I’m impressed by a quote from Stéphane Dion in today’s Globe and Mail. The article discusses four potential candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada: Dion, John Godfrey, Carolyn Bennett, and Scott Brison:
- Potential candidates for the Liberal leadership are beginning to stake out the central policy positions for their bids, as they seek to attract enough organizational and financial support to make it possible to enter the race. …
Recent leadership races have seen candidates line up money and organizers and wait to unveil policy ideas later. But in a wide-open race expected to see more than a half-dozen serious entrants, some are talking about core policy concerns earlier.
All four of the potential candidates emphasize environmental issues. John Godfrey explains, “I think it’s up to us as the Liberal Party to grab this agenda, to show that we’re clearly different in our approach than the Conservatives, to win back the votes we lost to the NDP, to the Greens, and to the Bloc.”
But Stéphane Dion demonstrates an awareness of other issues as well:
- Mr. Dion, 50, argued that the Liberals have traditionally had success combining social and economic development, but that sustainable development must become the “third pillar.”
“It’s not just the environment. It’s all industrial activity — agriculture, fisheries, forests, innovation — and universities, so that we have a hyper-educated population in the face of a China, which produces 300,000 engineers a year,” he said.
I’m still curious about Michael Ignatieff as another potential candidate, but I’ll pick Dion as my early favourite for the job. The issue that he identifies here, developing the skills necessary to compete in a truly global economy, is vital if Canada is to remain prosperous. Dion describes sustainable development as “the most important issue for the next generations.”
I also believe that the federal government must be led by someone who can push back on the provinces with their never-ending demands. No one else can point to a track record like that of Dion, who regularly and effectively rebutted the specious arguments of Quebec sovereigntists during the Chrétien era.
Imagine a federal election debate in which Harper and Dion square off against each other. The next election might actually turn on substantive policy issues: what a novel concept!