Sometimes those who follow politics too closely forget the simple truth that in the mind of the average voter all Liberals are the same. When adscam hit, we all took it. There were no good Liberals and bad Liberals. The public was not willing to make a distinction between this one and that one. We were all Liberals. The punishment was collective. In Quebec, it has been particularly severe and we are still suffering from the aftershocks.
There are some (a small minority) that never accepted the will of the party when we democratically elected Stephane Dion as our leader. Rather than convince others by the force of their ideas, they are the kind that prefers to hiss and boo those with whom they disagree. And they prefer to speak about leadership for the same reason Harper likes to speak about leadership; it is easier than formulating a real argument, an argument that they could lose.
The leak to the media this week about a private conversation with Jamie Carroll was absolutely shameful. In addition, it was bad politics. To the average voter we are all Liberals. The complaint is ostensibly about Dion, but the average voter hears: Liberals are backstabbing snakes who are only looking out for their own personal interests; they care more about their own egos than the environment or the economy or pulling our troops out of that suckers game in Afghanistan; Liberals can’t be trusted; if a crisis struck the country they wouldn't be able to cope with it because they are so divided; they only want my vote to increase their own self-importance.
The Liberals have had at best a tenuous relationship with Quebeckers for more than a generation now. Publicly attacking the leader will ensure that voters even in the “safe” seats of Montreal will start to seriously consider a new permanent home. To be honest, it has crossed my mind. Those who pretend they are trying to save the party from Dion, if they were to succeed, would find themselves with very little left to save. They will not succeed.
On the positive side, I think that the haters have overplayed their hand this week. Let the backlash begin…