Thursday, January 26, 2006

No Marathon

John Manley becomes the first high profile candidate to take a pass at the Liberal leadership, for personal reasons.


I had all but decided to support John for leadership this time around. Yes, yes, I know the prospect of a Harper-Manley debate is enough to put you to sleep just thinking about it, but if Harper has shown us anything, it’s that substance trumps style every day. John Manley was exactly the kind of person the Liberals needed – experienced, proven, consistent, and impeccably clean on the ethics front. I don’t know a more ethical politician out there and Manley is someone who would never get a “Mr. Dithers” label. I also happened to agree with him on a lot of policy specifics and on his overall vision of Canada, so supporting John just made sense to me.

Here’s a quote from the New York Times October 27th, 1993:

The Conservative Party derided him as "yesterday's man" because he faithfully served Prime Ministers Lester B. Pearson, Pierre Elliott Trudeau and John N. Turner. But by placing today's problems in the hands of Jean Chretien, who will become the country's next Prime Minister, Canada's voters said experience must count for something.

There’s no doubt in my mind that John Manley would have been the right person to rebuild the Liberal Party.

So, with him dropping out, I’ve decided to endorse Joe Volpe.

Just Kidding.

No, I’m going to play very close attention to the field over the next couple of weeks. Tobin and Brison are charismatic, but I wonder if the substance is there. I like Martin Cauchon but worry about the Adscam/Chretien cloud. I like Ignatieff but am absolutely petrified by his lack of experience in politics, and in Canada. I’m a HUGE Stephane Dion fan but wonder if he’ll have the organization to actually win. Gerard Kennedy sounds too good to be true, but I know next to nothing about the guy.

My only hope is that we get a long, fair race with a lot of candidates to choose from.


  • CalgaryGrit,

    What do you think about a Westener with a long record of acheivment like Llyod Azworthy who also represents the progressive side of the party?

    I threw his name out earlier today as more of a lark, but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I would much rather have Llyod representing the Left-Liberals in the leadership race over someone like Copps, who just harms us and makes the Left-Liberals easier to ignore.

    Pearson won the Noble Prize.

    Azworthy was nominated, close enough?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:27 a.m.  

  • I loved Lloyd Axworthy.

    But he's 66.

    I don't see any strong Western Candidates out there. Anne couldn't win her province. Emerson is too old. Dosanj would be a disaster, Alcock lost his seat, Goodale had a terrible year.

    Kennedy is a left-leaner with western roots which sounds good on paper but, like I said, I know nothing about him.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:18 a.m.  

  • And what are your thoughts about McKenna? You seemed to have somehow missed the frontrunner with your snippet summaries.

    Seriously, though, I think we Liberal bloggers need to actually start talking about him in more detail - positives and negatives. One of the problems with Martin is that he had such a lock on the leadership that no one ever got to really press him on some of the question marks that had been raised already by others. Even if it becomes a foregone conclusion that McKenna takes it - and currently it is far from that - bloggers can play an important role in the vetting process by pressing those issues. How much is he in the centre and not on the left or right? What were his successes in NB? Seems to me it was a great rebuilding effort of both the provincial party and the province. Some useful skills for now. But we can't afford to choose based upon some sort of mystique the way we did with Martin.

    Same goes for all of the candidates. Picking anyone just to not have McKenna would be worse in my view.

    Plus, if a candidate can't stand up to the scrutiny of his own bloggers, then he or she will be mercilessly crucified by the Blogging Tories.

    There is a lot of talk about McKenna's positioning, just as there was a lot of talk about Martin's strategy instead of policy. We can't make that mistake again. I for one think McKenna will only look like a stronger candidate with closer scrutiny, but we have to start talking details here.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 2:19 a.m.  

  • I've seen Axworthy speak at the University of Manitoba twice in recent years and age didn't seem to be any kind of factor. He also certainly doesn't look his age.

    By Blogger Dan McKenzie, at 2:30 a.m.  

  • CalgaryGrit,

    I do not think that the liberals should be promoting this leadership race too loudly right now. It will take far too much attention away from the Conservatives. The race was lost. Now is the time to stand back, shut up and watch very closely. Build the party back up quietly but efficiently. Take your time. Do it right. Hand over the reigns of power to the conservatives and I am certain, given time, they will strangle themselves.

    By Blogger Blog W.C. Hitmen, at 2:36 a.m.  

  • You want details on McKenna? He's a member of George Bush's powerful Carlyle consulting group.

