Stéphane Dion

Stéphane Dion

] Tory environment minister John Baird responded by blaming the Liberals for what he described as a "shameful record over 13 years of inaction on the environment," while Stephen Harper said that his government would "stabilize emissions."cite news|url= |work=CBC |title=Climate report predicts major consequences for Canada |author=CBC News |date=February 2, 2007 |accessdate=2007-02-04] Dion's non-binding motion passed on February 5.cite news|url= |work=CBC |title=House motion passes supporting Kyoto |author=CBC News |date=February 5, 2007 |accessdate=2007-02-05]

On February 27, Dion's Liberals, together with Bloc Québécois and NDP members of Parliament, voted down a Harper government proposal to extend two controversial provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act for another three years. Dion argued that the measures – which allowed police to arrest and detain terror suspects for three days without a warrant and which allowed judges to force witnesses to testify in terror cases – "have done nothing to fight against terrorism" and "have not been helpful and have continued to create some risk for civil liberties."cite news|url= |work=CBC |title=MPs vote against extending anti-terrorism measures |author=CBC News |date=February 27, 2007 |accessdate=2007-02-27]

On April 12, 2007, Dion announced that the Liberals would not run a candidate against Green Party leader Elizabeth May in the Nova Scotia riding of Central Nova (currently represented by Conservative Peter MacKay) in return for the Green Party leader's agreement not to run a Green candidate in Dion's riding of Saint-Laurent—Cartierville. [ cite news |author=CBC News |title=Liberals agree not to run candidate against Green leader |url= |date=April 12, 2007 ] The deal was criticized by the Conservatives and the NDP (Jack Layton had rejected earlier attempts by May to cut a "backroom" deal with his partycite news|url= |work=NDP |title=Jack Layton on the Liberal – Green deal |author=NDP |date=April 13, 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-13] cite news|url= |work=CTV |title=May says Layton has refused to talk with Greens |author=CTV news staff |date=April 15, 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-15] ), and also by some within the Liberal Party.cite news|url= | |title=Courageous or disastrous? Liberals mixed about Dion's pact with May |author=Canadian Press |date=April 13, 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-13] Dion later gave reassurance that the controversial deal was "an exceptional circumstance where Liberal voters are invited to help her [May] to win against Peter MacKay."cite news|url= |work=Vancouver Province |title=No more favours for Greens, says Libs' Dion |last=Bailey |first=Ian |date=April 15, 2007 |accessdate=2007-04-15]

On November 8, 2007, Dion released a policy plan, that he compared to the United Kingdom's Labour Party under former Prime Minister Tony Blair. Dion mentioned that his party will tackle poverty in Canada in order to create a "greener", "richer" and "fairer" Canada. He set up targets to reduce general poverty by 30 percent and child poverty by 50 percent as well as helping working families with work rewards as well as increasing the Canada Child Tax benefit, increasing guaranteed revenues for seniors. [ cite news|author=Canwest News Services |title=Dion vows to reduce poverty|publisher=The Ottawa Citizen |url=|date=November 9, 2007] In an editorial in the "National Post", economist Alex MacMillan notes that the poverty targets Dion has set are based on a Statistics Canada measure that the statistical agency has stated is not a poverty measure (LICO), and that by using what is in effect a relative income measure rather than an absolute poverty measure, Dion is essentially aiming to flatten the income distribution of Canadians. [ Dion's misuse of poverty stats] , Alex MacMillan, National Post, 22 January 2008, URL accessed 27 January 2008] However, there is no official poverty rate for Canada that Dion could otherwise use, and some other political parties also quote LICO figures as poverty rates. []

Green Shift

In 2008, as part of a measure for cutting greenhouse emissions, Dion called for a carbon price but did not called it a tax. He also praised a similar measure introduced and approved by the British Columbia government in the 2008 provincial budget as well as the province of Quebec that introduced a carbon-based tax which revenues will be used for green technologies. cite news|author=CTV|title=Dion calls for a price on carbon, but not a tax ||url=, date = March 14, 2008] Critics from other parties as well as some Liberal MPs said that the concept would be "too confusing, expensive and politically risky".David Suzuki who added on CTV's Question Period that: "To oppose the carbon tax plan, it's just nonsense. It's certainly the way we got to go". cite news|author=CTV|title=Suzuki slams NDP, Tories, backs Dion's carbon tax||url=|date=May 18, 2008]

In June 2008, Dion unveiled the new policy called "The Green Shift" ("le Tournant vert") and explained that this tax shift would create an ecotax on carbon while reducing personal and corporate income taxes. He stated that the taxation on carbon would generate up to $15 billion per year in revenues to offset the reduction in income tax revenue.

