Friday, September 29, 2006

In Support of Gerard Kennedy

First of all, let me say that this has been an exciting, clean race that I’ve enjoyed a hundred times more than the last leadership “race”. Despite some high profile no-shows, there's a varied and talented pool of candidates running and I’ll have no problem supporting the last one standing come December 2nd. There’s a lot of good to be said about all the candidates in this race. As Liberals - men and women, young and old, dead and living - head off to the polls this weekend I think I’ll take this moment to say a lot of good about one candidate in particular. (guess who?)

Gerard Kennedy caught my eye early on in this race. What can I say – it was love at first wikipedia search. But looking good on paper is one thing – a leader needs to have the presence, confidence, experience, and ideas necessary to lead. After meeting Gerard a few times, I was convinced he possessed these qualities and I outlined some of my reasons for supporting him back in April. But April seems like a long time ago and I’d like to re-emphasize why I’ll be proudly voting for Gerard Kennedy this weekend.

For me, it comes down to what's required for the Liberal Party right now, in 2006. And this party needs three things (four if you count a new logo). Firstly, this party needs to come together and rebuild itself. Anyone who tells you that things are all hunky dory in Liberal land is seriously disconnected from reality (and not just because they’re saying things like “hunky dory”). Secondly, the party needs a clear purpose and vision. When asked “what does the Liberal Party stand for?” members need to be able to say something other than “to win elections”. Thirdly, we need to win elections. All three of these ideas are tied together and it’s going to take some effort from all Liberals to get there. The leader can only do so much but the leader is still the vehicle which will be used to reach this destination and this party needs a leader who can deliver on all three counts.

The Chretien/Martin wars tore this party apart and a house divided on itself cannot stand. In less poetic terms: GET OVER IT! Seriously. The last thing this party needs is Eddie Goldenberg opening up old wounds. Luckily, there aren’t any Capulets or Montagues running in this race. Candidates like Allan Rock did the right thing by declining to run and the Board did the right thing by staying on the sidelines. Liberals desire a fresh start and Kennedy would be a new face at the helm who represents a new beginning for the party. Gerard has run a positive campaign and would be an easy leader for all Liberals to rally around, should he come out on top. I’ve heard a lot of Liberals say “I can’t stand X”, “I won’t support Y”, “I won’t vote Liberal if Z wins”, but I haven’t heard anyone say that about Kennedy (to my face at least…).

As for the actual renewal of the Liberal Party, no one has talked about it more and no one is better suited to bring it into being. Kennedy is committed to engaging the grass roots and of curbing the powers of the PMO (or…I guess for the time being, the OLO). This party will not fix itself overnight and the job of party leader is a decade long commitment. Gerard Kennedy is a lifelong Liberal who understands this party and he will give the next decade of his life to the Liberal Party, win or lose.

Part of the renewal of the party is about finding out what Liberals believe in. We need a leader who believes in more than winning elections and who presents a vision Liberals can be proud of. On Afghanistan, Gerard has spoken out about a practical and principled solution to a complex problem. He’s put forward a critically acclaimed immigration platform. He’s the only candidate talking about education – probably the best investment any government can make. He’s laid out firm numbers, pledging to spend 0.7% of our GDP on early learning and child development. Rather than pledging tokenism, he’s suggested ways to improve the economic situation of women in this country. And, yes, like every single candidate in this race, Gerard has made it clear he likes the environment. While he hasn’t gotten as much media attention as others, Kennedy has been quietly running an ideas based campaign. He’s put forward the framework of a platform with substance which all Liberals can rally behind.

Obviously, having a strong Liberal Party with a clear vision will help us win elections. But the sad reality of politics is that ideas alone will never rule the day. Especially when you’re opposing a calculating and competent government. This party needs a leader who can win elections. Kennedy comes free of baggage. He’s not at all connected to Adscam and it’s very hard to run attack adds against “the food bank guy” ("Food...for the our Canada...We're not making this up"). If I were a Tory strategist, I could think of great lines of attack to use against most of the candidates in this field but I’d have a hard time finding something to stick on Gerard (and, in fairness, going after Dryden or Findlay would be just as difficult). Some will say that not having scars means you haven’t fought the battles but even if he’s a rookie on the federal scene, he’s far from an amateur. This is a political veteran with over a decade of experience in elected politics. He’s performed well as education minister and has enjoyed fantastic electoral success in a riding which isn’t traditionally a Liberal stronghold. Whether politics is a vocation or a skill, it’s hard to deny that experience matters. Kennedy chooses his words well, communicates effectively, and knows how to handle the pressure of an election campaign.

