Hey folks, Mark your convention correspondent here. Finally after weeks of months of preparation and planning, running about and doing the most tedious of odd jobs, finally the big event is here!! I’m not as lucky as some who get to live, eat, breathe and sleep (or not) the convention. Nonetheless, there is still some serious and important business that we've got to attend to. Normally, photocopying, formatting, and generally doing whatever you are told to do is not that big a deal. But add that special sense of urgency that has come with this week, and we're making those copies double time.

One of the great perks of this week is that, all of a sudden, Montreal is flooded with people who are active and enthusiastic about politics, Dion, and the other candidates. Of course we welcome all of these people to Montreal, however, we naturally reserve an especially hearty bonjour for all our fellow Dion supporters. Si vous êtes avec nous, les Dionistas, et vous n`êtes pas montréalais, bienvenue!!!

It's very interesting to talk convention and hear the view from BC, the Maritimes, and Ontario. I would really like to meet someone from the North this week though!!! In my opinion, this is where we find the real value of having a convention.

Plus the convention means a good chance to practice our realpolitik. Stuffing envelopes for delegates, for instance, is particularly enriching. One sheet, two sheets, three sheets, four; button stickers, let's do some more! So it's not quite 99 bottles of beer, but it gets us through the day. But we do get the satisfaction of knowing that delegates, in particular the Dion youth, are going to have a great time in Montreal. And maybe we'll tag along... because all work and no play makes politics a dull game, doesn't it?

So...HAPPY CONVENTION...and if you see someone running to a photocopier, you'll know who it is. And stay tuned for more updates to come.

- Mark


Convention Blog, a Dion intern

Being a Dion Intern

My name is Mark and I'm a Dionista and a youth campaign intern. I’m a second year student at McGill University and a long time Liberal. Despite being interested in politics for a long time, getting into Dion’s corner has been my first real experience in the political ring. And I think our man Stephane is going to walk away with the belt.

When I signed up, I was pretty ignorant to the amount of work that goes into a campaign. But then my second weekend with the team was Super Weekend. Some practically lived at the Dion office before and over the weekend. There was pizza, and it rocked. Since then, its become really clear that the Dion team is quite remarkable. From my perspective, they, rather, we, are one good reason why Dion is going to win this weekend. We rock.

Anyways, its been a good experience being an intern. I've been asked to get groceries, write up random text for this and that, put man on the moon, all the glamorous stuff you see in movies, yeah, we do all that. In between making phone calls and pulling things together for convention, we get to hypothesize the outcome of all our hard work and limitless benevolence and devotion for the Dion cause. There seems to be a general consensus that he is going to win. Go figure!

Working for Dion gives you some serious celebrity status around these parts. I’d say its implied in being an intern for a candidate that you have got to spread the good word, and I’m finding that lots of people know what the scoop with Dion is already. Every now and again you get someone who says, “Who? Celine?” but they are really easy to straighten out. Most of the time, its more like, “That’s cool, he rocks.” So naturally I tell them that, no Dion doesn’t rock. He rocks hard. Then I make sure that they are thoroughly convinced, and tell them to spread the word. If you're one of those who I haven't reached yet, then do some digging: read a paper, listen to the radio or watch the news. Chances are that we've passed on the Dion bug and it is working its way towards you. Don't run, don't hide, we're everywhere.

- Mark


Une bonne lettre...

(dans le devoir, gazette, et star)

La politique symbolique au Canada

Le mot nation englobant plusieurs sens – sociologique, ethnique, étatique – on peut très bien dire que les « Québécois » forment une nation dans un Canada uni. J’appuierai donc la résolution déposée à la Chambre des communes qui fait évidemment référence au sens sociologique du mot nation. Une résolution qui dirait que le « Québec » forme une nation au sein du Canada devrait préciser qu’il s’agit bien du sens sociologique. La résolution proposée à l’aile québécoise de mon parti ne le précisait pas et je ne pouvais donc pas l’appuyer.

