(P)olitical analysts and some grassroots Liberals complained that (Dion) waited too long to appoint a candidate for the September by-election in the Montreal riding of Outremont. His dithering, some said, cost the Liberals a safe seat.Now, that might be an interesting theory if the Cons had been the ones to improve their standing in Outremont - though even that would presumably speak to Lib failures in ensuring an accurate public perception of the Cons.
He blames everyone but himself for the loss to the NDP. First, he said, there is the perception the Harper Tories have given a lot of money to the province.
“I don't think Quebec has received that much from Mr. Harper,” Mr. Dion said. “It's the perception … the sense that he was open to Quebec and that this openness was not only fancy constitutional stuff but concrete delivery.”
But then there are the actual results in the riding. And the reality is that the Cons' much-ballyhooed candidate dropped 4 points from the party's already-weak position in Outremont. Which means that Dion's first excuse - that improved public perception of the Cons caused Mulcair's win - is demonstrably wrong based on the actual Outremont results.
Mind you, Dion has one more excuse in his arsenal. And while it's perhaps a little tougher to outright disprove empirically, it speaks volumes about the Dion's state of mind (and perhaps that of his party as well):
As well, he said that many Quebeckers believed that the NDP candidate, Thomas Mulcair, a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister, was a federal Liberal.I'm not sure how one can even pretend to believe the Libs' loss can be traced in any way to confusion about which candidate ran for which party. After all, virtually all media coverage of the byelection campaign focused explicitly on the NDP's effort to challenge the Libs' traditional dominance in the riding, including by having its entire federal caucus campaign for Mulcair. Meanwhile, there was also plenty of controversy surrounding the Libs' candidate appointment process and internal disputes. And I don't recall anybody being shy about highlighting the party affiliations involved.
Yet somehow Dion seems to think that through all that, Outremont's voters somehow didn't know who was running for which party - and if they had, they would never have voted against the Libs.
Which in turn may signal something more as well: a belief on Dion's part that the "Liberal" brand is itself invincible, such that he doesn't have to do more than remind voters who's in his party in order to romp to victory. But that belief would appear to be even more flawed than the Outremont excuses. And if Dion really figures he can count on his party's name to carry him while the NDP catches up to the Libs in the present, then there may be all the more reason to think the Libs are headed for the dustbin of history.