Monday, March 31, 2008

Why Bob Rae's Entry into Parliament Secures Dion's Leadership

There's been some to and froing here and there about whether Rae's entry into Parliament makes Dion's (apparent) leadership woes better or worse. I think the case is pretty clear that things have become better for Dion.

Let's assume five things:

i) Bob Rae would like to be leader as soon as possible.
ii) Michael Ignatieff would like to be leader as soon as possible.
iii) If Dion loses the next election he will be forced out by multiple players.
iv) If Dion is to be forced out before the next election, it will require a much stronger effort then that mounted by one party vice-president, one student council type, and one obscure MP.
v) Such an effort would clearly point to an actively organizing candidate, on the scale of Mulroney contra Clark in 1983, Martin contra Chretien post 2000, or Chretien contra Turner in 1986. A candidate would pay a cost for this.

If you take these as reaonable assumptions, then I think you can back out logically why Dion is now more secure. First, suppose that Ignatieff really puts a push on Dion (which he has not been doing thus far, by my lights). He could perhaps force Dion out, but he too would pay a price for the coup, and this would likely facilitate Rae's rise. Similarly, Rae is now closer to the leadership than he's ever been. But were he to force out Dion, then he would only enable Ignatieff's rise, as he would carry the blame.

Both Rae and Ignatieff, then, would rather wait until after an election (presuming Dion loses) and try their odds in another head-to-head. To make any other move would be to ensure the other's rise.

There is something to this Team of Rivals stuff.

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