The plan was immediately criticized by Stephen Harper, who labelled it as "crazy" and said it would "screw" Canadians while making a comparison with the National Energy Program adopted in the 1980s.cite news|author=CTV|title=PM: Liberal carbon plan will 'screw' Canadians||url=|date=June 20, 2008] cite news|author=CTV|title=Carbon tax about Canada's future: Dion||url=|date=June 21, 2008]

Dion rejected this criticism and challenged Harper to an "adult" debate on the proposal. While there were mixed reviews about the plan, Green Shift Inc., a Toronto-based consulting firm, filed an $8.5 million lawsuit against the Liberal Party on July 9, 2008 citing trademark infringement. The company also sought a court injunction against the Liberal Party to stop using the name. Dion responded that the lawsuit was "deplorable" and added that the Liberals are not a commercial company and did not see any legal problems for using the term "Green Shift". [ cite news||title=Dion calls 'Green Shift' lawsuit 'deplorable'||url=|date=July 10, 2008]

Internal discord

The first federal by-elections contested by the Liberals under Dion's leadership took place on September 18, 2007 in three Quebec ridings: Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, Outremont and Saint-Hyacinthe—Bagot. The party's candidates were defeated by large margins in all three races. The Outremont by-election was deemed a crucial test for Dion's leadership by some pundits, as it had been held by the Liberals almost uninterruptedly since 1935.cite news|url= |work=Globe & Mail |title=Outremont by-election a test for Dion |last=Campbell |first=Clark, Daniel Leblanc |date=September 15, 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-20] Others said it was a "poor measure of where the parties really stand." [cite news |title=Not the final verdict on Dion |publisher=Globe and Mail |date=September 19, 2007] Dion's handpicked candidate Jocelyn Coulon was defeated by the NDP's Thomas Mulcair. A Dion aide blamed the Outremont by-election on several factors, including poor organization, lack of communications, and lack of a clear policy on Quebec, while former MP Jean Lapierre suggested that it was due to Dion's 14% approval rating in the province. [] In addition, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald reported that unidentified "Dion loyalists" were accusing Michael Ignatieff supporters of undermining by-election efforts. Though Ignatieff phoned up Dion to deny the allegations, the "Globe and Mail" suggested that the report had a negative impact on the Liberals' morale, citing the NDP's widening lead after the article's release. [] [] [] Undaunted, Dion declared: "From this defeat, we can learn something and work together as a united party.."cite news|url= |work=CBC |title=Liberals shut out in Quebec byelections |author=CBC News |date=September 17, 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-17]

On September 23, 2007, Liberal Party national director Jamie Carroll sparked controversy when, during discussions about whether francophone Quebecers should be hired in order to appeal to francophone voters, he commented: "Do we also have to hire people from the Chinese community to represent the Chinese community?" Carroll argued that the comment was taken out of context, but it nevertheless raised the hackles of many Liberals in Quebec, prompting calls from MPs Pablo Rodriguez and Liza Frulla for Carroll to be fired. Stéphane Dion affirmed Carroll's version of events and rejected calls for Carroll's dismissal.cite news|url= |work=CBC |title=Dion rejects calls for removal of party's director |author=CBC news |date=September 28, 2007 |accessdate=2007-10-03] On October 10, a Liberal press release announced Carroll's resignation and commended him for his "loyalty to our leader and to our party".cite news|url= |work=CTV |title=Carroll resigns as Liberal party's national director |author=CTV news |date=October 10, 2007 |accessdate=2007-10-12]

