Sunday, July 30, 2006

On The Bubble

Just a reminder that voting for the Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had closes Monday at noon, so get your votes in. Some background information on the candidates can be found here:

Sifton Endorsement
Several candidates panned
A look at the female candidates
A look at the 19th Century candidates
Links to bios

The top 16 will make it to the next round so it might be time to quit the "bloggers for HH Stevens" campaign and start some strategic voting. Here are the standings as they sit right now:

1. Robert Stanfield
2. Preston Manning
3. Ed Broadbent
4. Tommy Douglas
5. George Etienne Cartier
6. Lloyd Axworthy
7. Roy Romanow
8. Peter Lougheed
9. John Crosbie
10. Frank McKenna
11. Stephen Lewis
12. Louise Arbour
13. Bill Davis
14. D'Arcy McGee
15. John Manley
16. Mike Harris
17. Deborah Grey
18. CD Howe
19. Mitchell Sharp
20. Paul Martin Sr.
21. Dalton Camp

Louise Arbour and above all seem safe to make it to the next round and are just jockeying for position. I've already talked about Grey and McGee so I'll give a quick run-down on the other candidates between 13 and 21 who have a chance to make it to the knock out round (no one else appears to be within striking distance).

13. Bill Davis: It's no secret that I have a soft spot for Ontario education ministers and that's where Davis first made his mark, dramatically reforming the education system in Ontario in the 60s. In 1971 he won the PC leadership and majority government. However, Davis is best remembered for the minority governments he led in the second half of the 70s. Because of the minority status and the Tories urban strength, Davis brought in many progressive reforms to health, education, bilingualism, and workers rights. He also jumped into National debates on many occasions and was a strong support of Trudeau's constitutional patriation plan. Davis briefly considered running for PC leadership in 1983, before recognizing that he'd have a tough time wooing the Western delegates.

14. D’Arcy McGee: McGee was a newspaper editor and a father of confederation (as an aside, were any fathers of confederation not newspaper editors?). Before entering politics, he spent a lot of time living in Boston, so one imagines the Tilly supporters in this contest will hit him hard on that. In the 1860s, he joined the grand coalition and was a strong advocate of Westward expansion. McGee was critical of the Irish Fenian movement and it’s widely believed that that was responsible for his downfall. In 1868, he became Canada’s first, and only, federal politician to ever be assassinated. On the bright side, it did get him a hip pub named after him.

15. John Manley: As a strong supporter of John Manley during the last "leadership race", I'm glad to see him doing well in this poll. Unlike the guy who won, Manley was always an individual willing to make unpopular decisions. This caused him some grief from the anti-American wing of the Liberal Party over the years and landed him in hot water over his insane view that Canada should have a Canadian head of state. In Foreign Affairs, he was praised for his reaction to 9/11. In Industry, he was praised for his focus on innovation. In the end, he rubbed a lot of Liberals the wrong way for having the nerve to run against the anointed one and for questioning the party's membership rules. But it definitely makes an interesting "what if" to imagine how Prime Minister Manley would have performed had he been selected Liberal leader in 2003.

16. Mike Harris: The less said about this, the better.
(in fairness, there are some good things one could say about Mike Harris, but I really don't want to be the one to say them)

18. CD Howe: D'Arcy McGee got a pub named in his honour and CD Howe got a think tank. This should tell you a bit about the kind of man CD Howe was. Howe certainly fit the mould of the Liberal Prime Ministers of his era: extremely competent, focused on business, and downright arrogant. Howe was Transport Minister prior to WWII and received heaps of praise for his role in running the war effort at home as Minister of Munitions and Supply. As Minister of everything, he was instrumental in growing Canada's infrastructure through the CNR, St.Lawrence Seaway and Air Canada. However, his "what's a million" line during the pipeline debate inevitably led to the downfall of St.Laurent's government.

19. Mitchell Sharp: I don't plan to say which 16 people I'm voting for but I will say that Mitchell Sharp is one of my all time favourite Liberals and I think he'd be a worthy pick for the group of 16.

