September 20, 2007


Advantage: Harper (National Post, September 20, 2007)

Put whatever spin you wish on Monday's byelection results, the biggest losers were Stephane Dion and his Liberals. Like the esteemed columnists who appeared on this page yesterday, we've crunched the numbers, too. We know the Bloc Quebecois lost a larger share of its 2006 general election vote than did Mr. Dion's party in the three Quebec votes. But at least the Bloc managed to hang on to one of their two seats. The Liberals, by contrast, lost Outremont, the only seat of the three that they held before election night -- and, formerly, one of their safest ridings in the country -- even though Mr. Dion handpicked the candidate. Not only did the Tories pick up a seat on Monday, they've bolstered their emerging status as the go-to federalist party in Quebec.

More importantly, Mr. Dion's disastrous byelection showing has left the Liberals fighting amongst themselves over who is to blame. There are plenty of whispers behind the leader's back that he just does not have the stuff to reverse Liberal fortunes. Meanwhile, his staunchest backers are pointing fingers at deputy leader Michael Ignatieff and his followers, accusing them of actually working against Jocelyn Coulon, their own party's candidate in the Montreal riding of Outremont. Their theory holds that the Ignatieff forces sabotaged Mr. Coulon so that his loss (to the NDP, as it turned out) would embarrass Mr. Dion, who would then feel pressure to resign in favour of Mr. Ignatieff, the man Mr. Dion bested at the Liberal leadership convention last December.

Whether any or all of this is true (and we have no idea), it has engulfed the Liberals in internecine battles, all of which plays into Stephen Harper's hands.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 20, 2007 7:27 AM

Chretien and Bouchard would have never let this happen.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 20, 2007 10:02 AM