The Ottawa Sun reports today that indeed it’s quite possible and that the recently vocal Quebec wing of the Liberal Party is stirring with a movement to invoke a clause never used before to revoke Dion’s membership in the Liberal party. I’m not sure how this would affect the Montreal area MP as past expulsions have usually come with the party leader’s blessing and hence the MP in question has been forced to either sit as an Independent or as a member of another party’s caucus. Maybe Dion can become the country’s first Green MP to follow up with his open flirtation with Elizabeth May last year!
While it would certainly embarrass Dion to have to register as a Liberal in another province (if it even comes to that), I think it’s safe to say that PM Harper will still be fighting against Dion in the next election as Dion has nothing to lose at this point in sticking around: there is already open dissatisfaction with his leadership; he’s never contested an election before and will never have the chance again if he cedes his right to do so now; he still has a massive leadership race debt to pay off and not many people will come out to hear the “failed former leader of the Liberal party” speak at a $200/plate dinner; his is under no obligation to have a leadership review vote and if his public image is any indication, he whole-heartedly believes he is the best Liberal leader the party could have right now and is morally obligated to stay on.
In the interest of fair play, I should confess that many Conservatives like myself would actually be more upset if Dion were to retire prematurely as he has done a fantastic job in helping us in Parliament. If another leadership race were triggered, it’d be hard to imagine how things would play out between now and October, 2009. The Liberals would probably want a quick race both to stop the bleeding they’ve been inflicting upon themselves since January, 2006 and to keep costs down both for the central party and the A-list candidates who are still fighting off leadership debts. Parliament wouldn’t change that much as the Conservatives pretty much has a majority as it is right now, although the Liberals would be in even worse financial shape than they are now with the extra costs, making it impossible for them to fight an effective election campaign (they’re currently prepared to borrow most of their campaign costs).
These prohibitive costs must be a small comfort to those who have surrounded themselves around Dion though as none of them actually involve the leader’s ability to deliver and because it’s still pretty well accepted that Dion’s days are numbered, with the only question being whether the last day comes before or after an election. Just remember Stephane, if this Liberal thing doesn’t work out, you’ll always have that fling with Lizzy last year!