Who's Next?, Liberal Scramble, Tequila Punch
Canadians failed, in record numbers to turnout the vote on Tuesday evening and I suspect that is exactly what Prime Minister Stephen Harpy was looking for when he called a snap election less then two-month ago. Thirty-seven days to be exact.
Harpers Conservatives were the biggest winners Tuesday evening and the celebration lasted well into the single digit hours of early morning. Jack Layton and the NDP were also winners, but perhaps of a more modest variety. Layton’s party, Canada’s representative on the far left have long been considered Canada’s third party, often in the spotlight only to collect the scraps left behind by Canada’s Democrat (Liberal) or Republican (Conservative) parties were expected in this election to deliver stunning advances on the countries official opposition. Instead, the band played on, well the symphony remained in reserve. Layton’s New Democrats managed significant gains, eight more seats including one in Quebec but this would hardly be enough to capitalize on the monumental failures of Stephen Dion Liberal Party.
Dion and the Liberal Party were certainly Tuesday’s biggest losers, twenty-seven seats in total but the Liberal Party lost something more significant during the 2008 federal election and what they lost has become so completely gone from them that it is unlikely they will ever get it back (what a fine bit of rambling). What the Liberal Party lost on Tuesday evening was confidence in their leader, the less then enigmatic Stephan Dion. I could spend a good deal of time and energy trying to explain just why the Stephan Dion show failed to get off the ground but that kind of work is strictly for the pundits and besides prognostications more my game. That being said on with the show.
With the Liberal Party socked away somewhere licking her wounds the question on everybody’s mind is, who’s next? Who will step up to the plate and become the next leader of the Liberal Party?
The following is a list of the top five candidates for the not yet vacated position of . . . Leader of the Canadian Liberal Party. The candidates appear in order of likelihood, fifth position being the least likely, well the first spot has been reserved for the odd’s on choice to be the leader of the Liberal Party when the next federal election strikes.
#5 Newfoundland (Premier) Danny "Millions" Williams - Neither Liberal nor federal politician, Williams disdain for all things Harper might just be enough to make this outsider candidate a real contender. Besides the stellar management and ridiculous approval ratings within his own province Williams has been a thorn in the side of current Prime Minister Harper, launching his ABC-Anything But Conservative campaign to coincide with the 2008 fall federal election. As Premier of Newfoundland, Danny Williams has helped his Province claw its was out from the ranks of the have-not’s and pulley it self into the file of have’s. A 2007 oil equity agreement, a legendary battle with former Prime Minister Paul Martin over Newfoundland’s equalization payments and oh yeah, did we mention da b’ys from
Dildo, Dildo, Newfoundland.
#4 Parkdale-High (MP) Gerard Kennedy - The rah rah siss boom bah candidate in the field, Kennedy would have little trouble claiming Ontario, both the young and the old. Former Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank, one time Ontario Minister of Education and recent visiting professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management @ Ryerson University, Kennedy is both established and recognized. Kennedy is a Leadership Convention assassin who’s experience on the Convention floor will surely be a great asset for him moving forward. Kennedy’s name has appeared on the ballot during both the 96' Provincial Leadership Convention and the 06' Federal Leadership Convention. Defeated in 96' by McGunity, party establishment and the Liberal right-wing Kennedy would mend fences with McGunity to create a two-headed Liberal Opposition that would wrestle control of the Province from the odious hands of the outgoing Harris Conservatives. 06', the Federal Leadership Convention would be marked as both the high and low points of Kennedy bourgeoning political career. Kennedy would raise unprecedented support, just two votes shy of Stephane Dion following the first round of balloting. Round two was less friendly to Mr. Kennedy who fell a full two percentage points behind the front running Dion before withdrawing from the race and throwing his support behind the candidate from Quebec City, Quebec. Kennedy’s support for Mr. Dion came as a result of a pact made by the two candidates where the contender first off the ballot would throw his support behind the other. A brilliant bit of shrewd politicking that surprised veteran contenders Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae well pole-vaulting Dion into the position of Leader of the Liberal Party. This point, if rediscovered by Liberal insiders could potentially become political poison for Kennedy who would be directly attached to Dion’s failed leadership during a time when Liberals will likely be trying desperately to distance themselves from their current leader.
