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 "...how 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.