But after spending two days criss-crossing this riding, I found most voters – including most Liberal voters – echoing Sheridan. They can't exactly say why they don't like Dion. They just know that they don't.I've said it before, but I'll keep on saying it. All of this has nothing to do with Dion himself. He actually had quite the honeymoon back in 2007. The reason why this is happening is because the Conservatives lavishly spent on anti-Dion attack ads, and the reason why they could do that is because of fundraising.
"He just doesn't seem to know whether he's coming or going," says Sheridan after pondering the question. "He doesn't seem to know where he stands on issues."
In fact, Dion has taken controversial stands – and held to them. His plan to shift the tax load from income to carbon, while perhaps misguided politically, is unusually bold for an opposition leader trying to win power. As a minister in Jean Chrétien's government, he devised – and stuck with – a hardball plan to combat Quebec separatism. It was widely derided in his home province, but it worked.
Indeed, those close to the Liberal campaign say Dion's problem is not that he's too wishy-washy, but the reverse – that he refuses to take advice or change his mind.
But in this riding, none of this appears to register.
Rather, the Dion that many voters say they see is the one presented in Conservative radio and television ads – a ditherer, a figure of fun, a geek.
The Liberals problems have nothing to do with leadership. They have to do with fundraising. They have to do with a party that has to hug the center and, therefore, hasn't developed an activist core. Without those activists, you aren't going to get a Dem-style netroots... and without the netroots, 21st century progressive fundraising isn't going to happen.
Without the money to blunt the Conservatives' attacks, Rae will be a communist, Kennedy will be a bubblehead, Iggy will be another out-of-touch university professor, and I don't want to think what they'd do to Findlay. The person who won doesn't matter. It's like how Obama was going to be attacked no matter what, and so was Clinton. (And everybody else running for the Dem nomination)
Welcome to the Permanent Campaign Against the Republican Machine, Canada.