Et voici quelques autres résolutions que mon parti ou la Chambre des communes pourraient très bien voter :

« Les Canadiens-Français forment une nation au sein du Canada. »

« Les Acadiens forment une nation au sein du Canada. »

« Les Premières nations formant autant de nations, de même que les
Métis et les Inuits, il y a plusieurs nations au Canada et dans la
province de Québec. »

Et maintenant la résolution suivante : « Le Canada forme une seule et même nation ayant son siège aux Nations unies. »

Je crois surtout qu’il faut cesser d’investir tant d’espoir, ou inversement, de craintes dans ce genre d’exercice sémantique. Il faut apprendre à mieux gérer la politique symbolique au Canada. Une façon de nous y aider serait de convenir ensemble que rien ne justifie la sécession au Canada.

Il appartient aux chefs indépendantistes de démontrer que cette affirmation est fausse. À eux de trouver les raisons graves qui justifieraient de faire une chose aussi radicale que de transformer des concitoyens en étranger dans un pays démocratique.

Et à nous de travailler dans l’unité pour toujours améliorer davantage cette superbe réalisation humaine qu’est le Canada.

Stéphane Dion est député de Saint-Laurent-Cartierville et candidat à la direction du Parti libéral du Canada.

Symbolic politics in Canada

The word nation having different meanings - sociological, ethnic, statehood - one can say that “Quebecers” form a nation within a united Canada. I will therefore support the motion introduced in the House of Commons which obviously refers to the sociological sense of the word nation. A resolution which would say that “Quebec” forms a nation within Canada should specify that it refers to the sociological definition of the word. The resolution put forward at the convention of the Quebec wing of my party did not specify this and thus I did not support it.

Here are a few other resolutions that my party or the House of Commons could adopt:

“French Canadians form a nation within Canada.”

“Acadians form a nation within Canada.”

“First Nations peoples being nations, as are the Métis and the Inuit,
there are many nations in Canada and in the province of Quebec.”

And now the following resolution: “Canada is one nation with its own seat at the United Nations.”

Above all, I believe that we must stop being so hopeful, or fearful, of this type of semantic exercise. We must learn to better manage symbolic politics in Canada. We could help ourselves by all agreeing that nothing justifies secession in Canada.

It is up to the separatists leaders to demonstrate that this statement is false. It is up to them to identify the serious reasons which would justify such a radical gesture in a democratic country: transforming fellow citizens into foreigners.

And it is up to us to work in unity and continually improve the superb human achievement that is Canada.

Stéphane Dion is Member of Parliament for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville and candidate for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.


Everybody Loves Dion

Hey Everyone,

Colin Hebb here...

One week ago today, Stephane Dion arrived in Nova Scotia for a three day tour of our great little province. We were very excited for his arrival and he certainly did not disappoint.

From a great morning with Liberals in Scott Brison's riding on Saturday through to an eventful half day with Sydney-Victoria MP, Mark Eyking, the NS Dion tour was a BIG success from beginning to end.

I was lucky enough to have accompanied Stephane on his tour and was amazed by the positive response from every part of the province. I was also very impressed by the overwhelming number of people that walked up to Stephane in the street and told him they would certainly vote Liberal if he were the leader. I felt like I was walking with a celebrity who had just scored the biggest blockbuster of his career. As we went along, one thing became very clear to me... "Everybody Loves Dion".

I had the opportunity to speak with many delegates here in NS who would likely need a second choice after the first ballot. Each and every person I spoke with indicated that Stephane was certainly a major part of their consideration and in many, many cases... the one.

I am so proud that I will mark my ballot "Stephane Dion" for the leader of this party next weekend. I can honestly say that at no point during this long, long race have I regretted the decision I made back in April. In fact, everytime I hear Stephane speak or read his detailed vision of the future, I become even more convinced that no one deserves to win this more than Stephane Dion. He is the quintessential Liberal and we need him to take back the reigns of power.

He's the one.

That's all from Halifax.. see you in Montreal,

Colin Hebb

PS: Below are some comments that were made by non-members that stopped by to hear Stephane speak... very inspiring:

"Though I have always been a conscientious voter, I have never been inspired enough by anyone to work for their election, but I feel all fired up by Stephane and so much want him to win the nomination and be Canada's P.M. We desperately need someone with his vision and integrity."

"We were both really impressed by Stephane. He seems bright, thoughtful, a good listener, has both vision and a sense of how to achieve it... I hope that he can win the leadership race and then that the Liberals can defeat Harper."


