May 19th, 2006
Like a handful of other bloggers, I got a ping from someone offering an interview with Stéphane Dion for this blog, so it got me thinking about the leadership race again. It turns out this blog is listed on this site under the Dion camp in the great leadership blog-off.
So I'd like to address the leadership race a bit here...
On Stéphane Dion, the Clarity act, and his English:
I don't think Dion will have any trouble stemming from the Clarity Act. The people who won't vote for him based on that won't vote liberal anyway - it'll either be for the Bloc, or for a decentralist party like the tories. The Canadian nationalists (aka federalists) in Quebec will flock to anyone who will stand up for their side of the 'sovereignty' debate.
Chrétien proved that you can be relatively unpopular at home in Quebec and still rake in majority governments. People outside Quebec have never minded the accent, and Dion's accent in English is much better than Harper's accent in French. I think Canadians have been and are above judging a person by his accent. We're a bilingual country and I don't think anyone (who would vote liberal) holds that against the candidates.
People have complained about Dion's lack of charisma, but I disagree. He's charismatic in an intellectual way. Harper, too, is an intellectual who has the charisma of a rock and it is not hurting him at all. I believe Paul Martin's obvious artificial charisma and politicking have turned Canadians off this approach to politics for the forseeable future. Charisma is not a requirement, but intellect is.
My main problem with most of the other candidates is they're almost all from COTU -- Toronto, or the Centre of the Universe -- and I believe have a clouded perspective of the country because of that. Toronto is an enormous place and it's easy to forget there's a Canada outside of it. It's no accident Toronto voted overwhelmingly for the incumbent and a large proportion of the rest of the province voted for the challenger in the recent election.
The major exception is Ignatieff, who's simply been AWOL for thirty years teaching at one of the most conceited schools in the world, and expects to return like a deposed leader returning from exile to save the country. On the other hand that may also be his strength - he has not been corrupted by Canadian politics over the last generation, but has instead been corrupted by American politics. He simply has no track record that I can discern other than a few votes in parliament.
One thing we do know about him is that he supported the war in Iraq (though he has since changed his mind) which I don't believe, and never believed, was necessary or justified. I marched in the pre-war anti-war protests and I stand by that opinion to this day. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the US government's motives for going to war are related to money and power, possibly in preparation for a long cold war with China, not with any philanthropic goals.
I may consider Ignatieff next time around after he's been at home a little while and has settled into the Canadian political scene a little more comfortably.
On Bob Rae
I lived in Quebec, not Ontario, at the time, and was a little too young to pay much attention anyway. But from what I understand from people I have talked to since, two major issues killed Rae in his public support when he was premier of Ontario:
- Photo radar. Highway 401 has an average speed, I was told in a defensive driving course, of about 140 km/h. Premier Rae put photo radar in the province tuned to 118 km/h, causing fines for anyone who drove at standard highway speeds. As the budget got tighter, this number was dropped to 108 km/h. I don't care how idealogically aligned I am with a government, an act like that is just plain insulting (speed limits warrant a blog post all of their own.)
- His true common sense revolution. From what I understand, Rae's government gave every civil servant in the province a couple of days off -- unpaid. While this was unpopular, this ingenious solution allowed the government to avoid laying off thousands of public employees. When Harris came along with his common sense revolution, he didn't give anyone any more unpaid days off -- he just fired a large number of civil servants, instead. You decide which one makes more sense.
Rae seems like an intelligent policy man who, like Ignatieff and Dion, lacks much in the way of charisma, but makes up for it intellectually. He is definitely my second choice for the federal leadership, from the options available.
On Hedy Fry
Burning crosses. Say no more.
On Scott Brison
I first heard of him when he was running against David Orchard, Belinda Stronach, et al., for the tory leadership. Definitely a Red Tory, it wasn't much of a surprise when he bailed out of the no longer progressive Conservative party and joined the liberals. I don't believe Brison is serious (yet) about running the Liberal praty, but by staying in the public eye, he is trying to ensure himself a higher profile and a more prominent role in any future Liberal government, and ultimately a better chance in a future leadership race. To that end, I think he will succeed and I look forward to him returning to a federal cabinet.
On the others
There are at least five other declared candidates in the race. I have not seen enough of any of them to really judge them. I have been told I should watch Ken Dryden who, in spite of his hockey background, is supposed to be the fourth leading intellectual in this race (with Dion, Ignatieff, and Rae).
On Gerard Kennedy, Martha Hall Findlay, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Carolyn Bennett, and Joe Volpe? No opinion.
Other candidates who should have, but didn't, run:
- Brian Tobin - a strong partisan and successful federal and provincial politician who would have brought a lot of attention to the leadership race and who would have made a strong leader.
- Pierre Pettigrew - another Quebecker up for the challenge.
- Joe Clark - the last truely principled (even if I don't agree with his principles) Prime Minister we had.
- Sheila Copps - come on, what's a leadership race without her?
- David Orchard - come on, what's a leadership race without him?
I leave you with that thought.
Posted at 11:07 on May 19, 2006
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