It’s not surprising that Liberal leadership talk has heated up a bit heading into this week’s convention. No one is organizing to take Paul out (not enough MacBeth readers among leadership candidates) as most are willing to look past his disappointing tenure as PM and remember his years of undivided and unquestionable loyalty. Ha ha. No, seriously, I expect he’ll get a fairly good total at the leadership review since:
a) Most people who hate him are sitting on their hands and out of the party
b) Most serious leadership candidates were disgusted with the plotting to take out Chretien and won’t challenge him
c) The party is in an unstable situation with the minority government
d) I doubt they’ll even count the ballots. David Herle’s already picked the number in his mind and that’s what will be announced.
But, despite this, there will no doubt be a few whispers in the hospitality sweets about the “next one”. This week, we saw Peter C. Newman toot Michael Ignatieff’s name which is interesting because that's about a serious a suggestion as Justin Trudeau. We’ve also seen the leadership contenders snipping among themselves over John Manley’s “shocking” claims that *gasp* the best candidate, regardless of language, should be chosen.
For those handicapping the field, these would be the favourites, as I see it, with their Vegas odds in brackets:
John Manley (7-2): The Chretien team likes him and he’s had a wide range of Cabinet portfolios, having done well in almost all of them. OK, OK, so he’s not exactly Mr.Charisma and Paul’s inner circle is still aghast that he would have the nerve to question the Liberal party’s membership rules (Liberal Party of Canada in Alberta slogan: “There are too many Liberal Party members in Alberta!”).
Frank “We’ve already joined missile defense” McKenna (6-1): One blogger dubbed him “our very own Paul Cellucci”. But, hey, a lot of the Martinites like him and he could be the man to deliver those 2 seats in New Brunswick the Liberals are missing.
Martin Cauchon (6-1): Will definitely run. Believes it’s the turn of a francophone. Some delegates might feel it’s time for a candidate who can at least match Gilles Ducceppe’s English skills. His pro-gay marriage and pro-pot time in justice will make him a winner in Quebec.
Scott Brison (8-1): The sleeper pick of the field. I think Canadians will accept an openly gay Prime Minister. But I’m not sure they’d accept and openly Tory one.
Brian Tobin (10-1): Holds the record for most references to cod fish ever in a political memoir.
Joe Volpe (15-1): He’s a conniving little SOB who won’t be afraid to take over ridings, strong-arm the competition and have the mafia “disappear” his rivals. Will do well in the GTA which could make him a king-maker.
Maurizio Bevilacqua (15-1): Maurizio Who? Don’t underestimate this guy.
Ken Dryden (15-1): Paul Wells’ description of this guy as an Ent is all too fitting. If he’d run 5 years sooner and surrounded himself with political advisors, he’d be unstoppable. He’s been deflecting shots from right-wingers from years and who else can bring Habs and Leafs fans together? Besides, it’s almost unbelievable that Canada hasn’t had a hockey player as Prime Minister yet.
Others: Pierre Pettigrew (nice hair, but too incompetent), Dennis Corderre (see Pierre Pettigrew comment, minus the nice hair), Sheila Copps (remember her?), Anne McLellan (could be the token female and token Western candidate), David Emerson...