Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Race for Stornoway: Ralph Goodale

“In 1979, he became the embodiment of an endangered political species: a federal Liberal capable of winning a riding in Western Canada.”
-The Canadian Encyclopedia, on Lloyd Axworthy

Age: 56

Background: Ralph has been a Saskatchewan boy his whole life: he was born in Wilcox, did his undergrad in Regina, and went to law school in Saskatoon. Goodale was first elected as an MP in 1974 (fun quiz – add up the total years the rest of the field has as elected Liberals and compare it to Goodale’s total), and after losing his seat to the Joe Clark juggernaut in 1979, became leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party (presumably because no one else wanted the job).

Recent Political History: Goodale was elected in 1993 and served in several Cabinet positions under Jean Chretien, including Minister of Natural Resources and Minister of Public Works. A long time Martin loyalist, Goodale became Martin’s first Minister of Finance, until 2005 when he was replaced by Jack Layton. 2005 was certainly a rough year for Goodale, as the IT scandal hit midway through the election campaign. He is currently the opposition House Leader.

Rejected Campaign Slogan: “Three budgets in a year as Finance Minister – just imagine how much he’ll get done as PM!”

Rejected Endorsement: Ralph’s former Executive Assistant, Jason Kenney.

Strategic Voting: Ralph’s candidacy will certainly lead to a split among the “we need a leader embroiled in the Income Trust Scandal” vote.

Pros: Oodles and oodles of experience. Very well respected. (The) Western Canadian candidate.

Cons: Connected to Income Trust scandal and previous government. Can’t speak French. Not exactly thrilling by any means.

In Person: I’ve heard Ralph speak a few times and I’ve always found that…sorry, I dozed off for a second there. What was the question?

My Take: Goodale should run, if only to give the race a strong Western Canadian candidate. Ralph is experienced and respected, so he’d also help dispel the ridiculous media spin that the “big names” are skipping the race.

But he shouldn’t be the LPC’s next leader. Goodale has been in Ottawa for over 30 years. He’s been a Senior Cabinet Minister for a decade. And he hasn’t even made the slightest effort to learn French. Say what you will about Belinda (and God knows I’ve said a lot), but at least she’s making an effort.

Beyond that, Goodale couldn’t win an election. He’s far from charismatic and his name has been (fairly or unfairly) rolled up in the Income Trust Scandal Thingy. So I hope Goodale runs, but I’d have a tough time supporting his bid.

Chances: Goodale will bring a block of Saskatchewan delegates to the convention if he runs and will get a lot of media attention since he’s a big name, but I would be very surprised if he lasts past the first ballot.


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