    The Bush administration is in power for another 2 years. The Liberal leadership convention comes within 1 year, and another election within 2. Those on the left will crucify McKenna during that time for his connections to the Bush administration and the American elite.

    If you pick McKenna, say good-bye to those urban left-wing voters you need to win back and stop bleeding to the NDP.

    By Blogger Simon Pole, at 3:00 a.m.  

  • we didn't know Trudeau when he came to power..had very little experience in power. I would like to know more about Michael Ignitieff..he is smart, intelligent and perhaps has a whole different vision for Canada. I don't think you had to have held a seat to have a vision for Canada.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:02 a.m.  

  • While we're talking Axworthys, what about Thomas Axworthy? (I assume, perhaps wrongly, that Lloyd and Thomas are related?)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:27 a.m.  

  • I'm a Conservative, and I like McKenna. He's a good salesman for investment and economic development. He's committed to sound budgets. He understands the problems of the Maritimes. Plus, as Premier of New Brunswick, he fought against funding the Morgentaler clinic.

    I'd certainly want to look carefully at McKenna then if I were a Liberal. He could win the votes of many Canadians, but he may not suit Liberal principles or activists.

    Although Manley performed well in office, I could never vote for him or a party he leads because John Manley is a republican.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:04 a.m.  

  • McKenna is also me that's kind of a litmus test to be Leader of the party...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:46 a.m.  

  • C.G

    check out

    There are some pictures of Mr. Kennedy at a BBQ in High Park. Unlike someone we know he actually seem happy and comfortable at the event.

    The site also gives you contact information for Mr. Kennedy office.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:36 a.m.  

  • Depends on expectations.

    If the Liberals think that the Conservatives are just keeping the seats warm then they'll go with a tactical plugged-in choice like McKenna. This will make the former Team Martin very happy.

    It is exactly the wrong thing to do.

    This would be the choice of the extended tentacles of Team Martin, who still control the ridings and the process. They get to save their skins and remain in control.

    Choices like Ignatieff or Kennedy make the assumption that Harper doesn't screw up and either scores a majority or limps along very well for six to ten years. Each would need time to grow into their jobs, and pretty well everyone that is in positions of control in the party would have to be replaced.

    Ignatieff has to get his local feelers out and develop a stronger sense of place. Kennedy is about as well known as a pre-leadership Jack Layton.

    The Liberals need to go through a political bankruptcy and a total restructuring if they want real change. This is what happened on the right.

    If McKenna gets railroaded in using the Martin machine it will be more of the same, with a new boss.

    If so they will head into decline.

    This could very well bring about the rise of the NDP as the moderate-left safe Mr. Clean party while the Conservatives continue to hog the middle. The NDP went through a voluntary restructuring, the absense of Buzz Hargrove is but one sign of that.

    It took two generations for the Liberals in the UK to wither on the vine. The entrenched apparatus didn't have adaptation in their DNA.
    It couldn't be done. The same seems to be looming for Canada's Liberals.

    By Blogger Michael, at 9:03 a.m.  

  • Ignatieff is a carpetbagger and a Bush apologist. If he wins the Liberal leadership race, I guarantee you I will be voting NDP in the next election, regardless of how unstrategic that may be.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:07 a.m.  

  • Sorry CG, but I couldn't disagree with you more on Manley.

    I also wrote about him today, but instead of lamenting his decision, I cheered.

    He sold himself and Canada down the river very prominently last spring:

    and would have had no leg to stand on regarding Canadian sovereignty (amongst a million other issues).

    He knew what he was in for if he entered the race.

    By Blogger TDH Strategies, at 9:24 a.m.  

  • The bigger problem Manley had is he really alienated most of his core supporters when he dropped out of the race last time around and almost all of his organisers have moved on to Ignatieff or Kennedy. It's tough to run a leadership race by yourself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:28 a.m.  

  • Once Warren said he was done, there was no doubt in my mind. Manley was Kinsella's guy.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 9:32 a.m.  

  • Micheal, are you talking about a party that despite being plagued by scandal and a disastrous campaign still won 103 seats and came with in 11 swing seats of forming government?

    You think that is weakness? I believe it shows that despite inept leadership, the Liberal brand name and the Big Red Machine are very robust. We may very well be seeing what the LPC looks like at its weakest. The fact that a more moderate Conservative party barely beat these clowns should scare the crap out of conservatives (small “c” true blue conservatives in particular).

