Saturday, September 23, 2006

A Good Soldier.

Reading a story on Dion in the Toronto Star this morning, reminded us of a post we had in mind for the summer but never did get to. So here it is.

One of the things we did this past July while on the beach in Florida was read through Trudeau's Memoirs. In that book, we noted his reference to both Jean Chretien and John Turner as "Good Soldiers". In both instances the references were placed to suggest that in spite of Trudeau running roughshod over Chretien and Turner at separate times during his tenure and for different reasons, that the ministers would forgive the overzealous Prime Minister because they were "Good Soldiers".

We heard this reference again in the interview we conducted with Stephane Dion earlier this summer. Twice Mr. Dion referred to himself as being a good soldier and this time it was related to his decision to not make issue out of the Chretien / Martin feud; that he would rather have continued on as a "good soldier" for the greater good of the party.

And so this morning after reading Robert Benzie's column in the Star, it comes up again. Dion is quoted as saying "...I have been in this party...10 years as a minister and I have always been a good soldier."

There are two things that come to mind when looking at this term. First, we agree that Mr. Dion is 'proven' as it relates to " much i'm able to be loyal to my leader and I think loyal to my party." He is likely the candidate with the most tangible link to the Liberal party's past even though that link only spans 10 years.

But this seemingly redeeming trait can also be seen by some as a link to the parties old ways, and as such could detract from the candidates search for a broad appeal. That is to say, that a lot has been made through this long (LONG) leadership race and its quest to bring forward the candidate who will invigorate, reinvent and reposition the party come December. If it is Dion's intent to tie himself to the past by way of his record as a 'good soldier', is he not effectively evoking the spirits of old-boys-clubs and entitlement? And more to the point, who is this claim being made to? Who is left to make this connection and hand over the torch?

I thought the days of Pearson to Trudeau to Chretien are behind us. (With apologies to Mr. Turner).

I thought the Liberal party was trying to put those days behind them.


Anonymous said...

If party unity is key in this race, than showing how loyal you were is vital in rising to the top of that debate.

Dion has been through a lot as a Liberal - and deserves respect for it.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Dion's statement is any different than saying he's a team player - today's lingo for the same thing.

Much ado about nothing.

gritredordead said...

I disagree. If it meant team player, then they would say team player. There is a difference.

When one uses the term good soldier, it implies that just as one would rise through the ranks if they respected authority, then they too would be rewarded through promotion. This post correctly identifies that and yes they were right to suggest that it could, with the emphasis on could, suggest a sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the difference. A team player would also expect to move up through the 'team' if they played well.

tobias said...

Make no mistake Dion is playing that card to further separate himself from the pack.

That is what everyone has been doing for the past two weeks and this is going to intensify over the next month. They are all trying to define themselves by pulling away from each other.

Rae as the debater, Ignatieff as the constitutionalist, Dryden as the centrist, and Dion as the Party's alumni. This is the only way they can give the delegates a clear picture of where they should park their votes in December.