Here it is. In this, the first of three installments we find that Mr. Dryden agrees with the 'spirit' of the Next Face Manifesto and we are told that indeed he will be sufficiently bilingual by December 3, 2006. He also answers our questions dealing with his position on the Senate, Joe Volpe and the roll of government in this very entertaining interview with more to come over the course of the week.
Part 1 of 3.
NF. Mr. Dryden thank you for taking the time. I want to introduce myself and our blog. I am not sure if you are familiar with Next Face?
KD. Yes I have read your Manifesto.
NF. And what did you think?
KD. I think that the spirit is right. I think at times the language would not be my language but I think that the spirit of the challenge ahead of us is right....I think what happens when you are the government for a long period of time is that you get chipped away at day by day by day, and at a certain point you loose your confidence and you are not quite sure that you have the right to believe what you once believed, or that you have the right to be proud of anything...and while there is some energy that comes from power, the real energy comes from ideas, that’s what drives everything...and so if what you are doing isn't rooted in that and isn't rooted in the beliefs that spawned them, then you run out of energy.
NF. We would like to get to a more formal question and answer discussion but first I want to state that while Next Face has remained vigorously non committed as it relates to the Liberal leadership candidates, I would like to start by declaring a conflict of interest as it relates to this interview as I do own 3 of your rookie cards that I originally purchased as a 10 year old over 30 years ago and ..
NF. ...I also remember keeping stats for Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt during each of your games through that incredible season when the Canadiens lost only 11 games…. Was that the 74/75 season?
KD. (Laughs)... well actually there was one year where we lost only 8 games.
NF. It was an unbelievable run and my interest (ran at odds with) my father who ran a militant Toronto Maple Leaf home. For a few years there I followed the (Habs) and sort of lost my way...
KD. (Laughs) Well if you are going to loose your way, that was a good way to loose it.
NF. So as a hockey fan I do admit it is an honour speaking with you. As a political blogger however, I have some philosophical questions that I need to deal with.
First, Next Face - in our Manifesto - stated that the next leader of the Liberal party should be fighting for the kind of Liberalism that has been lost over the years, that the Liberal party at its core where they should be progressive and reformers really came to represent the status quo and the party must rediscover its idealism and energy…do believe this to be the case?
KD. To me what the Liberal party has always been is that it has never been particularly interested in left or right but instead is interested in finding a way. If there is any philosophy of the Liberal party to me is that the purpose is people, and your job as a government is to find a way - find a way to help people. Helping those that are struggling and helping those who are doing well and are looking for a bigger opportunity and you go wherever the best answer lies. I have no interest in parties who by virtue of focusing on ideology are focusing in the wrong place by saying that ideas matter more than people do… and to me that is not what government is about.
So if at a certain moment certain answers maybe what others describe as 'left' you go ‘left’ and if the best answers at a time are 'right’, you go 'right’... and others have described the Liberal party as opportunistic in that way. I don’t think that is opportunistic at all. It is what people need most at a particular time and you deliver it.
NF. Now some house cleaning issues to get out of the way, some rapid fire questions.
Your critics have suggested that you do not answer questions concisely so if you could, answer the following with a yes or a no and if you need to qualify, do so as briefly as possible…
NF. Your Achilles heel is the French language issue. Can you confirm that you are working on this and that you intend to be sufficiently bilingual by December?
NF. Will a national childcare program be the policy that defines your tenure as leader of Canada?
NF. Interesting, really?
KD. No, it will be something bigger than that.
NF. You lived in Quebec and you played as a Montreal Canadien…do you believe that we need to amend the constitution to define Quebec as a distinct society?
KD. (Long pause). I don't know. I have not worked that out in my own mind yet finally.
NF. Do you believe the Senate should be abolished?
KD. (Laughs) Actually not. But I need to say something more than that. Just that it would take so much focus and so much time that it isn’t an important enough (issue) to put your energy and time towards.
NF. Do you think Joe Volpe should drop out of the (Liberal leadership) race?
NF. You don't think that (the controversy around) his campaign funding has hurt the credibility of the party.
KD. I think it hurts. But it is his decision. It is his decision not mine to make for him and it is the decision of the people within the party who need to decide if it matters enough or not. But just saying that someone should just drop out that isn’t the point. It is how we all react to it that is the key point.
Stay tuned for Part 2 which will include : the "Kinsella Question" which generated laughs all around and a respectable response from Mr. Dryden complete with a terrific hockey analogy.
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