Canada: Liberals’ Dion Stepping Down

Stephane Dion, the leader of Canada’s once formidable Liberals, said Monday he would soon step aside to allow new leadership to emerge, after his party’s worst election defeat in two decades.

Dion said he would stay on as “leader until a new leader is chosen at a leadership convention that I have asked the party to begin to organize,” he told reporters.

“I will not be a candidate for the leadership of my party at that convention,” he said after last week’s election defeat.

Rather, Dion said he would “remain as leader in order to ensure a smooth and successful transition” and would “also work hard in the meantime to prepare my party properly for the next leader.”

The Liberals under Dion’s leadership won 76 seats in the 308-seat House of Commons in the October 14 vote, 27 less than in the previous ballot in January 2006, and only 36 more than in 1984 — the party’s worst ever showing.

In terms of popular vote, the party’s support dropped to its lowest level since confederation in 1867 in Canada’s first national elections.

Dion blamed a lack of financial resources to counter Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s television advertisements that managed to “distort” the Liberals platform.

Throughout the campaign, Dion had struggled to sell his main election plank for the largest tax shift in recent Canadian history, massively cutting income and corporate taxes to offset a new pollution tax.

via AFP: Canada’s opposition leader to quit

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