Dion taps former rivals for election roles
Liberal Leader StÃ©phane Dion announced new election roles Tuesday for his "Dream Team" of former leadership rivals within the party in preparation for the federal campaign.
Dionnamed Gerard Kennedy, who currently does not hold an elected federal seat in Parliament, as his special adviser for election readiness and renewal.
"He will be my eyes, my ears," Dion told reporters during a news conference in Toronto with his former rivals at his side. "I could not ask for anyone better than Gerard. He has a very strong knowledge about how to win an election."
Kennedy played kingmakerduring the Liberal leadership voteearlier this month in Montrealby withdrawingearly from the contestand throwing his support behind Dion. That movevaultedtheformer environment ministerahead of Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae.
Ignatieff, who wasthe front-runner in polls for most of the leadership campaign andfinished second to Dion in the final ballot,was named deputy leader on Monday.
Rae and Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison have been named platform development co-chairs to shape the party's policies on issues such as economic productivity, social justice and environmental sustainability, Dion said.
'We're working under a very tight schedule'
Rae acknowledged the partyfaced a time constraintto prepare acampaign platform amidthe commonbelief in Ottawa that a spring election is inevitable.
"We're working under a very tight schedule," said the former Ontario premierand NDP leader.
Dion tapped Torontolawyer Martha Hall Finlay to travel around the country to co-ordinate with grassroots members of the party on policy as platform outreach chair. Her leadership campaign was seen as a fresh boost to the party, liftingher from relative obscurity.
Despite his absence on the appointments list, former NHL great Ken Dryden will have a prominent role for the Liberals in the next election, Dion said.
"Ken is the heart of our party," Dion said, adding that Dryden would join him in an initiative to counter the government's firing of the president of the Canadian Wheat Board.
"He is so close to the Canadian people and I want him to be everywhere."
Dion said heexpects to hold his first caucus meeting in Quebec on Jan. 22.