Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Support of Dominic LeBlanc

Although I obviously have a soft spot for some of the candidates who didn’t run, I was always expecting this to be a three-man race and so I’ve spent the past month giving all the candidates a close look. I genuinely went into this one open-minded - it’s a very intriguing race because each of the three potential leaders is so unique, with vastly different strengths and vastly different flaws. I’ll be proud to support whichever one of the three wins this thing because they each bring so much to the table.

On one side you have the always-brilliant Michael Ignatieff who has matured as a politician so much over the past three years. I can certainly visualize him being a great Prime Minister.

On the other side you have arguably the most gifted politician in Canada today, Bob Rae. He’s experienced, he’s polished, and his Liberal credentials - doubted by some in 2006 - can no longer be questioned.

But I’ve decided to go another route. I won’t lie - Ignatieff’s position on issues I hold dear and the reaction I've seen to the words "Bob Rae" from average Ontarians played a role in my decision. But I’ve always said the problems faced by the Liberal Party run deeper than leadership so I would have had no problem sitting this race out and directing my energies elsewhere if no one caught my eye. Luckily, Dominic LeBlanc did just that.

As a 40-year-old child of the Liberal Party, Dominic understands the party and will direct his limitless energy to ensuring it’s long term health and prosperity. I know he’ll run to win the next election, as he should, but I have to respect anyone willing to admit it will take a decade to restore the party’s health. It was clear to those at the LPCO debate yesterday and to those watching it on TV, that LeBlanc understands rural Canada better than anyone else in this party and that he’s our best vehicle for making the party competitive in places where we haven’t been competitive for a long time. In addition, a lot of the party renewal suggestions he offered up were just what I’ve been waiting to hear – especially the idea of hiring young field workers to build up the party in regions of the country where we’re not currently successful.

While he’s certainly the best long-term option, I think Dominic brings skills to the table that will ensure short-term success as well. He’s fluently bilingual and an excellent communicator. Again, watching him yesterday, the man was engaging, funny, pointed, and knowledgeable - he will inject some badly needed energy and life into Canadian politics. Politics is about connecting with voters and I strongly believe LeBlanc is a leader voters will be able to relate to.

In addition to this, he also brings close to a decade of federal experience to the table, and is going to be a challenging opponent for the Tories to smear in the ten million dollar ad buy we all know is coming to a TV screen near you this May.

In short, LeBlanc is a politician of great potential, the only knocks being a lack of name recognition and a really bad haircut. But with the Liberal Party entering its third leadership race in five years, I want a leader who can guide us for a decade. With the Liberal Party desperately in need of renewal, I want a leader who understands the problems we face and is committed to finding long-term solutions - not just a quick fix.

So while my leadership endorsement may very well be the kiss of death, I offer it to Mr. LeBlanc. For any undecided Liberals out there, I would ask you to at least give the man a fair look because I suspect Dominic may surprise you.

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  • I liked the answers he gave to the debate as you reported Sunday. He was off my radar before then. But even though I'm still tilting Ignatieff, I'll wait to learn a bit more about Leblanc before deciding.

    By Blogger Victor Tremblay, at 7:52 AM  

  • I agree re: LeBlanc.

    He also has the added bonus of representing Shédiac, NB, the Lobster Capital of the World, and home of the World's Biggest Lobster.

    Take THAT, CN Tower.

    By Blogger Rob, at 8:03 AM  

  • Both Dom and Bob would be great picks.

    Not Iggy.


    By Blogger Northern PoV, at 8:13 AM  

  • You made my day! Welcome aboard!

    By Blogger whopitulia, at 9:39 AM  

  • Me too - I think LeBlanc is what the LPC needs.

    He's young, he's smart, he's young, he's not an old boy, he's not from Ontario or Quebec, he's young, and did I mention cute?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:48 AM  

  • good enough for me.

    Can you organize (if you are in touch with his camp) some forum where he can take questions from bloggers?

