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The Prince Albert Daily Herald, Thursday, February 21, 2008

Liberal leader faces the music

One of the nation's more recognizable political faces can probably expect a rough visit to the area today.

Liberal Party Leader Stéphane Dion will make a whirlwind visit through northern Saskatchewan throughout the day, and part of his visit is obviously intended to promote insider-chosen candidate Joan Beatty in her quest to become the MP of Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River.

And on this front, the man who dreams of becoming the leader of Canada can surely expect some tough questions on his involvement in the appointment of Beatty as the party candidate in the upcoming byelection.

Somewhere, sometime today, Dion is going to have to face reporters (and, we suggest, party faithful) and explain why he chose to circumvent a standard candidacy process and appoint a kidnapped NDP MLA as the official candidate while simultaneously eliminating the democratic efforts of two well-organized campaign groups.

The backroom manipulations of this process cast a sharp relief against a man who has publicly challenged similar machinations from his Conservative counterpart, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

It's also worth noting that Dion has also questioned the excessive power of the Prime Minister's Office - yet he has apparently no qualms about using similar sweeping powers afforded him in his role as the party's leader.

One of the major failings in the public perception of the Liberal Party was the "old boys run the show" image. In this instance, Dion has only reinforced that perspective.

Hence, we expect the questions posed to the man who would be prime minister to be rather tough.

And we expect answers - for currently, Dion's statements and deeds are difficult to reconcile.

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