I wasn't sure how I felt about this, but after some consideration, I gotta tell ya, I think the Liberals made a mistake.
The "anyone-but-Ignatieff" campaign got out of hand, I think, and Dion was the beneficiary. Ignatieff had a pretty solid base of suporters, so he wasn't going to get bumped off the ballot until very late. That left the others to fight for who would face him in the final ballot. When Gerrard Kennedy went to Dion, he sealed Bob Rae's fate. Kennedy had a very strong support base, and some 90% of them followed him to Dion. That put Dion over the top and allowed him to force Rae off the ballot. Once that happened, it was only a matter of whether he would beat out Ignatieff on the final ballot. Even then, the final vote was roughly 45% vs 55% - not exactly convincing.
I think Dion owes Kennedy a huge thank you.
But, truth be told, I'm not sure the system worked for the Liberals. When candidates are forced off the ballot, we get to find out who people's second choice is. Problem is, Ignatieff was never forced off, so who knows who Liberals would have chosen had he not been involved?
Let me demonstrate. See, until the last ballot, the votes were always split between several candidates. This doesn't allow you to see who the overall best choice is. Now, if it were more like Heisman Trophy voting (where you vote for your first, second and third choices, each getting points), you might have seen a different outcome.
Put it this way: who would Liberals have chosen head-to-head? Obviously, head-to-head, they would have chosen Dion over Ignatieff. But what if you put Dion head-to-head against Rae? Or Kennedy? We'll never know because while those candidates were on the ballot, a great deal of Liberal delegates were still supporting Ignatieff. We never did get to find out who Ignatieff's supporters' second choice was.
Clear as mud?
But it isn't just the voting system that I think will hurt the Liberals. I hadn't heard Dion talk before Saturday. Although I had heard his name, he wasn't exactly getting a ton of press. This is not a good sign. He wasn't on people's lips. When I did hear the guy talk, I was blown away. How could this guy possibly be a threat? His English is atrocious.
Later in the evening, Jean Chretien addressed the convention. I had been wondering why it was that I objected to Dion's crappy English when Chretien's was similarly impaired (and yet I kinda liked him). Here's the thing: Chretien has personality, and in the immortal words of Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction, "personality goes a long way." Chretien is passionate, straightforward, and bold. Dion is none of these things.
Now add the fact that he is unpopular amongst average Quebecers. Now add the fact that the mere fact he is a Quebecer will kill him in the west. So, if this francophone is going to have trouble not only in the west, but in Quebec as well, what the f**k was the point in choosing him?
Did I mention that, of the main candiates, Dion is the only one who can be linked to the sponsorship scandal days? So much for turning the page.
Dion may yet win. But right now, I'd be voting for the Liberals in order to get Harper out, not because Dion is inspiring.
...and if I hear the word "underestimate" one more time...