Friday, April 04, 2008

An Open Letter to Stéphane Dion

The Dalai Lama meets Stéphane Dion: Will they shake hands? Mr. Dion is considering... but he has not made a decision. He will discuss it with his caucus.

An open letter to Mr. Stéphane Dion

Prior to the Liberal leadership convention in December 2006, I knew very little about you. However, after you were elected leader I tried to learn more about you and read your book, Straight Talk. I was impressed, both by your sincerity and by your dedication to national unity.

However, in the ensuing months, I’ve become disillusioned by your leadership. There are a myriad of issues on which the Harper government could have been brought down, both on ethical grounds and because of blatantly bad policy. Some of these issues are as follows:

1. The War in Afghanistan: NATO cannot win in Afghanistan militarily. The geography, culture and history of the area make such a victory virtually impossible. The mountainous terrain of the country make it ripe territory for guerrilla warfare, similar to the type of warfare the Viet-Cong used to defeat the Americans thirty-five years ago. Also, historically, foreign powers who have militarily intervened in Afghanistan have met frustration, most recently the Soviets for whom their invasion of Afghanistan played a major role in their political downfall. There is too much loss of innocent lives on both sides. True, there could be a negotiated settlement by talking to local leadership, but Karzai is not one of them, he has incompetence written all over him. The Harper government could have been brought down on their extension of the mission, the war is not popular with Canadians and Harper would have had difficulty going into a general election on this issue.

2. The Mulroney-Schreiber Affair: Harper was apparently friends with both these controversial figures, definitely Mr. Mulroney at least. This affair raises many ethical issues (especially for Harper who campaigned in 2006 on offering ethical government) and thus the Harper government is very vulnerable in this regard. While I must add that, aside from these personal failings, Mr. Mulroney was a much better Prime Minister than Stephen Harper, the ethical issues around the Schreiber Affair and associations with the Harper government are a serious weak-spot for the Harper government.

3. The Cadman Affair: The Harper Conservatives offered a dying man a million dollar insurance policy in order to buy his vote. While it’s not certain if Harper was personally involved (though released tapes do shed light on his probable personal involvement) it is definitely certain that key members of his party were. Whatever little credibility on ethics the Harper government had, it lost over this issue. The Harper government could have been brought down on this issue when it presented its budget, the Cadman affair would have seriously dogged the Harper campaign in a general election. However, you and your party forfeited this opportunity.

4. Immigration Policy: The Liberal Party, because of Mr. Trudeau’s legacy, is the party of immigration, multiculturalism and human rights. However, Mr. Harper is turning the clock back by introducing discrimination and giving too much power to his Immigration Minister in this regard. This is indeed an agenda of the Reform Party and is truly a disgrace. If the Liberals allow this to pass, then the party will suffer irreversible damage for not standing up for the principles of the party and of this country. We live in a global community and will become a laughing-stock for moving backwards on the immigration issue.

So Mr. Dion, stand up for this country and for your party’s principles. Do something before it's too late. Too much water has already passed under the bridge. The Liberal Party’s stance, "that we oppose such and such but will not vote against it," is not selling with the public, neither is the line that the public "is not ready" for an election. You are coming across as a weak leader.

You and your party are not ready for obvious reasons of disorganization and disarray. Chrétien was able to bring the party together and make it a formidable force (even after the party’s devastating defeats in 1984 and 1988). Why can’t you do the same as well? In the end, you will shoulder the blame for the party’s failings because you are the leader.



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