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OPEN LETTER, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, November 30, 2008
Mr. Doug Ferguson,
President, Liberal Party of Canada
Members of the National Executive
Liberal Party Caucus members

Dear President, Members of the National Executive and Parliamentary Caucus,

I am writing to you as a member of the Liberal Party who is greatly concerned about the reports and interviews in the media where comments are being made by Liberal caucus members and "insiders" about "who should be the leader of the coalition" (between the Liberal and New Democratic parties). The media reports, gleefully, that various proposals are being discussed, and that there is a plan to oust our present leader, Mr. Stephane Dion, and replace him with a more palatable (to the caucus, to the executive members, to the party elites) person.

That this could even be talked about in Liberal party leadership circles is shocking, as it indicates a lack of elementary loyalty to, and solidarity with, our elected leader and a contempt for the membership, an attitude which will only create havoc in the party, and perhaps lead to a severe crisis from which the party will not recover for years to come.

The facts are these: back in December 2006, in our convention in Montreal, Stephane Dion was elected by the membership to be the party's leader. He was chosen, I believe, because there was a strongly-felt need for something new and fresh, not part of the "same old, same old" which had ceased to attract Canadians to the party, as members and voters. This decision by the members stands, and cannot be undone by a handful of individuals in the caucus and on the executive.

It should be no surprise to anyone that Mr. Dion did not fare well in the electoral arena. He inherited the fate that had befallen the previous leader, Mr. Paul Martin, of being defined by the Conservatives before he had a chance to establish himself. Paul Martin's rapid descent from an experienced and competent politician, and — unlike Mr. Dion — well known to Canadians, to "Mr. Dithers," was even more spectacular, and speaks to the success of Stephen Harper's U.S.-style negative campaigning. This aggressive campaigning will no doubt define the next leader as well, unless we can stop it — and unless we are prepared to protect our leaders better than we have in the recent past.

The only remedy we have as party members is our loyalty and respect for the men (and women, when that happens) who are putting their lives and reputations on the line for the good of the country. To see a leader as shabbily treated as Stephane Dion, not just by the media and Conservatives, but our party's parliamentary caucus and behind-the-scenes elites is intolerable and unforgivable. It was bad enough that he received the bum's rush after the election and was forced (by the caucus, we are told) to walk the plank and be publicly humiliated in the process, but is outrageous beyond belief that now we have the same people, often without their names known to us, speaking to the media about replacing Stephane Dion with "somebody else" if and when the coalition becomes a reality. We only have one leader and by definition a coalition government will have as its leader the leader of her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. End of discussion!

Along with other party members, I expect public assurances, in words and actions, from yourself, Mr. President, and the national executive, that there will be no coup d'etat attempted, no subterfuge tried to replace Mr. Dion, and that the caucus and the executive will act as loyal members of the party, and not as some self-selected rogue element which makes decisions without the slightest consideration for the membership — or for the consequenses of their actions on the future of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Awaiting your response, I remain

Sincerely yours,

Marjaleena Repo
Saskatoon (Blackstrap)

P.S. Much is being made, STILL, of the fact that under Mr. Dion's leadership, the party lost 26 seats. Do the caucus members, executive members and various "anonymous Liberals" not know or remember, that under Mr. Martin the party dropped 69 seats in his two elections? Clearly, there is more to be questioned than the performance of the current leader, and by focusing on his alleged shortcomings, the party itself, with its lack of any sign of "renewal" or "revitalization" (as we are so often rhetorically promised), avoids a well-deserved scrutiny.

Marjaleena Repo
201 Elm Street
Saskatoon, S7J 0G8

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