Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ground Rules for Picking a New Leader

I'm not calling for the ouster of Stephane Dion, but it seems likely that ousted he will be, either by his own volition or by others. So I think it's time to start thinking about how we each decide who we want to be the next leader.

First, we need a leader who is ready to lead. Please don't fight for Justin Trudeau. He just got elected for the first time. He's young. If he wants to be leader, he has plenty of time. Now is not the time. I say this because I saw a poll on TV that placed Trudeau as the second most popular leadership choice of Liberals.

This is part of a more general point: when you propose or support a candidate for leader, please be thoughtful and reasonable. Be rational. Every Liberal can influence the selection of leader, and we all need to be careful about who we support. Someone may sound good, but do your homework and think it through.

Next, we should involve the backroom players in our selection process. Once we have a slate of candidates, we should ask members of the party elite to provide their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

Let's not start out in our corners, fighting tooth and nail. Let's move forward together to select the best person for the job.

What Dion lacked with his surprise win at the convention was a mandate. Had the Liberal party been behind his green shift plan, the country would have understood it, but regular Canadian Liberals just didn't like it or understand it or want it. Dion won by a trick, and then never won us over. Maybe he was the second choice of delegates, but that would have been because the race became so bitter that they wouldn't accept their candidate's real rivals. In any event, Dion wasn't the choice of most Liberal voters. Next time, let's pick someone who everyone can get behind.

And to put my money where my mouth is, this is what I have to say about Bob Rae. I fought hard for Rae in the last leadership race, and I still think that he is by far the best choice in terms of competence, ability to communicate and inspire... and all other leadership qualities. But. He has been in the federal sphere for a few years now, and he hasn't overcome the biases against him based on his time as premier. Even though polls showed that more Ontarians supported him than supported any other leadership candidate, he hasn't been able to break the myth that he can't win in Ontario. Every time his name comes up someone says, He'll never win Ontario. Even though he did an admirable job with the economy, every time his name comes up someone says, He ruined Ontario's economy. They're ignorant, but they're voters. If Rae can't overcome that prejudice quickly, then he shouldn't be our leader.

Here are some people I heard mentioned today as possible leaders:

Michael Ignatieff
Justin Trudeau
Bob Rae
Ken Dryden
Elizabeth May
Ralph Goodale
John Manley
Louise Arbour

Update: James Bowie has a great suggestion about the next leadership vote: "The membership cutoff date should be election day [Oct 14]. If you haven't signed up as a Liberal by the time you're supposed to vote, then feel free to sign up next time, but we don't need you to choose our leader."


Anonymous said...

Does Dalton McGuinty speak French?

I know not everyone is completely dazzled by him, but I thought his Ontario campaign this last time was spot on. Most people point to Tory causing his own decline, but I think that is only partially true. McGuinty knew when to strike and when to act ministerial.

I just get this sense he could handle the machinery part of the equation (fund-raising, organizational building) as well. It seems he's produced an impressive provincial operation.

Just a thought

Anonymous said...

Actually, I feel foolish because perhaps I should have known. Dalton McGuinty's mother was Francophone, and he is apparently bi-lingual.

Premier of Ontario and Quebec roots. Sounds good to me.

Yappa said...

Hi Joseph,

Ack! I totally forgot Dalton McGuinty. His name has been bandied about enough that he must speak French. I like him. He's low-key and super competent.

Deb Prothero said...

Dalton does speak French fluently but he flatly pulled himself off any list today on CBC radio.

Trudeau is too young. He'll be twice the man he is now in 10 or 15 years and still young enough for the job then.

The only one that jumped off that list for me was Louise Arbour. I would get behind that campaign in a heartbeat.

As for your suggestion that the old guard pick, I'm not in favour of that. Although if what you're suggesting is that they take a list and return with a matrix on electability then I'd agree. The old guard for this exercise needs to include some of each camp - like some Chretien, Martin and Dion supporters so that there isn't any skullduggery.

I heard another name today too: Chris Bentley, Attorney General for Ontario. I'd be happy with that choice being put on a list for evaluation.

penlan said...

