The Gerard Kennedy Experiment
However, should Paul turn down the offer, I think Liberals everywhere should take a long, hard look at Gerard Kennedy. I'm not endorsing him or anything, but at first glance he seems like the perfect candidate. Consider this:
1. He's an outsider, free from the Chretien/Martin battles
2. He's young (42) which is something this party needs as we try to rebuild. Ignatieff and McKenna are in their late 50s.
3. He's bilingual (but, then again, who isn't, these days?)
4. He's got over a decade of experience in government and is considered to be Dalton McGuinty's best Cabinet Minister.
5. He grew up in Manitoba, and went to University in Edmonton so he's got Western roots, which will be useful for a leadership run. And also for reaching out to Western Canada.
6. He made a name for himself setting up Edmonton's Food Bank, and running Toronto's. Try running an attack ad against that.
7. Every single Liberal I've talked to who ever met the guy likes him. One reader sent me an e-mail saying "he screwed me over at the 1984 leadership convention but I still like the guy and might support him". He sounds like a very personable, friendly, sincere guy.
8. He's supposedly charismatic. Never heard him speak, so I don't know.
9. He's clean of scandal.
10. He's left leaning, making him Jack Layton's worst nightmare.
11. He finished second to McGuinty for leadership of the provincial Liberals in 1996, so he must have a bit of an organization in place already.
12. He's got the best...political...name...ever. I mean, at a time when Canadians are cynical of politicians, what's better than a Kennedy? And Gerard is a name which works well in French and English.
Some people say he isn't running. Some say he might. If I were Kennedy, I would absolutely run. Think about it. It's going to be a wide open race, which could go multiple ballots. This might be a Trudeau '68 scenario or a Joe Clark '76 scenario. He'd appeal to the party's left wing, and would be someone Liberals leery of McKenna could rally around. At the same time, he's free of the civil war baggage, meaning both Chretien and Martin supporters would back him. Even if he doesn't win, I'm certain Kennedy would fare well, which could set him up as the favourite next time around, when he'd be around 50.
I don't know enough about the guy to guarantee I'd support him if he ran. But in a field of 20 or 30 rather uninspiring candidates, someone like Kennedy might be exactly what the Liberal Party of Canada needs right now.