The Finale of "Four-eyed and Fantastic"

And here we are at the last part of our series. We feel like we've learned a lot in this exercise. We learned that Roberta Bondar must have perfect eye-sight. Damn did we want to be able to profile her. Amazing! So yes, we must thus admit that some great leaders don't wear glasses. But let's ignore that and move on to those that do...

Dr. Seuss

Every child's favorite author, Dr. Seuss- "who thought politics were only a bother, and now I can't go any farther..."

You get the picture – he is of course known for his children's stories with surprising depth. Although unknown to many at the time of its publication, "If I ran the Circus", a story where young McGurkus cleans out an empty lot and runs a magnificent circus that everyone enjoys, is in fact a grade 3 interpretation of how successful Dion is going to be. Except there are elephants. We still can't believe the campaign vetoed elephants.

Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin, also known as "Silence Dogood" to those history buffs amongsts us (or anyone who watched the EPIC film "National Treasure" starring the one and only Nicholas Cage! Holy crap, does Nicholas Cage wear glasses...) was a fairly stellar guy. Pro-democracy, pro-feminism, anti-slavery, he is best known for his work to harness the power of electricity. Oh yeah, and he was also President of the United States for a while. Oh yeah, and he also created bifocals! Booyakasha! So considering this accomplished man wore glasses which he created himself, we feel more than justified putting him on the list.

And finally, we move onto the last person in our series, and the man of the hour:


Where to start, where to start... um, national unity? Environmental sustainability? Ethics and accountability? Experience? Respect on the international stage? Gender parity in politics? Youth engagement in politics? Knocking doors with us Liberals during the last three elections? There's too many reasons, so we'll let you decide which is the best.

- Denise and Mark

ps- we're sorry to report that Nicholas Cage, while wearing a lot of sunglasses doesn't seem to sport them of any other type. Damn. We're still including some AMAZING quotes from some AMAZING movies, though.

Nicholas Cage as Cyrus Grissom: Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have the only gun on board. Welcome to Con Air.
Nicholas Cage as Dr. Goodspeed: I'm a chemical SUPERfreak actually, but, I still need a gun.


Part II of our series: Behind the Lenses


And of course there is Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who overcame mediocre eyesight and paralysis to become one of the most well regarded American presidents of all time. Very much a liberal president, his New Deal attempted to create equality for minorities, subsidies for farmers, and social assistance for the poor. He is commonly known as FDR, which really means For the Dion Revolution ;-)

John Lennon

And how about the admired musician, John Lennon? He was the founder and leader of the biggest band in history, (The Beatles of course) and his political activism and philosophical outlook will never be forgotten. While Lennon could never expect Dion to sport the granny glasses, he did once sing that “if you want to start a revolution.... you’d best listen to Stephane....allllright,” and also, “it's been a hard day's night, of climate change negotiation, but now we're feelin' alright, let Dion lead the nation...yeah.” At this point, a mad blogger shout-outs to Beatles Blog for Dion, who rocked the blog community earlier this campaign with much groundbreaking work forming links between awesome bands and awesome leadership candidates.

Louise Arbour

Another glasses-donner that rocks our socks is Chief Justice Arbour. Internationally reknown for her work as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour has had and continues to have an amazing impact on Canadian society. These glasses have spent many an hour review important cases the world over.

Clark Kent

Clark Kent, played by Christopher Reeves- who was an incredible man in his own right- is often credited as being nothing more than the alter-ego for Superman. We here at EchoDion, however, feel that Kent was a hero in his own right. Journalism is the pursuit of perfect information and transparency in a community. It is the backbone of democracy. Kent worked hard whatever the hell that newspaper was called, and for what he lacked in predictability as the result of his whole bird/plane sidejob he more than made up for in passion and eyewear.

While we won't see Stephane being confused with either Kent or Superman, he's already overcome political kryptonite more than once. And he he's got X-Ray vision. Muah muah muah...

Getting bored of this series yet? We aren't! More to come tomorrow =)
- Denise and Mark


Demographics over Ideas? Give credit where credit due

Richard from Manitoba here,

Many a discussion out there in the blogosphere is trying to relate each candidate's qualities to potential electability. I'm glad people are keeping the next election in mind when talking Leadership considering we aren't electing the president of our own pointless social club. Thus far, bloggers and a few pundits have been focusing exclusively on inherent qualities (language and location specifically) as if these were the sole determining factors in an election; there is so much cynicism built into this view. No one can deny that demographics of a leader matter to people; people look for ways to personalize and relate to a leader to the "world" they see and live in. Yet, you can apply the economist model to voting: people are looking to maximize their benefit to their lives. And, I still believe some people are genuinely interested in the common good in this country.