After a career in business and trade, Sharp was elected as a Liberal MP in 1963. As Minister of Finance from 1965 to 1968, Sharp put his business background to work and helped mentor along a young MP by the name of Jean Chretien. In 1968, Sharp tossed his hat into the ring for Liberal leadership. However, when crisis hit the Canadian dollar during the campaign, Sharp abandoned his campaign to focus on his job as Finance Minister, putting the country's well being ahead of his personal ambition. Because of this, he was forced to drop out of the race. But by throwing his support behind Pierre Trudeau, he gave Trudeau the credibility with right wing and establishment Liberals necessary to win (I do realize that by giving him credit for making both Chretien and Trudeau what they were, I've probably killed any chances he had in this contest).

Throughout his career, Mitchell Sharp performed well in all Cabinet portfolios, displaying a refreshing amount of sincerity, honesty and loyalty. While he may not have had the flair of some politicians, he certainly would have made a very capable Prime Minister.

20. Paul Martin Sr.: Had this contest been run three years ago, I suspect PM1 would have been a final four contender; needless to say, the sins of the son have probably hurt the father's popularity. It's a shame too, since I was hoping to be able to write an "alternative history" where Martin's supporters rig the rules to ensure him a win at the '68 leadership convention and, upon taking office, he purges the party of Pearson loyalists and calls a judicial inquiry into the Rivard scandal.

All jokes aside, Martin was a long time Liberal Party stalwart and accomplished a lot while in government, especially in health care and foreign affairs. As a three time leadership loser, few in this contest have come closer to the top job than Martin and I'm quite surprised that he hasn't cracked the top 16.

21. Dalton Camp: Rejected endorsement: John Diefenbaker.

Despite having never been elected as an MP himself, Camp was certainly a bright individual who could handle himself in front of the cameras. He also proved himself to be a master tactician and cut-throat when he needed to be, so it's not far fetched to imagine this Red Tory as Prime Minister of Canada. OK, maybe it's far fetched, but not "Prime Minister Fry" far fetched.

Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had - Seeding Round
Atlantic Canada
Dalton Camp
John Crosbie
Joe Ghiz
Joseph Howe
Allan MacEachen
Angus MacLean
Alexa Mcdonough
Frank McKenna
George Murray
Jack Pickersgill
Joey Smallwood
Robert Stanfield
Samuel Tilley
Robert Winters
Clyde Wells
Louise Arbour
Lucien Bouchard
Henri Bourassa
George Etienne Cartier
Maurice Duplesis
Adélard Godbout
Marc Lalonde
George-Émile Lapalme
Jean Lapierre
Ernest Lapointe
Pierre Laporte
Jean Lesage
Rene Levesque
Jean Marchand
D'Arcy McGee
Frank Scott
Edward Blake
Ed Broadbent
George Brown
Sheila Copps
Bill Davis
George Drew
Eddie Goldenberg
Mike Harris
Paul Hellyer
CD Howe
Warren Kinsella
David Lewis
Stephen Lewis
Donald "The Donald" MacDonald
Flora MacDonald
Barbara MacDougall
John Manley
Paul Martin Sr.
Agnes McPhail
Oliver Mowat
Allan Rock
Mitchell Sharp
OD Skelton
Western Canada
Bible Bill Aberhart
Izzy Asper
Lloyd Axworthy
Dave Barrett
WAC Bennett
John Bracken
John Brownlee
Iona Campagnolo
Larry Campbell
MJ Coldwell
Stockwell Day
Gary Doer
Tommy Douglas
Gary Filmon
James Gardiner
Deb Grey
Mike Harcourt
Elijah Harper
Ralph Klein
Peter Lougheed
Ernest Manning
Preston Manning
Don Mazankowski
Nellie McClung
Audrey Mclaughlin
"Duff Man" Duff Roblin
Roy Romanow
Ed Schreyer
Clifford Sifton
HH Stevens
Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie Vander Zalm
JS Woodsworth

(view results)


  • My first thought - Deb Grey I like, but she's beating Flora McDonald? I'd sure like to hear thoughts on the preference.

