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Liberal leadership contest could lure convention out of Vancouver

A forthcoming decision on the vote to replace Liberal leader Stephane Dion could change the date and location of the party’s biennial convention slated for Vancouver next spring.

Dion announced earlier today that he will resign as head of the Liberal Party of Canada. But he said he intends to stay on as official leader of the opposition until the Grits hold a vote to replace him.

The logistics of that vote will likely be decided at a meeting of the party's national executive scheduled for Nov. 8, party spokesperson Daniel Lauzon said.

He said he expects the executive to convert Vancouver’s biennial convention, which is scheduled for next May, into a leadership convention.

“The logical choice would be to keep it in Vancouver,” Lauzon said. “But things can change of course.”

Insiders have speculated that it would make more sense to hold a leadership vote in the Liberals’ power base of Ontario, or in battleground Quebec. B.C. is increasingly seen as a backwater for Grit support, especially in light of dismal election night results that saw only five candidates win in the province.

Lauzon said the Liberal constitution states that a leadership vote must be held within the next six months. But it will be up to the executive to fix a date, he added. And there's no guarantee that they'll leave the vote until May.

“They could decide to move it up, and in that case, maybe change locations,” Lauzon said.

Dion announced his impending resignation today after delivering some of the worst election night results in Liberal party history. The Grits dropped from 95 seats in the House of Commons to a meagre 76 seats, and won barely over 26 per cent of the popular vote.

Dion blamed the loss on a negative Conservative party ad campaign that painted his party’s green shift as a hefty tax burden instead of a revenue-neutral climate change plan.

“This propaganda cemented the mindset of Canadians,” he told reporters earlier today.

The Liberal leader’s announcement came only hours after release of an Angus Reid poll suggesting that half of Canadians are not happy with election night results. Less than half of respondents said a Conservative minority would be good for the country and a full third said it's a negative development.

Geoff Dembicki is a staff reporter for The Hook.

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