- Monday, December 04, 2006 @ 09:00
Tom Manley's predictions turned out to be right on the money. The Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry delegate to the national leadership convention had parked his support behind Stephane Dion while forecasting his victory.
Dion, considered the darkhorse, came from behind to win the leadership on Saturday in Montreal. Manley was ecstatic on Sunday. "Am I ever pleased," he said in a telephone interview. He said the local delegates read the cards well. While the majority supported Dion, some backed Michael Ignatieff.
As for the outcome? "Let me put it this way: some days change the course of history," Manley said.
Much of the criticism of Dion has been leveled at his lack of charisma and his heavy accent. But Manley said the former environment minister has a lot of charisma. Both Manley and the new Liberal leader have a lot in common when it comes to environmental issues. Manley has been a public champion for the environment since he was the deputy national leader of the Green Party.
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and 55 per cent of the delegates liked his charisma. Even among Ignatieff supporters, they had great respect for Stephane Dion," he said. Dion won the leadership over Ignatieff, who was considered the frontrunner during the entire 10-month-long race.
Manley remarked the high energy, excitement and enthusiasm of the convention was a "once-in-a-lifetime" affair. He too, was one of the delegates pressing others to join Dion's camp as he searched for people sporting Gerard Kennedy or Bob Rae buttons, scarves, banners or tattoos. "It was down to the last minutes as we were trying to recruit people." The suspense was awful as the Dion camp grew quite impatient as they waited for the results of the final ballot to be read aloud, Manley said.
Beginning this month, all Liberal riding associations across the country will be nominating candidates for an upcoming election, which political observers say could happen as soon as the spring. "Everything will start to ramp up in January and February," Manley said.