Maybe we all need to focus on something like this instead of acting like vultures. Our country is about to become unrecognizable if we don't pay attention & work together, as Harper has already begun work again:

"The Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, hinted Wednesday his re-elected government may look at cutting program spending as a way to avoid the risk of running a deficit."
- National Post

Yappa said...

Hi Deb,

Just to clarify: I did not say that the old guard should "pick". I said we should listen to their opinions - and even then, I don't want them to say who they support; I want them to provide a reasoned evaluation of each candidate. In the last leadership race, experienced party members were anathema: we can't repeat that mistake.

I just look up Bentley on wikipedia. He looks interesting.

KC said...

Dion won by a trick

Won by a trick? You mean by being duly elected by the process set out in the Liberal Party constitution?

Anonymous said...

Dion won fair and square. There was no "trick".
ABRI- Anybody but Rae or Ignatieff-the infighting has wrecked the Party.

MERBOY said...

If the Liberal party goes into a leadership contest... Harper will somehow pull the plug IMMEDIATELY after... and guess what party has no money cuz they just blew it all on a leadership convention... 3 guesses.

James Curran said...

I take great offense to this post.

This party cannot afford - monetarily or internally - to have another leadership race.

Your post is irresponsible and incomprehensible. Dion won by a trick? Ridiculous. He was the anti-establishment choice elected by a MAJORITY of Liberals and beat 10 other people to boot.

influx said...

Martin Cauchon is a leader that knows his way around Quebec and is a true progressive. I really think he would make a good leader.

Yappa said...

Why do I call it a trick for the third and fourth place candidates to make a secret deal that was only revealed when one name disappeared from the second ballot? Hunh. Silly silly me.

And "infighting"? What infighting? Bob Rae has been as staunchly loyal and effectively helpful as anyone could be.

Yappa said...

James Curran,

Please see my previous post: The Hard Work Ahead.

Marc Bernard said...

Michael Ignatieff - maybe still too unknown?
Justin Trudeau - too young, but has promise for the future
Bob Rae - too much Ontario baggage (too much fodder for more "not worth the risk" ads)
Ken Dryden - too dry
Elizabeth May - on the fringe - more Green Shift isn't the way to go
Ralph Goodale - too old school
John Manley - too old school
Louise Arbour - interesting idea

I think the best bet is to go outside the party. Is there a "draft Arbour" movement starting?

KC said...

Why do I call it a trick for the third and fourth place candidates to make a secret deal that was only revealed when one name disappeared from the second ballot?

Secret deal? You mean the one where they invented a mind control device and forced all the free-voting Kennedy supporters to go to Dion? There was no secret, and there was no compulsion. Unfortunately for the Iggy supporters, a mere plurality doesnt carry the day in Liberal leadership.

If those are the names that are the ones in any leadership race we're in big trouble.

DLF said...

Michael Ignatieff - If there is a Liberal with even less charm than Stephen Harper, it's Iggy. No. No. No.

Justin Trudeau - In 10 years, if he's been re-elected 2-3 times.

Bob Rae - Can't win in Ontario, can't win a majority.

Ken Dryden - He's a pretty good goalie... for a politician. His ongoing narrative about what Canada and government mean to him makes me a little weepy, in a good way.

Elizabeth May - Hasn't the LPC had enough carpetbaggers who only come on because they can win? Really?

Ralph Goodale - Just the man for the job if it was 2000, and not 2008.

John Manley - Like Frank McKenna, he's been out of politics too long, has the political instincts and campaign accumen of Jean Chretien c. 1998.

Louise Arbour - She's not a member of Parliament, she's not even a well-known Liberal, and she used to be on the Supreme Court. That's a conflict of interest charge waiting to happen.

I don't think that there is anyone ready or suitable for the job right now. I propose we go through some "rebuilding the party" exercises before we get rid of the leader we've got.

Anonymous said...

Louise Arbour?

Are you people mad or is this some kind of master plan to convince Canadians that the Liberal party has in fact been politicizing the Supreme Court all these years?

She's a former justice of the Supreme Court and she was appointed to that post by Jean Chr├ętien. Think McFly, think! Having her lead the Liberal party is a horrifically bad idea.