We fail the second two motivations unless we start discussing ideas and visions as vote-moving instruments. Does Stephane's French accent, or Kennedy's hard French, or Dryden's charisma matter to the every day lives of Canadians? no, surely not. Accents don't pay bills or taxes, educate children, bust crime, or clean up the toxic site next to the playground. Governments and politicians exist to make the everyday lives of citizens more manageable, to take advantage of the common good; ideas and programs accomplish this. Put any candidate's personality foibles against two fewer hours spent waiting in an emergency room, or a cheaper bill at the pharmacy, or news of carbon emission reductions; the tangible benefits matter so much more.

If Stephen Harper, cowboy-hatted, leather vest-wearing man of the west can pick up seats in Quebec by promising to fix the fiscal imbalance, then any person with a relevant idea can win anywhere. Even the Liberals have an opportunity in the West with support for the wheat board and ethanol production.

Debating electability without discussing the candidate's planks and their regional impacts is a half hearted and fully arrogant nod to Canadian voters. We dismiss this reality at our own peril. This issue isn't necessarily about any particular candidate, its just a reminder that ideas matter. It just can't be helped that Stephane is a man of ideas.

Great Leaders with Glasses

Today we start a special series here at Dionlineyouth.blogspot chronicling the amazing leadership that occurs when you combine integrity, courage, brilliance and glasses. Today's installment:


The most influential of the lot is Mahatma. Gandhi mobilized huge numbers of people(millions and millions) and lead them forward through a period of great uncertainty. Not only that, he did it with principle and dignity. If Gandhi was around today, we believe he would be down with the Three Pillars approach. Interestingly, both have been dominatant figures in debates on national unity.

Nellie McClung

And who is this stately lady? None other than Nellie McClung. She played a pivotal role in the battle for women’s suffrage in Canada. She saw straight through the rhetoric of the day and with a group of fellow strong women, fought the system and won their right to participate in the democratic process as equals. We're sure Dion’s plan to achieve gender parity in the party and parliament would be easy on these eyes.

Vince Vaughn

Swingers. Old School. Wedding Crashers. Dodgeball. Anchor Man. Starsky and Hutch. That movie with the Rock where he pretended to be a gangsta. Amazing. Just like Dion, he has an absolutely un-toppable resume. The comparison stops there, though. Which is probably for the best.

Our series on awesome-people-who-wear-glasses continues tomorrow with an influential musician, world leader, and superhero. Suggestions always welcome. Especially for the next series we're trying to put together tentatively titled, "Great Leaders who name their pets after United Nations Accords."

- Mark and Denise


Holy great column, Batman

As I scan through my daily LRB newsclippings, some emails stand out more than others. Like the coverage of a confused David Emerson who showed up at the GG's after losing the election and still accidentally got put into cabinet. Or reporting of when PM stood up in the House of Commons to defend the Aboriginal Accord. Or the comment piece below.

Fave line is when he describes SD as
"one who is ready to tear down the walls of cynicism that engulf politics."
Tearing down the walls of cynicism that engulf politics is so hot right now.

- Denise

Don't count out Stéphane Dion

Lawrence Martin, Globe and Mail, November 2, 2006

Stéphane Dion was underrated and he still is and he is likely to remain so all the way up until the election of the new Liberal leader on Dec. 2.

The Montreal academic arrived in Ottawa 10 years ago and quickly rendered the word charisma obsolete. He had the look of a stick of chalk, an altar boy among the bishops, intrinsically mundane.

He became unity minister. With rapier thrusts that repelled separatist blackmail, he earned intellectual credibility. He helped set new rules for secession and became, with John Manley, one of Jean Chrétien's most prized ministers. Paul Martin left him out of cabinet, but he was soon back in by popular demand.

In Ottawa, Mr. Dion gained a reputation. Many will tell you this is the most sincere, completely unpretentious politician they have ever met. They found a purity and directness to his way of thinking and acting that was unique. He didn't the play the game.

