I have had a chance to reflect over our conference call with Mr. Dion yesterday. It was an alarmingly candid performance from a seasoned politician. Mr. Dion stressed his experience over the other 10 candidates and it is hard to argue with him. He certainly has a good track record and a polished political sense. He is formally trained in politics and it comes through. What may not be clear to the undecided is the mans commitment and passion which after an hour on the phone became pretty obvious. This is a compassionate politician who is personable but predictable at the same time. Predictable insomuch as his response to the tough questions where to defend the parties recent past - since he was after all an integral part of it.
This might be what ends up defining the leadership debate as I am sure that Ignatieff and Rae will not be so kind to the parties past and may want to take a more "rebuilding message" approach to the campaign. Dryden, who is not as deeply entrenched in the parties past and who can use the Tory dismantling of his daycare initiative as fodder for his bid, may be more inclined to stand above the performance of his parties past and - unlike Dion - may not be so determined to defend it.
Having said this, all in all I was very impressed with Mr. Dion on several levels. First, the fact that he took the time and that his team is organized enough to make the call happen was impressive. Second, the fact Rob Edger, Dion's E-communications co-chair was able to determine which blogs where not committed to a candidates and group them together was an interesting strategy. Third, the fact that Mr. Dion even has an E-communications co-chair is brilliant. Fourth, Mr. Dion stated that he alone would be strong enough to take on Harper and Duceppe in a debate and win. After hearing him rather effortlessly switch between English and French, and rather passionately discuss his position on issues, I would - at this stage - tend to agree. Fifth, the man seems more approachable than I had imagined, not nearly as guarded as I would have thought. Open, fluid and intelligent enough to field questions off the cuff and without preparation.
On the whole - Mr. Dion's performance was excellent.