre as the incumbent, his 40% lead melted away to 35% in the last election; under Coulon Liberal support shrunk to 29%. But the Bloc has gone from 33% to 29% to only 10% of the vote. That's disastrous for the party that used to give Lapierre a run for his money. Either all the Bloc supporters stayed at home or they've migrated to the NDP en masse. Now isn't that interesting?

9/18/2007 12:01 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

alisa with all due respect,

I dont think you saw the whole riding.

While areas like the mile end are ripe NDP territory, the city of Outermont and the Cotedesneiges/snowdon area are traditional liberal bastions.

9/18/2007 12:17 p.m.  
Blogger bigcitylib a dit...

Any analysis to go with that whine?

9/18/2007 1:01 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...

bcl, here is the short version

people at the doors complained about Dion. Justin didnt actually speak to voters so he couldnt tell you.

Campaign literature from Ottawa was a big photo of Dion. It's no wonder the local organizers didnt think it was effective.

Liberals were warned this would happen if Dion was chosen leader. He can go win the coutnry elsewhere, because he definitely will not win in Quebec

9/18/2007 1:43 p.m.  
Blogger leftdog a dit...

bigcitylib - Antonio did provide an 'analysis' and it hits the target dead on!

"Liberals in Quebec can scream all they want, but at his rate, if Dion and the Chernamaniaks keep blaming Quebecers for not liking Dion, then they will only sabotage themselves."

As a NON LIB from the West I can tell you with certainty that the West (Manitoba - Saskatchewan - Alberta - and BC) will NOT embrace Dion. You can keep shooting at the messengers but that will change nothing. The Liberal Party of Canada CANNOT win a General Federal Election with Stephan Dion as Leader. Period. Not going to happen.

Since I am a Dipper (a relevant one), I have thick skin and can take all the bullets that you want to shoot at me, but Antonio is only telling you how the rest of Canada feels about your leader. So here it is from someone who's vote you need to win if you want to form government - you have a humourless, unengaging, rigid, academic, inarticulate leader!

9/18/2007 1:56 p.m.  
Blogger AaronK a dit...

and Jack Layton has a mustache...hope that's enough in the next election.

Seriously, I like Dion. I live in Vancouver. I don't understand the rage against him, but then I'm not as rabidly active in politics as other people are.

9/18/2007 2:29 p.m.  
Blogger bigcitylib a dit...

Antonio, Leftdog,

I got the not liking Dion bit. But this leads to what positive strategy? Name two issues (other than dumping Dion and installing Iggy) that the Libs can employ in Quebec that won't be electoral suicide in the ROC?

9/18/2007 3:09 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous a dit...


How about supporting proportional representation and digging a trench and make sure that the Grits don't get outflanked by the Dippers in urban Montreal?

9/18/2007 3:29 p.m.  
Blogger Antonio a dit...


people hate the guy for reasons he can no longer change.

Either he gives them a new reason for liking him, he tried with the environment (no success) so really there is nothing left he can do.

Go get your seats in Ontario Chretien did that while he rebuilt in Quebec. (Chretien also had no opposition)

The Libs were never close in the two rural ridings that were contested because of a lack of openness on the part of Chretien/Dion

these people are not separatist forever, they just rejected the old Liberal vision

9/18/2007 3:40 p.m.  
Blogger bigcitylib a dit...


You are offering rather similar advice to A. Coyne (although he thinks the libs should continue fighting for Montreal island).

9/18/2007 4:00 p.m.  
Blogger Chuckercanuck a dit...

Gabby in QC reported this on my blog, Antonio:

"According to Lib MP Marlene Jennings this a.m. on a local talk-show, Thomas Mulcair won in Outremont because "little old ladies" were confused. They thought he was "such a nice Liberal" (laugh, giggle). In other words, those who voted for Mulcair are - shall we say - a little dim according to her?"

9/18/2007 9:43 p.m.  
Blogger Pascal Dessureault a dit...

I spent the weekend in Outremont as well as part of the day on Monday. From what I observed in three days, the defeat can be accounted by a bunch of factors:

1. For the first time in a Montréal riding, Liberals were competing with a party - the NDP - that targeted non-French speaking cultural communities in their own language, on their own issues (among those Greek and Portuguese). The Liberals used to be the only ones targeting those communities.
2. Nobody knew in the Liberal campaign what to actually campaign on. The NDP campaigned on Mulcair, understandably. The Conservatives, even though somewhat absent from the radars, campaigned on the fact that they are the governing party. For the Liberals, however, it did not seem clear. Dion’s leadership? Coulon’s relative notoriety? The Liberal trademark? By the end of the campaign, with the flock of Ontarians arriving in the riding, it seems that people were campaigning on Dion’s leadership – which, if I need to say, is not a seller in Quebec. Focusing on the Liberal trademark could have been a better seller in the riding of Outremont.