    By Blogger mezba, at 10:20 AM  

  • Do you know if he's agreed to do this?

    The first q I think is right up his alley, but I'd be curious to hear what he would say to all the others.

    By Anonymous M, at 11:08 AM  

  • mezba - I'm fairly sure something like that will be happening soon. I'll keep you in the loop.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:09 AM  

  • I'm strongly leaning this way. I just have too many concerns about Iggy. Frankly I think Bob Rae would make the best leader and the best PM, but I just don't think he's winnable in the current political climate. I like that Dominic understands rural issues and wasn't involved in the craziness this weekend.

    By Anonymous John D, at 11:13 AM  

  • Good post. I'm still between Michael and Dominic at this point. I just can't see us winning more than 30 seats in Ontario under Bob Rae - I know a lot of lifelong Liberal voters who wouldn't be able to bring themselves to vote for him.

    I'm leaning towards Ignatieff, if only because I know more about him and I expect he'll win. But maybe I'll hold off a bit longer to see what Dominic has to say before deciding.

    By Anonymous Markham Grit, at 12:50 PM  

  • FYI - if you go to Dominic LeBLancs web domain, official site coming soon, you can sign up for info, etc


    By Blogger whopitulia, at 2:18 PM  

  • CG, thanks. Please do. My exams are over, I will start following this leadership in earnest now, and update my political blog. Last time, we all interviewed Dion or so, and it was a very good experience.

    By Blogger mezba, at 3:10 PM  

  • They're all talented with weak points; I like Rae, but I like what I see about LeBlanc, and also, your opinion means quite a bit to me. I'm glad he's running, he'd be a good competitor against Harper and Layton.

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 3:16 PM  

  • I am interested, but my question is will the caucus support him? Are you going to end up with the same old undermining tactics from last time?

    By Blogger Gayle, at 3:16 PM  

  • I think it's generally understood that this is the last chance for Iggy and Rae, so I would expect the caucus to get behind whoever wins.

    Of course, this being the Liberal Party and all...

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:05 PM  

  • I'm genuinely excited about Dominic's opportunity to become our next Leader and ultimately our next PM.
    To borrow a line from Warren Kinsella, he's a "Heck of Guy"!
    As Canadians get to know him, they will rapidly begin to like him and become very comfortable with him.
    He can engage a new generation of Liberals.
    Don McGowan
    Oakville Ontario

    By Anonymous Don McGowan, at 5:23 PM  

  • I'm with Don above, I think Dominic will bring some new blood into the Liberal old men's club. It's about time! Perfectly bilingual too! YAY!

    By Anonymous Lisa, at 6:11 PM  

  • Goodo!

    We get a real contest. In this corner, Iggy backed by most of the caucus. In that corner, Bob backed by some of the caucus and not willing to debate. In the third corner, the kid from New Brunswick backed by ??

    I'll be watching the caucus endorsements closely. It'll be difficulty for Dominic to mobilize enough voters on the ground throughout Canada without the local machines.

    We've seen Gerard Kennedy campaign as the outsider. His results were illuminating. Can Dominc do an Obama-style campaign? Is there enough appetite for change? Tune in, good people.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:01 AM  

  • "Can Dominc do an Obama-style campaign? Is there enough appetite for change? Tune in, good people."

    Now I would normally chalk this up to jimtan being jimtan, but this notion of "run an Obama campaign!" seems to be rather widespread. I think, like the Trudeau comparison (or Kennedy comparisons) it is counterproductive. More to the point, an "Obama" campaign is not likely to work the same in a liberal leadership race.

    1. A president is not a prime minister
    -One of the main reasons I think Canada needs a Queen (or at least Governor-general) is that the roles of head of state and head of government are distinct. The head of government runs the day-to-day affairs, while the head of state is the symbol of the nation. In the US those two roles are combined, so people are sometimes elected in part because of powerful narratives of their personal story. That isn't really the case in Canada, where we have a longstanding tradition of electing doddering old men who know how to get things done. Presenting the next Liberal leader as the Canadian Obama would be like if Mark Hamill auditioned to play Obe Wan Kenobi.