#3 Etobicoke-Lakeshore (MP) Michael Ignatieff - Second in command during the Dion years Doctor Ignatieff biggest obstacle may be his close relationship with the embattled party leader. Unfortunately if folk’s are able to overlook his association with Mr. Dion they will be sure to get caught up on Ignatieff’s slow and steady approach to public speaking. At least Stephane Dion’s 50/50 English is a result of being raised in a Province that is predominantly French speaking, the last time I checked the equally hard to understand Michael Ignatieff was born in English speaking Toronto. Oh yeah, by the way, being born in Toronto certainly qualifies as strike two for this candidate. Although Ignatieff was rumoured to have been behind a 2007 "discreet" Liberal mutiny, the message from the Doctor for the past year has been loud and clear "united we win, divided we lose." Ignatieff an intellectual ringer brought back to Canada by top Liberal organizers Ian Davey and Lawyer Daniel Brock to replace the retiring Paul Martin is certainly the Liberal insider pick and this means the Doctor’s snail-like communication skills will be over looked come the next Leadership Convention.
#2 Toronto Centre (MP) Bob Rae - If being from Toronto is a strike against a Liberal Leadership candidate, then being despised by the cities voters is likely two and that’s the crux for the Liberal Parties most accomplished contender. Former Premier Bob Rae has long been Ontario’s anti-politician, lambasted for his social contract, Rae days (unpaid days off) and turning his back on the very labour movement that proliferated the rise of the NDP. Rae, as leader of the NDP raised social spending, bailed-out Algoma Steel and reopened public sector collective agreements all in the face of the Province’s worst recession since the Great Depression, not exactly a glowing reference during today’s troubled economic times. Rae is certainly more accomplished then any of the other candidates including Doctor Ignatieff, Rae may have only written one book to every three of the Doctor’s offering but the Former Leader of Ontario’s New Democrat Party has out accomplished Ignatieff on the House floor by a margin that would be much tougher to measure.
#1 Saint-Laurent–Cartierville (MP) Stephane Dion - The biggest knock against Dion leading up to election day has been his inability to communicate efficiently with English-speaking voters. This argument however carries very little in the way of validity when one considers that Canadian’s supported a French-speaking Prime Minister that no one understood for an entire decade (93-03). Dion’s lack of even an ounce of punch, his complete failure to be enigmatic coupled with a schoolboy demeanour and an inability to convince eco-friendly Canadian of his righteous cause created an election day avalanche that buried the federal Liberal Party, twenty-seven lost seats in just 37 days.
The truth: For all his faults, Stephane Dion is the best candidate for the position, he may lack Rae’s natural political tendencies or Ignatieff’s gift of intellectualism, he’s does not own the Toronto vote like Gerard Kennedy or have a claim to fame like Danny "millions" but none of those things prevented Dion from winning out against virtually the same cast of characters at the Liberal Leadership Convention in December of 06'. Dion is significantly less despised in Ontario then former Premier Bob Rae, is more alive then Etobicoke MP Michael Ignatieff (hard to believe but entirely true) and is simply more experienced then the hot, young Kennedy. Whether these revelations will bare fruit during future leadership kerfuffle is anybody’s guess, let the equivalent times role.
This week during a pub discussion with friends and colleagues I was taken aside by a tremendously bitter and paranoid member of the discussion. The gentleman confided in me a deep, dark belief that Liberal Part was on its last legs and would soon go the way of the Rhinoceros Party of Canada (1968-93) or the Union Populaire (1979-81). My answer was full of youthful abundance, have faith I told my beleaguered mate, the party will fix it self. Tuesday evening well the election result rolled back with the tequila punch I suddenly found myself doubting my own advice. Wednesday mornings paper however, would alert me to a set of races which would roundly reconfirm my faith in the future of the Liberal Party – Mississauga-Brampton South (MP) Navdeep Bains (31) and Papineau (MP) Justin Trudeau(36). It appears that future of the Liberal Party is very bright indeed.
Pundits Vs Prognosticators
It took me 41/2 hours of cold turkey recovery and two complete days to compose my list of the most likely candidate to carry the Liberal Party forward following a dismal showing in the 08' federal election. During these hectic fit filled days I was treated to a host of pundit opinion on where the Liberal Party was headed and where exactly it should go...
If, nonetheless, Dion insisted on staying in his post, he would plunge the Liberals into an internecine war for the next six months. Party members would tear him apart in the media – not all of them anonymously. Caucus would become unruly as MPs plotted and schemed against their own leader.
Sounds like fun to me
In the short term this sounds devastating to the Liberal Party but the truth is that this is a Liberal Party that is headed nowhere fast, limited leadership, internal strife and competition on the left can all be blamed for the current state of the Liberal Party. Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff and to a less degree Gerard Kennedy, all will continue to drive the Party in the same direction as Mr. Dion, down, in the poles. The saving grace for the Liberal Party is it’s thriving youth movement, a movement that will secure a bright Liberal future where the Party and it constituents will rise again to the glory of the past.