Finally, as a Western Liberal, I must add that Kennedy's deep roots in the West appeal strongly to me. The Liberal Party has never had a Western born leader and it's been a long time since the party made a serious effort to reach out to the West. Say what you will about winning back Quebec, but there are a lot more seats to be won out West than in La Belle Province where the Liberals have average a mere 20 seats over the last 7 elections and 20 years. With a united right, it is impossible for this party to win a majority government without a Western breakthrough. Having lived over half his life in Western Canada, Gerard understands this and his opposition to a carbon tax and support of the enterprise principle shows he's commited to making a Western breakthrough a top priority.

Gerard Kennedy is man who has helped those less fortunate his entire life. He’s in politics for the right reasons and, just as I knew it in April, I know today that he’s the right man to lead this party at this crucial time in its history.


  • In a long race, with personal high views and low views of each candidate, I've been low on Kennedy and high on Kennedy, and in the end, you may have perhaps sold him to me with tha G&M article you linked to a short while ago that said he's not fit to be PM, but he's fit to be Opposition Leader a while and grow more suited to the PMO. That really made me think, and you know - I think they/you may just be right, Bart.

    I have to say, I think - just top of my head - Jason "You could just read his books if you weren't so lazy" Townsend has done a poor job of pumping Ignatieff and Cherniak "I'm a sleazy ambulance chaser" On Politics has done a lousy job of pimping Dion. I don't think I read any Rae-endorsing blogs, now that I think about it. But you've been fair all around - you've made jabs at others, but they were always fun, bbq-type banter jokes, and not mean-spirited or intended for political gain. If I had to suddenly select one of these candidates to be PM based purely on their blogger endorsements, it would be Kennedy -- you've put up the best and most sincere and most honest, and least condescending (in fact, not at all condescending) fight. You've been by far and away the most honest, least disparaging, and all around coolest guy on the blog scene to endorse a candidate. You've also done hands down the best job of covering the race so far - and I'm sure will be the best still when it's over. So thanks for being such - as the current buzzword goes - an honest broker. You rock the house, man.

    What I want to see is a tough choice at the little cardboard screen - a decision between two Leaders that is challenging because both have good goals and aims, and integrity and sincerity. Whoever the Liberals vote for as their Leader, I hope they go with those criteria - aims, goals, integrity, and sincerity - rather than who can win them back power.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:37 p.m.  

  • Oh, I almost forgot - Martha Hall Findlay for Liberal Leader!

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 1:39 p.m.  


    See my endorsement of Gerard here.

    By Blogger nbpolitico, at 2:04 p.m.  

  • I think you make an important point about a positive campaign. There have been several instances wherein Kennedy could have scored easy political points by jumping on an opponent when on the defensive. Everytime, Kennedy chose the high road, sometimes even defending the perceived gaffes, which speaks volumes about character and what kind of leader he would be.

    By Blogger Steve V, at 2:11 p.m.  

  • jason; thanks.

    I totally need to do a post on why Martha Hall Findlay rocks some time. She's really been a bright spot in this race.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:12 p.m.  

  • Gerard's French is rapidly improving. I saw him chatting in French with a few people here in Saskatoon. My own french is horrible so I may not be the best judge but it sounds much better, and the people he was speaking too were nodding away--obviously understanding what he was saying.

    I think thats whats really important.

    By Blogger KC, at 2:42 p.m.  

  • CG,

    concur. nice pimp for Kennedy. Jason bo Green sums it up nicely.
    the french part does kill Kennedy's chances.

    so will you finally answer my question:

    does Kennedy go to Iggy??? :)

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 3:12 p.m.  

  • "I've been saying for months that Liberal leaders are held to a higher standard than Tory leaders in Quebec when it comes to ability to speak French."

    yes, Mulroney was really let off the hook for his terrible french.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 3:13 p.m.  

  • French is an easy language (less complicated rules and exceptions) that someone like Kennedy can easily learn well enough to debate, in a month.

    to paraphrase Dean,

    'Hi I am Kennedy and I represent the liberal wing of the Liberal party'.

    By Blogger mezba, at 3:22 p.m.  

  • chucker; I think it would be foolish of any of the four contenders to think about where they might go on the last ballot should they not win. I'm hoping Iggy will walk over to Gerard ;-)

    herb; Gerard's French is his only real weakness in my opinion - I'll admit that much. His French isn't awful and so long as he gives a real effort to practicing it (which should be too hard given his wife is a francophone), he should be up to Harper's level before long.

    I tend to think most in English Canada don't hold Chretien or Dion's weak English against them so I don't see why Quebecers wouldn't look past his French if it's at a decent level.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:35 p.m.  

