Friday, June 09, 2006

My Take on Gerard Kennedy

I have been holding off saying what I really think about the Gerard Kennedy. I have felt a bit uncomfortable being negative about him, and I still am... but what the heck; here's what I think.

There's a lot of talk about Kennedy running two food banks, but I'm not sure that the people talking about it understand what running a food bank entails. I was a volunteer at the Daily Bread food bank for a couple of years during Kennedy's time there as Executive Director. My impression was that Kennedy was essentially a media spokesperson. I can't remember how many paid employees there were at the Daily Bread, but I think it was just a few. There was also a board of directors that seemed to be making a lot of the decisions. I'm not saying that he did nothing - just that his experience there is being blown way out of proportion.

I checked out Kennedy's record in the Ontario legislature, and he hasn't shown much interest in anything outside of education and social services. It's great that he's got that niche but federal leadership requires a whole lot more. Added to that he only has provincial political experience - and not much of that.

Kennedy's campaign seems to be well-financed. In the candidate videos all the other candidates address the camera, but Kennedy's video is a glitzy music-backed montage in which he appears only in still shots. To me, this video emphasizes his weakness as a public speaker and his appeal as a pretty-boy.

If Kennedy were a brilliant speaker and thinker it wouldn't matter so much that he was unable to get a university degree from undemanding programs at two universities (and I think more than four years of effort). He's a lightweight, and Harper would crush him in a debate.

I would have assumed that Kennedy's leadership bid is just a way for him to move up to a cabinet position when he switches to federal politics, but a lot of people (including some key people in my riding association) are backing him for leader. His bid is real and while he's not the frontrunner, he has a very real chance of becoming leader.

In short, I don't think Kennedy is qualified to do the job. He may be one day, but I'd say even that is a long shot. At the best, if we elect him he won't be ready to take on Harper until five years from now, and handing Harper five years (and possibly a majority) is a disastrous plan.



Anonymous said...

A Bob Rae supporter coming out against Gerard Kennedy? Now that's both predictable and surprising.

It's funny how you have little bits and pieces of a few observations while working at the food bank and are able to base Gerard's credibility on it. And calling his record into question while he was with the legislature? 'not much outside of education and social servies', umm! duh! really!

Get the fuck out of here dude, Bob Rae is a great man but a lousy politician unlike Gerard who has both traits.

Anonymous said...

Oh, comment moderation enabled. Here is hoping you don't allow censorship to take over.

Anonymous said...

You are a waste of a blogger and this was a waste of a post. We all know this race isn't for winning the election because the last thing we need to "visualize" is being in power. Let's get our ducks in a row first.

Anonymous said...

Yappa Din Ding,

Everytime I reread this entry on your blog, I am more and more disappointed that you wrote it.

Other parts of your blog show a zeal for integrity and fairness (the reason you are bookmarked), and then you write an entry that lacks integrity and fairness.

Statements like:

My impression was that Kennedy was essentially a media spokesperson. HE WAS ACTUALLY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR.

I checked out Kennedy's record in the Ontario legislature, and he hasn't shown much interest in anything outside of education and social services. YOU APPEARED TO HAVE MISSED THE 2 1/2 YEARS AS SUCCESSFUL HEALTH CRITIC (THE OTHER LARGE PROVINCIAL MINISTRY)

...he only has provincial political experience - and not much of that. I GUESS GERARD'S TEN YEARS IS NOTHING COMPARED TO RAE'S FOURTEEN YEARS

Kennedy's campaign seems to be well-financed. MAYBE IT IS WELL-RUN

...this video emphasizes his weakness as a public speaker and his appeal as a pretty-boy. IT'S ONLY ONE VIDEO AND IT EMPHASIZES GERARD'S HISTORY: BUT WE WILL NOT MENTION YOUR CANDIDATE'S HISTORY

He's a lightweight, and Harper would crush him in a debate. THAT'S WHAT LIBERALS THOUGH OF HARPER

The fact that Gerard and you were at a food bank (instead of in law school or an investment house or somewhere else) says something about both of you. To me it says that you are generous with the one commodity that many people are not generous with - their time. It also reveals to me that you care about others enough to actually do something about it. You live the talk. So does Gerard.

I met Gerard while I was at the U. of A. When Gerard was at the Edmonton Food Bank (in his mid-twenties), he was approached by the provincial Liberals, NDP, and Conservatives to run. Instead, he went to the Daily Bread Food Bank.