These are factors that were not outlined by a lot of people so I thought it would be interesting to share them with you. Obviously, as everyone mentioned, there was also a clear lack of cohesion within the organization, as local organizers seemed to not accommodate themselves very well with the outside help. In the end though, Mulcair’s popularity is obviously the deciding factor that allowed the NDP to gain this seat. There are some lessons, however, to be remembered from that experience, since the NDP might want to repeat that in other Montreal ridings.

9/19/2007 8:39 a.m.  
Blogger Cerberus a dit...

"Nobody knew in the Liberal campaign what to actually campaign on."

I think that is it in a big nutshell. That also fits with Antonio's comments.

We see in these by-elections the big question in the next general election, at least the big question for the Liberal Party: why vote Liberal?

The hatred for Dion is old and deep for some. Can't change that. As Antonio said, the next option is to give them a reason to vote for the Liberals and Dion despite old fights and wounds and disagreements over federalism.

To rebuild a party like we need to, to renew, to get voters and donors to come back, you have to give them a reason. Dion, on his own just by being Dion, has never done it. 18% in the leadership race. Party not moving up in national polls. The leader is not charismatic and doesn't present well.

And don't take that as an any kind of attack. All of that could be said of Harper too when he took hold of the Conservatives. But from the first moment, he focused on developing policy. When he asked for people's vote, you knew what you were voting for. To the extent this turned away voters, he responded by modifying and clarifying and putting himself out there more. He defined himself by issues. Took some time but it was his approach. (Obviously Adscam and a Liberal civil war helped)

So there is much to take heart from in this by-election. The Liberal vote actually did not bleed. The Bloc vote plummeted, the Conservatives didn't campaign and the NDP vote soared. Looking at percentages ignores that the vote count in a low turnout vote, didn't change much. So there is still a base.

Also, if the party can see this as a wake up call instead of a time for blame and finger pointing and calls for unity, then we have a real chance at rebuilding.

There is an overly big focus on unity and support for the leader. Wrong. The leader should be rallying us not around him but around his priorities and vision. What are they? How does "Three pillars" translate in help for me and my kids and their education, for example? Slowly slowly emerging and not communicated well enough.

When is the policy convention? Is it even scheduled yet?

I asked Dion in an interview one time what party renewal meant to him. He answered "we renew by winning". That was one of the saddest moments in the leadership campaign for me. So very disappointing that I didn't even post it or use it as a partisan stick.

He didn't get it then. Hopefully, he gets it now.

9/21/2007 9:29 a.m.  
Blogger burlivespipe a dit...

I think Antono went to election night looking to be proved right. He was, but I doubt for all the reasons he thinks. Chretien wasn't loved at first, and it took time for him to step beyond 'Yesterday's Man' slag that the Mulroonieites/NdPers labeled him as... The top of the Liberal party obviously still needs to work on its messaging, but I don't doubt Alisa's version of events, either. Dion is still learning, and all those clamouring for all the policies NOW had best sit a spell. Dion and his point people are meeting and talking with people outside the party, which sounds like a clear indication that policy is being weighed.
YOu don't use your bullets until the gunfight starts. We've gotten a few tastes (afghanistan, income trusts) and I'm eager but patiently waiting. But as expected, this site has only "Blame Dion and those who supported him" 24/7...

9/22/2007 2:51 a.m.  
Blogger Emerys a dit...

We've gotten a few tastes (afghanistan, income trusts) and I'm eager but patiently waiting.

On Afghanistan, Dion has hardly been clear, the NDP and the Cons have been far more effective at finding positions which resonate. On income trusts, the Liberal position just reinforces the perception that the party is bought and sold, its actually one of the only issues where I have more respect for the Conservative position than the Liberal one.

Dion might be an alright guy, I had hoped he would be a good leader for the Liberals, but the party has only become more irrelevant since he has become leader apart from his stands on protecting civil liberties from the anti-terrorism hysteria.

9/24/2007 12:43 a.m.  
Blogger Mark Dowling a dit...

Chuckercanuck said...

Gabby in QC reported this on my blog, Antonio:

"According to Lib MP Marlene Jennings this a.m. on a local talk-show, Thomas Mulcair won in Outremont because "little old ladies" were confused. They thought he was "such a nice Liberal" (laugh, giggle). In other words, those who voted for Mulcair are - shall we say - a little dim according to her?"

Is this for real - is there a transcript of the actual remarks? What if a seniors group leader made a similar observation about people of colour - Ms. Jennings would (rightly) have gone ballistic.

Seniors are one of the few demographics that still extensively turn up to vote and while pandering to them is likely to have undesirable economic effects down the road, insulting them isn't likely to win you seats either.

9/28/2007 12:30 p.m.  

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