    2. Canadian party leadership races are decided by a much narrower segment of the electorate than American ones.
    -In Canada no more than 1% of the public votes in the leadership races of any given party, compared to some 40 million or so voting in the Democratic primaries. Vague "yes we can" rhetoric is not likely to appeal to party hacks.

    3. The role of the American media in the rise of Obama
    -America has a shamelessly partisan press that, this time around, largely bet the farm on Obama. I suspect as well there was some reluctance to criticize Obama on some fronts for fear of the career-ending accusation of racism. Canadian journalism is far better and fairer.

    4. Fundraising is not as critical in Canadian politics.
    -Yes, the Liberals are broke and need to improve their fundraising game. However, even if you divide Obama's fundraising take by 10, to get Canadian-type numbers, you are well ahead of what you need for inter-election attack ads plus spending to the 20 million limit.

    5. The Liberal Party base is not Obama's base
    -Obama built a powerful movement by exciting the Democratic party base - particularly African Americans and young Americans. The Liberal base is ill-suited for that kind of candidate - the Liberals actually did extremely poorly among young voters, trailing the Conservatives (I do think there is a big payoff if you can pull it off). Moreover, exciting the base is not a viable strategy in a 5-party political system where voters (or at least the Southern Ontario voters who matter) largely cluster in the political centre (look at the world value survey - the median Canadian considers themselves modestly right of centre). It certainly didn't work for Dion.

    6. Harper is not Bush/was Obama successful, or were his opponents unsucessful
    -Harper was running and will run on a record that almost certainly will not be as bad as Bush's. While Obama won the 2008 election, exit polls showed that Clinton would have won by a substantially larger margin. Similarly the Democrats in congress actually did better than Obama.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 8:39 AM  

  • Well said, H2H. Don't get me wrong - I love Barack Obama and it bums me out that Canada hasn't a leader like him. But all these copycat "ideas" about imitating him or Trudeau is futile. There are ideas to steal from both of them, and from Harper and Reagan and whoever, but let LeBlanc be LeBlanc. Dreaming of him pulling a Barack Obama is sort of building expectations too high and too early, imo.

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 11:26 AM  

  • Folks, all this talk about bob and the economy is a red herring. wait for his launch. wait to see how much caucus support he picks up. and remember the stony silence from 65% of the delegates when iggy spoke in Montreal. The party is very left wing. The organizers whose jobs are on the line are all falling for the iggy is inevitable spin and the pundits are saying it willbe a crononation three months before the DSMs- which everyone knows is absurd. You'll see. MPs and ottawa based lobbyists are all trying to protect their careers by going early to the 'front runner'. But the party grassroots that votes at the DSMs aren't that self interested. You'll see.
    Remember that Rae polled way higher than Iggy in Ontario last time? right.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:11 PM  

  • "Remember that Rae polled way higher than Iggy in Ontario last time? right."

    Ontario results 2006 Liberal leadership convention

    Ignatieff: 473
    Kennedy: 429
    Rae: 278


    So he was third in the province where he used to be premier.

    Here is why the economy is a problem for Rae (I thought the Liberals should have picked them last time, as he impressed me). Rae cannot defend his own record as premier without using the global recession as a defence. In doing so the Liberals lose their greatest possible asset - tying Harper to bad economic times (in fact it may be a net negative for them, since Canada is likely to suffer less than the rest of the world, while Ontario was especially hard hit by the early 90's recession).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:43 PM  

  • And what major economies have Iggy and Leblanc governed over? Refresh my memory.

    By Blogger James Curran, at 4:56 PM  

  • Speaking of bad haircuts, what's with Iggy's eyebrow mains and someone on his staff has to get him a nose hair trimmer

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:46 PM  

  • "And what major economies have Iggy and Leblanc governed over? Refresh my memory."