But, despite his progress, when they rolled out the candidates for the Liberal leadership, the Dion name drew yawns. It was all the more curious because, when he describes himself as the most qualified candidate in the field, he cannot be faulted for exaggeration.

Mr. Dion has more federal cabinet experience than all the other candidates combined. He has none of the baggage of a Bob Rae or a Michael Ignatieff. His slate, despite being in the cabinet so long, is clean. He is the candidate who best bridges the bitter Martin/Chrétien divide in the Liberal Party. On the major issues of the day, global warming and national unity, he has served as minister in each portfolio.

But the focus turned to others in the race, some who had spent a history outside the Grit family. Knifing his way through steak and mushrooms in an Ottawa restaurant, Mr. Dion points out, without bitterness, how many in the media wrote him off because he was too dull. "You wrote that I'm boring. In fact, I am not."

In fact, aside from his occasionally fractured English, it was about the only fault we could pin on him. No gravitas. But he's been working on it. "You will be surprised," he says, "at how much I am able to inspire people."

He sits in fourth place in a race many see as now tilting toward Mr. Rae. But Mr. Dion is moving. His integrity is selling well in private sessions with delegates. He is profiting as well from the stumbling performances of other candidates, particularly that of Mr. Ignatieff.

Gerard Kennedy was causing some concern in the Dion camp. Many thought he might enter the by-election in London, Ont., thereby vaulting his stature above that of provincial politician. With a victory, he would have had precious momentum for the convention. But no dice. Mr. Kennedy looked success in the face, turned and walked away.

The real plus for Mr. Dion, however, is the ace card about which few are talking. Candidates such as Mr. Kennedy, Scott Brison, Ken Dryden and others are going to be more inclined to support Mr. Dion than others because, if they can't win the leadership themselves, they'd much prefer a candidate from Quebec to do so. A Dion victory would mean it would be an anglophone's turn next time. By supporting Mr. Dion, they look to their own futures. It is especially true in the case of Mr. Kennedy, who had dinner with Mr. Dion recently.

At the convention, Mr. Dion has to dispel remaining doubts that he would be a dud as a campaigner by delivering a howitzer of a speech. With that, with eventual support for a Kennedy bloc, he could well pull an upset -- one that would spell significant change.

Mr. Rae, who is tied to the Chrétien engine of the party, has his strengths, as do the others. But anyone looking for someone to shake up the politics of this country would look first to Mr. Dion. He is different, a breed part.

In the United States, they're hoping to see the entry of a great truth teller, Senator Barack Obama, in the 2008 presidential race. In Canada, we already have one -- one who is ready to tear down the walls of cynicism that engulf politics if the Liberals open the door to him.

Some are part of the problem, others the solution

Ok, enough is enough. I’ve already gone on one politically charged rant in the past 24 hours but Norman Spector and this little Conservative sexist movement that’s developing recently definitely necessitates another. Days after the “honorable” Peter MacKay refers to Belinda Stronach as a dog, Norman Spector kindly informs us that she is, more specifically, a female dog—I believe the exact phrasing was “she’s a bitch.” This coming from the former Chief of Staff of Brian Mulroney and well-known Conservative pundit is, in one word, astonishing. For those that haven’t seen the full statement:

“I think she's a bitch. It's as simple as that. And I think that 90 percent of men would probably say she's a bitch… She is a bitch.” (Norman Spector, Oct. 31, 2006)

Anyone wondering why women are grossly underrepresented in politics need look no further than the Conservative government right now. To the Conservatives, a woman who’s bold enough to have her own opinion and cross the floor is a “dog” and a “bitch.”

If Canada seeks to correct the gender imbalance in parliament we need a Prime Minister with a clear plan to encourage women into politics like Stéphane. In fact, Stéphane has a ten-point plan dedicated entirely to this cause. The full text in English can be found here ou vous pouvez le trouver en français ici. Among many other things, Stéphane has committed to ensure at least one third of the candidates in the next election are female, to create a committee as assurance that we have the best women to run as Liberals across the country, and to guarantee gender parity in appointments to the Senate and to the boards of Crown Corporations. To quote LPCBC President and Dionista Jamie Elmhirst, “I feel like I've been time warped back to the 1950's, but maybe that's just the natural effect of having a Conservative government in power in Ottawa.”