In Toronto, Gerard was constantly approached by all three provincial parties. In spite of making probably one-third the salary, he stayed in his position at the Daily Bread Food Bank for 10 years. If he was and/or felt that he was just a figurehead, he would not have stayed for 10 years. The truth is, he was not just a figurehead. He was the Executive Director of an organization that feed over 150,000 monthly (NOTE: this included 5 years in which your candidate of choice was premier; someone I hoped would have eliminated the need for food banks and someone I hoped would have done more to decrease child poverty).


Yappa said...

In response to MississaugaPeter:

Thanks for taking the time to write such a well thought out response. I was hesitant to publish what I thought about Kennedy because I don't want to piss off fellow Liberals, and I'm sorry to be seeming to attack someone you support. I would support Kennedy as a cabinet minister, and if I were living in his riding I'd volunteer in his campaigns; I just think he shouldn't be leader.

In response to some of your points:

- I know that Kennedy was Executive Director of the Daily Bread Food Bank. My point was that the ED job was more of a media spokesman job than a CEO job. He wasn't running a large operation with lots of employees, and his job seemed to me to be mostly talking to the press. I have worked in big companies and seen CEOs - he was doing something much less than they do. (I know he won a "CEO of the year" award but I think that was a misnomer.)

- I said his MPP experience is mostly education and social services. You mention health as an exception, but health is a social service.

- I should have been clearer about what I meant by not a lot of political experience. I mean at a high level. Yes, I know he has been an MPP for 10 years, but he has been a provincial cabinet minister for just a couple. Again: he's done a really good job; it's just not enough to qualify him to be Prime Minister, perhaps within a year.

As to what you said about Harper, I agree. He is not qualified to be Prime Minister. The underhanded way he stole the Conservative party is a scandal that historians will be talking about for generations. I lived through Mike Harris destroying Ontario and I don't want to live through a Harper majority. The man is pro-death penaty, against human rights for gay people, anti-abortion, against the social safety net, against universal health care... he is orders of magnitude worse than Brian Mulroney, and the worst thing about Harper is that he's an ideologue; he doesn't represent you or me, he represents his religion and his base.

We need to elect someone who can defeat him, and someone who can be a great Prime Minister. That's my bottom line. As for Rae, I feel confident that he can do the latter, but I don't know if he can beat Harper. Is his history in Ontario too much of a liability? I'm very concerned about that. I would never diss another candidate just to bolster my pick; I think we need to work together to find the best candidate.

Anyway, thanks for mixing some kind words in with your disagreement with my post, and good luck in all your endeavors!

Mark Dowling said...

My main problem with Kennedy is that he didn't finish the job he was elected to do - fix the schools. The Liberals have left the same funding formula in place that the PCs put in and things are just getting worse and worse. Now GK gets to bail out before the crap hits the fan.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Kennedy supporter but everyone is tiring of hearing about the food bank stuff. It's a mistake to keep refering to it endlessly and it's irrelevant to his current bid to be the leader of the Liberal Party. I'm more interested in what his ideas are now and what he can bring to the table in refernce to the challenges we face in Canada at the moment. I also like Bob Rae and voted for him in Ontario but he's looking very tired and beaten up. I reserve my final judgement until all the debates are over and we can see what the candidates can really do.

I support your right to express your opinion. I think that the most valuable information a candidate can have is taken from opponents not from admirers who won't speak up when something isn't right.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

Anonymous said...


Gerard never bailed.

After McKenna, Tobin, and Rock did not step up, many people came knocking on Gerard's door. He was taken aback by the push from Liberals at all levels (from Senators and MPPs to commonfolk like myself).

I spoke to Gerard at his New Year's Levee and he was very focused on insuring the education file was ready for the scrutiny of the 2007 Ontario provincial election.

Gerard never bailed.


I am glad you still are considering Gerard. Like with the other campaigns, the push for the next 20+ days at the Gerard camp is on increasing the Liberal Party membership. Policy is being constantly discussed and policy statements from the Gerard camp are becoming more frequent. By September 29, I expect you will be very satisfied with Gerard's ideas and platforms.

Re: Food Banks. Gerard's work at food banks for 13+ years and Gerard's work in the Liberal Party for 10+ years define him. Since you know Gerard, it may be be tiring. Unfortunately, millions of people still are not aware of his selflessness and commitment to others.