  • Parkdale-High Park is a traditionally Liberal riding (though historically a bit of a bellwether), for the record. Its becoming Dipperland is a recent event - the result of gentrification (young urban professionals moving in, old working class eastern Europeans dying/their kids moving to Etobicoke).

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:55 p.m.  

  • Hosertohoosier - I think CG was refering to the provincial history of York South which Gerard won in 1996 the first time it had ever gone Liberal.

    By Blogger nbpolitico, at 5:36 p.m.  

  • Nice post. I like Kennedy. If I'm there, and Kennedy's on the ballot when Ignatieff isn't, I'll be listening hard to people like you.

    But let me point this out, because it irritates me.

    "his opposition to a carbon tax ... shows he's commited to making a Western breakthrough a top priority"

    But you like the carbon tax. At least that's what you said here.

    No candidate is perfect, and we're all going to disagree with some aspect of our candidates' positions. I know I have. But to take something you don't agree with and paint it as a way of winning the votes of people who presumably don't share your values? That is putting winning ahead of principle, which is what you say the party needs to get away from. Isn't it?

    If what the west needs before it will elect a liberal is a liberal leader who is unwilling to ask of westerners what is required to preserve our environment for future generations, then I don't want seats in the west.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 6:52 p.m.  

  • Hear Here! Kennedy will be a great Liberal Party Leader!

    By Blogger Harrap, at 7:52 p.m.  

  • Gauntlet; There are a lot of policies I like which I think it would be a mistake to put into place. Quite honestly, I don't see a problem with legalized pot or prostitution but I don't think it should be in the Liberal platform next election.

    I really think this party needs a Western breakthrough if it wants to prosper in the 20th century. And doing measures which will only alienate the west won't help with that. There are a lot of other ways to cut emisions without going to a carbon tax

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:12 p.m.  

  • please, don't just legalize prostitution, promise to nationalize it. we could get some economies of scale by having the government facilty operate as a daycare between 7am and 7 pm, then turn over the place to government-run match-up points where johns meet bureaucrats with the position of federal prostitute. 24 hour use of our investment - that's asset productivity right there.

    By Blogger Tarkwell Robotico, at 9:58 p.m.  

  • While I agree Kennedy is the best long-term choice for the Liberals, I have reservations about about one thing..what about his dropping out of university?

    His French he can work on, but in this day can you really have a western leader that isn't university educated?

    By Blogger JL, at 10:38 p.m.  

  • Dropping out of university to go work at a food bank sounds good to me. Does anyone doubt Kennedy's intelligence, or the fact that the "dropout" was education minister? A complete non-issue in my mind, and frankly elitist to look down on Kennedy for choosing the practical, as opposed to the bubble of theoretical that is higher education.

    By Blogger Steve V, at 10:02 a.m.  

  • Hmm... drop-outs like Kennedy and Bill Gates, or a Yale graduate like George Bush.

    Completing a degree is no indication that you're not a moron.

    I have some serious reservations about Kennedy (indeed, about all the candidates), but that one's a complete non-issue.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 11:21 a.m.  

  • This has been talked about pretty much all year, but no one's said better than,

    Completing a degree is no indication that you're not a moron.

    I have a big reservation about his dropping out - not about how it affects his qualifications, but how people will spin it come an election against him.

    But - I do think one should go for "best" and not "most electable". I wouldn't base my personal choice on his degree.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:36 a.m.  

  • Thanks Jason. Needless to say, I'm also a university drop-out!

    It really can't be used against him in a campaign. There's at least one Conservative cabinet minister who dropped out twice and millions of Canadians who either dropped out or never had the opportunity to go in the first place.

    There would be much less risky things to attack him with if he became leader.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 3:54 p.m.  

  • Too bad your blog isn't up, RB - Reality Always Bites Back is an excellent name for one.

    I guess you guys have a real point, actually - how risky it would be to sound elitist to the people who don't have degrees (I'm one).

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 4:11 p.m.  

  • Climate change will devastate Canada, probably more than any other country.

    I'm not arguing with you or minimizing your (good) points when I say: If science is right about climate change, then you'll be happy to be here and not in Europe, which they estimate could freeze over to make Paris the new Moscow and London the new Anchorage.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 7:52 p.m.  

  • I never said it would be great or even nice. I'm just saying that you're very very wrong to say that Canada is more at risk than other countries. And you are wrong. That doesn't mean we shouldn't be very concerned and examining every possible solution.

    By Blogger Jacques Beau Vert, at 11:32 a.m.  

  • It's not so much that voters in Quebec didn't like Gerard Kennedy in particular... they just didn't like Liberals in general.

    By Blogger Neo Conservative, at 11:52 a.m.  

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