| Canada | Sources predict early Dion departure
Sources predict early Dion departure
Liberal Leader Stephane Dion says he's written to the Governor General urging her to reject any move by the Conservatives to suspend Parliament. (Dec. 3, 2008)
Dec 05, 2008 03:06 PM

Ottawa Bureau

OTTAWA – Federal Liberals say that Stéphane Dion's leadership role could be coming to an early end as the party gears up for the next round of political conflict with Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government.

Dion, who stayed on as interim chief after the Liberals suffered a disappointing loss in the October election, is under pressure from his caucus to rethink his current commitment to remain at the helm until a leadership convention to replace him is held in May.

Liberals' lack of confidence in Dion peaked this week when his videotaped statement on national television regarding the showdown in Parliament arrived late and appeared amateurish and unprofessional. In a closed-door Liberal caucus meeting on Thursday, MPs made their impatience with Dion's performance as leader clear.

"There's a good possibility that he will step down early" as leader, said one well-placed Liberal insider.

CTV News reported this afternoon that Dion would likely be resigning his position as interim chief before Christmas. But there was no immediate statement from Dion's office on his future.

Many Liberals have expressed concerns about going into another election with Dion heading the party if they join with the New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois to vote down the Jan. 27 federal budget and defeat the government.

The question of leadership is a key question mark as the Liberals plot strategy in the wake of Gov.-Gen. Michaelle Jean's decision to allow Harper to suspend Parliament rather than face a confidence vote on Monday that was virtually certain to bring down the minority Conservative government.

Unless Harper's Jan. 27 budget includes important concessions to the opposition parties, particularly a major economic stimulus package, the Liberal-New Democrat coalition (supported by the Bloc Quebecois) is committed to voting down the Harper Conservatives at that time. If that happened, Jean might ask the Liberal-NDP coalition to take power or dissolve Parliament for another election.

This prospect has led some Liberals to look for ways to install a new leader – possibly an interim head such as former cabinet ministers John McCallum or Ralph Goodale – as soon as possible so the party does not wind up fighting another election under Dion.


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