If there is a structural weakness in the Liberal party, it is due, I think, to factional infighting. It takes time to build a winning coalition and if Liberals want to affect the direction of this country (on health care, on the economy, on our role in the world), that's what the party should be focussing on now.
We need more money first off. By my estimate the next round of Harper attack ads will come out before Christmas. Will we be able to respond?
Also, there is, I believe, a remarkable potential for growth in Quebec. But that will require alot of patient effort, working the ridings and building networks and friendships.
None of the things which we need to do to win the next election will happen if the factions are allowed at each other again. I can only imagine that another leadership contest would exacerbate the structural weakness of the party in many and unexpected ways.
How long after such a contest would it be before "Senior Anonymous Liberals" of the losing factions start telling an emboldened CTV(spit)that the new leader is incompetent and not in control of caucus? How many more Libloggers will regurgitate Conservative talking points and openly disparage a new leader during the next campaign? How many Liberal partisans will sit on the sidelines until their "guy" wins.
These contests are emotionally divisive and the party will look incredibly weak during the minority parliament (feeding the NDP narrative). If we seed bad faith now, we will harvest some ugly twisted fruit during the next election.
Dion ran a good campaign without gaffes. And at a certain point last week, alot of Liberals started to think that we just might be able to pull off a victory. In the last few days the tide turned. I think the most effective use of the party's emotional and intellectual resources would be to figure out what changed in those few days. How do we mount a better campaign next time.
This definitely involves analysis of the Green Shift. We may need to drop the carbon tax because the envrionmental movement is fickle and undisciplined. If there is going to be a serious engagement of environmental issues, we'll need to Will it into being within the framework of our own party. But no one is going to come up with the policies that will unite the party if we head into a leadership contest now.
So, if I were Stephane, my first instinct would be to tell the champions of division where to stick it (diplomatically but firmly).
I am a Grit, though. But I think Stephane Dion is one too.