Marcel Proulx resigned as Dion's Quebec lieutenant hours before the Harper government's throne speech, taking the fall for the three by-election losses. Dion first approached Montreal MPs Denis Coderre and Pablo Rodriguez to succeed Proulx, but they declined. That evening he named Senator Céline Hervieux-Payette to the vacant post. [] While the Party was divided on whether or not the government should be toppled on a confidence vote regarding the Throne Speech, Dion mentioned in a statement in the House of Commons on October 17 that the Liberals will support the Throne Speech but with major amendments including the Kyoto Protocol and the end of mission in Afghanistan by 2009 and had criticized the government on several aspects including the economy, seniors and child poverty, the crime policy, the Senate reform. The latter amendment proposal was rejected by the New Democratic Party who are favouring an immediate end to the mission. Dion explained the decision as that the Canadians are not willing to have a third election in just over three years. cite news|url=|title=Harper gives Dion another election challenge|author=CTV News|date=October 17, 2007|accessdate=2007-10-17] . All Liberal members abstained from voting on the Throne Speech on October 24, 2007 which passed 126–79. [cite news|author=CTV News|title=Throne speech passes, Liberals abstain from voting|publisher=CTV|url=|date=October 24, 2007 ]

Marc Garneau initially stated that he was not part of Dion's vision after being passed over for a riding nomination. Since then, Dion and Garneau have reconciled, and Garneau will run to succeed outgoing longtime MP Lucienne Robillard in Westmount-Ville-Marie. [] []

The Liberal Party won three of four by-elections held on March 17, 2008, as Dion's former leadership rivals Bob Rae and Martha Hall Findlay won convincing victories in Toronto Centre and Willowdale and Joyce Murray was narrowly returned for Vancouver Quadra. The Conservatives won a fourth contest in the northern Saskatchewan riding of Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, which the Liberals had narrowly taken in the previous election. Dion declared the results a victory for his party, while also noting that some Liberal support was siphoned off to the Green Party. [cite news|url=|title=Dion declares victory after by-election wins|author=Zosia Bielski|date=March 18, 2007|accessdate=2008-03-18] . Some journalists described the outcome as a mixed result for both the Liberal Party and Dion's leadership. [cite news|url=|title=Liberals win in Toronto, B.C., lose in Sask.|author=Gloria Galloway|date=March 18, 2007|accessdate=2008-03-18] [cite news|url=|title=Mixed byelection results prolong Liberal angst over election timing|author=Joan Bryden|date=March 18, 2007|accessdate=2008-03-18]


*Dion's family has a husky named "Kyoto" which they purchased "to cheer themselves up after the Liberals lost the last [2006] election." [cite news |url= |work=National Post |format=reprint |title=Dion positions himself as potential kingmaker |first=Philip |last=Authier |date=November 26, 2006 |accessdate=2006-12-04] However, Dion was not the first environment minister or Liberal to have a dog by that name. David Anderson also has a schnauzer named Kyoto which he purchased one week after Canada's ratification of the Kyoto Accord. [cite news |url= |work=Canada News |format=reprint |title=Dion not first Liberal to call his dog Kyoto |first= |last= |date=February 1, 2007 |accessdate=2007-02-02]

*In May 1999, Dion was the object of a pie-in-the-face gag orchestrated by the Montreal group, "les Entartistes". The group's stated focus is to "deflate" influential political figures, and they have successfully pied several Canadian federal and provincial politicians, with past targets including Jean Chrétien and Ralph Klein. Dion was not amused and pressed charges, resulting in convictions of assault against two members of the pie-throwing group. [cite news |url= |author=CBC News | |title=Pie throwers tossed suspended sentences |date=November 10, 2000 |accessdate=2006-12-04] They were given suspended sentences.

*Dion holds dual citizenship through his mother, who was born in France.cite news|url= |format= |work= |title=Stéphane Dion says he'll keep dual citizenship | news staff|authorlink=CTV Television Network|date=December 5, 2006|accessdate=2006-12-05] Other MPs holding dual citizenship include Conservative Minister of Health Tony Clement, Conservative MP Myron Thompson, and NDP caucus members Libby Davies and Olivia Chow.

ee also

* Canadian federal election, 2008

Notes and references

External links

* [ Stéphane Dion's Campaign Site]
* [ How'd They Vote?: Stéphane Dion's voting history and quotes]
* [ List of federal political experience from the Library of Parliament]
* [ Stéphane Dion Interview]

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