Sunday, July 02, 2006

What's Really Going On?

As a Little Guy and a political outsider, it occasionally hits me that I have no idea what's going on. The following is base speculation and should be considered only as questions, and certainly not as truth.

I'm barely savvy enough to realize that most of the candidates for the Liberal leadership are in it to further their political careers. As an example from another race, Belinda Stronach parachuted into celebrity political status by putting a ton of money behind a Conservative leadership bid - was that just a couple of years ago? - when she was totally unqualified. Most of the current Liberal contenders have no chance of winning and are just in it for a cabinet position, when/if the Liberals regain power.

Some of the can't-wins may be in the race to get their ideas in the national forum. I hope that's why Carolyn Bennett's there, because her ideas about reforming the party and bringing it back to the grass roots are wonderful, but I don't think she'd make a good leader.

Then there are the front-runners. A friend of mine was speculating the other day that Ignatieff would not have given up tenure at Harvard unless the current powers-that-be had promised him a mighty strong chance to win the leadership. My friend's argument was that because of this Ignatieff is the candidate who offers the least chance of party renewal and the highest likelihood of returning to government-by-senior-consultants.

What about the other two front-runners, Dion and Rae? Why are they in it? They seem like straight-ahead guys who are in this to win, but is it possible in either case that this is just a chance to rejuvenate a flagging political career or to increase their brand so that they can win international positions? I strongly believe that Bob Rae would be an inspirational leader and one of our greatest Prime Ministers, but sometimes my faith falters and I wonder if he's really in this to win... or whether the race is already overwhelmingly favored for Ignatieff.

Another issue that's nagging at me is why so many senior people, including my riding leadership, are supporting Gerard Kennedy. Kennedy couldn't win the next general election and isn't qualified to run the country; either they're conceding the next election to Harper (as many of Kennedy's supporters say they are), or they don't care whether the Liberals win... or they're strategizing the second and third ballot in the leadership convention... or they hate all the other alternatives... or there's something else going on.

I'll probably make a bid to go to the convention, despite the estimated $1200 price tag. I'm currently a Rae supporter who would probably follow Rae's direction if he had to drop out on a subsequent ballot, or would otherwise go to Ignatieff... so I have no idea if I would get enough votes in my riding to go. In the meantime I'm trying to be transparent in my reasoning and open to debate.

###

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

The interesting thing with your analysis is the propect of reform in the party. That Ignatieff would lead the least amount of reform, while winning the next election could be true.
However, many see party reform as the path to winning the next election.
Winnability has not been a good judge of leadership potential, remember Stockwell Day, Kim Campbell, John Turner etc.
It is dangerous to assume that we will win the next election. With the older end of candidates (Rae & Iggy) the question is, what do we do with them if we loose?
The difference in support for many comes down to whether choosing strategic, or tactical positioning for the next election.
Team Iggy's handling of last year botched parachute was indicative of his brain trust, I would fear for the party under his leadership.

The number of attack ads able to be spun at Rae or Iggy would be enormous.

Brant Liberal said...

I think your analysis is pretty astute.
Why the heck is Hedy/Martha/Carolyn/Maurizio in the race? She/he has no hope of winning.
Why the heck leave Harvard?
What is this strange appeal of Kennedy - I just don't get it from a personal view or from a strategic view. He seems too "packaged", too overrated.
Why the heck would Robert Nixon and Greg Sorbarra support Bob Rae - a guy who kicked their tails in 1990?

Yappa said...

To Anonymous-

Ignatieff and Rae are both 57 years old. I don't think that's old; they each easily have 10 good working years ahead of them (maybe 20). Chretien was 56 when he became leader and 59 when he became PM. More importantly, Rae and Ig have the requisite experience. I think it's a good age to become PM. I think we should probably change leaders every 10 years in any event.

As to whether we win the next election, I think we have to make it the top priority. If Harper gets a majority, Canada may be unrecognizable after 5 years. He's hiding his cards so it's hard to say what he'd do, but I could envision him adopting the US dollar as our currency, making the Canadian military essentially a division of the US military, privatizing health care, gutting social programs, gutting corporate regulations, destoying programs that keep young people out of prison, building more prisons and lengthening sentences, bringing back capital punishment, criminializing abortion, and on and on. It would be disastrous to choose a candidate who can't win in the near term.

Re the parachuting of Iggy into his riding, that is so typical of the Martinite mindset that they may as well have put their signatures on it!

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is off in my opinion. Dion is not one of the three frontrunners, his ground game outside of Quebec and BC is rather pathetic. I come from Saskatchewan for example, where all the talk is of Iggy, Rae, Kennedy, and Brison, probably in that order. I follow the party pretty closely out here, and can not name 5 people in the whole province supporting Dion. At the leaders dinner in Regina last month, he was the only one of the 7 candidates who didn't have a hospitality suite.

Blogger endorsements, favourable media, and experience all help, but a race like this is one with volunteers, memberships, and money. Dion is not in the top 3 in any of those categories nationally, probably not even in the top five. I think the race is Iggy, Rae, followed by a distant 3rd place Kennedy nationally, with Brison, Dryden, Dion, and Vople (yes, Joe Volpe has an organisation) fighting it out amongst the second tier. Dion is not in the top 3, and might not be in the top 5.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is off in my opinion. Dion is not one of the three frontrunners, his ground game outside of Quebec and BC is rather pathetic. I come from Saskatchewan for example, where all the talk is of Iggy, Rae, Kennedy, and Brison, probably in that order. I follow the party pretty closely out here, and can not name 5 people in the whole province supporting Dion. At the leaders dinner in Regina last month, he was the only one of the 7 candidates who didn't have a hospitality suite.

Blogger endorsements, favourable media, and experience all help, but a race like this is one with volunteers, memberships, and money. Dion is not in the top 3 in any of those categories nationally, probably not even in the top five. I think the race is Iggy, Rae, followed by a distant 3rd place Kennedy nationally, with Brison, Dryden, Dion, and Vople (yes, Joe Volpe has an organisation) fighting it out amongst the second tier. Dion is not in the top 3, and might not be in the top 5.

Steve said...

To the last annon - I am also from Sask and I disagree with your assessment on the race. Kennedy will get the most support in the province with Ralph Goodale, Senator Peterson and Frank Proto pushing him to victory in the province. Rae and Iggy are battling for second.