    I like Deb Grey, a lot - I see her more as Excellent Cabinet Choice more than PM, I guess. Just curious as to why people picture her in the PMO. Hey, you could change my mind and get my vote!

    Secondly - didn't know too much about Mitchell Sharp, it turns out, and that was a really astounding bit about him dropping the race to look after his Ministry - wow. Wow. That alone probably makes him worthy of Top Ten - I can't imagine that trait in Layton or Chretien or Harper.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 8:10 a.m.  

  • Dana; McGee was mentioned in the 19th Century politicians post I did a few days ago.

    I'll admit I don't know much about the guy though - he'd certainly be the largest unknown in the top 16 if he stays there.

    Jason; I'm with you on Deb Grey. A good MP, but it's hard to see her as Prime Minister. I'd certainly consider Flora McDonald and a few others ahead of her.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:22 p.m.  

  • I'm just trying to figure out WHO would have actually voted for Vander Zalm. Dear God.

    By Blogger Candace, at 1:35 p.m.  

  • What I find laughable about this is chances are statistically, the best Prime Ministers we never had were all women, because they didn't get the chance.

    Just as the the most unrealized geniuses are in Africa where they didn't even get the chance at a basic elementary education far less get to go to Oxford or Harvard.

    By Blogger S.K., at 1:48 p.m.  

  • You skipped McGee in the 19th Century post (go check it)... And yet he is still in the top 16. Huzzah!

    By Blogger J. Kelly, at 2:10 p.m.  

  • I'm going to go the "50 Tracks" route and make my case for Flora McDonald.

    First off - robbed. C'mon, you're telling me she lost to Joe Clark because he was the best fit for the job? Clark's like Deb Grey - smart, fair, terrific Cabinet material, but PM?

    Moderate. I like Blue Liberals and Red Tories, they walk a good middle ground and can see across the fence to appreciate good ideas on the other side - to me, that's invaluable.

    Capable. She fared well enough in Cabinet to be returned by the next PC PM.

    Practical, not ideological. A former PCer who voted NDP? Non-partisans rock.

    Female. Of course, no one in '76 should have voted for her just because she was a woman, but this is about "Greates PM Never", and having a female head of government would have changed things forever in this country. A real, genuine, elected female leader would inspire little girls to look to politics -- it's not hard to imagine a lot more women in Parliament today, had McDonald won. It's easy to imagine a 21st Century Canada where we're not asking, "How can we get more women into politics?" More than most people on the Contenders' List, she had the power to change the nation and the nation's place in the world simply because of her demographic -- at the very very minimum, she'd have to be competent and capable.

    Being a PC would only help her here internationally. Being a Conservative helped Thatcher out - she was never looked at as a girl, but a woman. MacDonald would have been a lot more fun than Thatcher, too - no Iron Lady, she.

    Name recognition. The US got to have the Roosevelts and Quincy Adams and Bushes - it'd be fun to have two MacDonalds. (Granted, the US ones were all related and a bit "dynastic", and granted also that this is irrelevant...)


    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 2:43 p.m.  

  • Gack! I forgot all about Mr. McGee.

    It's been updated,

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 10:16 p.m.  

  • Sad as I am that my own personal pick, the much malaigned James Gardiner, did not even come close to the top crew, I am rather pleased with the top leate of candidates. Now, it worries me that Mr. Douglas is in there - medicare may be well and good, but any CCF or NDP government will cause our nation to crash and burn. Lastly, I have a lot of respect for Preston Manning. I'm going to enjoy watching where this goes.


    By Blogger Matthew Naylor, at 10:09 p.m.  

  • The top 4 indicate a coming right vs. left battle. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing...

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 11:32 a.m.  

  • Wow, there is a great deal of useful information in this post!

    By Anonymous contactos en barcelona, at 5:03 a.m.  

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