    Dear Godfather,

    That Michael Corleone kid is smart and all, but he lacks experience running a crime family. I respectfully suggest that Fredo is a far more compelling replacement.


    James Tiberius (? It would be cool if it was) Curran

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:07 PM  

  • james curran - one question for you - what major economies has Barack Obama governed over??

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:49 PM  

  • The party is very left wing.

    Biggest reason for the recent loss. Are you going to repeat that mistake?

    By Blogger Möbius, at 7:36 PM  

  • I happen to think Rae would be the best leader. And I'm a centrist liberal, and an executive in the business community.
    the formula is this: campaign from the left, govern from the centre.

    I am still positive i would take Rae with all the somsonite pieces, over Iggnatieff and the stupid things he is inevitably going to say over the next six months.
    I've seen him up close- he's has the same problem DIon had (but to a lesser degree)-he has disdain for politics and thinks he can change the methodology. That's dangerous.

    But hey! don;t believe the hype- I think most people in the party could live with any of the three, which is a far cry from last time when Volpe and Hedy fry were delusional enough to try.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:45 PM  

  • James Curran, your intellect and debating skill both often overwhelm me.

    By Anonymous bo green, at 3:45 PM  

  • I am from Ontario and I agree with the notion that "Rae can be proud of his 'baggage'".

    "Rae decided to put aside his personal political interests and stand up for the people of Ontario... He fought hard and alone against Ottawa and the unions."


    Also, I believe that Rae has other strengths:

    "1. Bob is a principled man with a strong grasp of all major policy issues.
    2. Bob has a great deal of integrity as he's demonstrated in his long career in Canadian public life.
    3. Bob is a natural born politician with a great sense of humour, fantastic people skills - he does well in any crowd in both official languages. And he kicks @ss in the House.
    4. Bob is the only candidate who can unite both the party and bring in people from other parties."


    Lets face it: between the national post and Canada's equivalent of Rush Limbaugh muddying the waters, Albertan Conservatives aren't going to be switching allegiances any time soon. "We" need a real leader who has bankable strengths, and can convince NDP'ers to jump shift for the good of "our" country.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:13 PM  

  • Wait a second...

    look at the world value survey - the median Canadian considers themselves modestly right of centre

    Compared to who? Sweden?

    And considering American self-identification has little to do with American political policy positions (self-declared "conservatives" regularly support various concepts and policies that are firmly liberal), I'm not sure why Canadian self-identification as "right of center" would even mean anything were it true.

    Yes, most voters are in the center. By definition. The "center" is wherever the majority of people believe it is, which is why moving the Overton Window by changing the national discourse is so effective. The question is whether their "center" is closer to the philosophy and policies of one party vs. another, and nobody's been able to clearly state who that party is, and why.

    (Certainly not with the progressive vote split up like it is.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 4:16 PM  

  • Ignatieff's web site is most actively campaigning but seems somehow flat. (I can't get past that he thought Canada should have invaded Iraq & he's supposed to be smart.) Bob Rae has an enthusiastic web site which makes you want to read it. LeBlanc has no web campaign - at all. He says it's on the way, but it needs to be up now, sophisticated, enthusiasic, inspiring and roaring (complete with a good haircut picture!) These web sites create an impressions which stick.
    They sure would all appreciate financial back-up, in order to get their words out every way they can.
    We really need to be shaken up, inspired and moved enough to get rid of the autocratic, self-serving Harper & his crowd. I don't think Ignatieff has passion and guts. Looks like Rae might. So far, I can't tell if LeBlanc does. I believe Canadians want to see enthusiasm, passion and guts along with great ideas. If the Liberals have an inspiring leader, they'll be very happy to dump Harper. Too bad "Yes we can" is not available any more.

    By Blogger Sidney, at 5:54 AM  

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