    How many teary eyed Liberals do you see? Seen any threatening separation, whining, or even looking depressed?

    Liberals, grassroots all the way up to the leadership are already gunning for another fight.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:34 a.m.  

  • I told you guys long back he is not running. so is Tobin. Dion would be a cool candidate like Gerad, but both are non starters. As, I had mentioned in the comments section of my blog, Gerad, won't even secure his own riding(fed). It's already taken, unless he can sign up 20,000 new members. I would encourage Gerad to run for a fed seat and run at the next leadership.

    Axworthy, I can imagine atleast imagine Tom, but not Lloyd. I don't even think he is considering helping any candidate, He is done and out.

    Intrestingly most candidates are interested or worried about blogospehere and don't think it can influence them. I'm going to lay my bets on McK, Iggy and Cauchon, the three most organized and well funded candidates. My gut feeling is that Cauchon won't finish the race and I know he is no fan of McK, so he might endorse Iggy, but then nothing is garaunteed in politics. Coderre is another character, who is unpredictable. He also is no fan of McK. Chretien era libs can change the dynamics of this race, esp after this election results. While McK came as the hottest candidate until recently, but I hear that the dynamics are changing and wind the moveing away from McK. Bev,Cau, coderre, Anne, Dosanjh may all gang up against McK and support Iggy or another candidate. Too early to predict.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:57 a.m.  

  • This is my great worry - that the Board...sorry, the grass roots will think that the Libs didn't get totally wiped out, that it was all the old man's fault and all we need is a new leader, maybe a fresh coat of paint and all will be good again. Garbage.

    Dithers has damaged the party, the brand is on life support and even Liberals have no idea what we stand for anymore. If you think that McKenna and 6 months will change that then you are pushing the party towards a decade in opposition.

    The Liberal needs a generation shift, a soul searching, and to decide what it wants to stand for going forward. Anything short of that would be a huge mistake.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:00 a.m.  

  • errata- "Intrestingly most candidates are interested or worried about blogospehere and don't think it can influence them."

    should read " Interestingly most candidates are not interested or worried that discussions in the blogosphere can influence their leadership, unlike regular elections"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:01 a.m.  

  • I'm with TDH on this - I was never a Manley fan. I'm not crazy about McKenna, but he'd do well to work at making this a fair fight. If he wins due to the machinations of the Martin team, we're in trouble.
    I like Kennedy, having met him, but he's got a huge job to get his name out. Neither McKenna nor Kennedy have federal experience or a seat.

    Ignatieff at least has a seat now, and so we will be able to see how he performs in Parliament. His stance on the war is a problem, for the party, but its silly to call him a Bush apologist; there are principled positions on both sides of this issue, and he happens to hold one on the other side.

    As for Dion, well, if all the people who like him, but are worried about his game on the ground, got on his team, he'd have a game on the ground. Maybe I'm in an echo chamber, but it seems the more his name is thrown in, the more often I see people nodding their heads.

    Right now, I'm thinking there will be a final ballot between Dion, Mckenna, and Ignatieff, with Dion and Ignatieff teaming up to support whoever's higher to knock of McKenna. And I'm hoping, we have a good, 5 or 6 ballot convention.

    By Blogger Fiddlers' Green, at 10:06 a.m.  

  • I'm a politically active former and future Liberal (my membership expired and I didn't bother top renew it while Martin's thugs were running the show) and I'm really hoping that Brian Tobin runs. I could never support Iggy because of his support of the war in Iraq. I would find it very hard to back Manley because I think that kind of religion in politics is dangerous. If someone can confirm (with source) that McKenna is pro-life, that would prevent me from supporting him, and Belinda was too recently a member of another party for me to actively back her. Which brings me right back to Brian Tobin. I think he is a good and decent man, and I haven't heard anything about him that would prevent me from carrying his flag. If Tobin doesn't run? I'm not sure what I'll do. Probably vote NDP again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:14 a.m.  

  • How about John Tory running for the leadership?

    It sure would make some heads explode. Jim Flaherty would instantly go insane.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:22 a.m.  

  • "How about John Tory running for the leadership?"

    I don't know that the Libs are ready for such a left-wing leader.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:27 a.m.  

  • Vijay,

    Please read

    to get your facts straight. Sarmite lost the riding to the NDP. Not Gerard. His riding is in the city of Toronto, not Scarborough. He won by over 10,000 last time. Alberta, Manitoba, Toronto, and teachers are on his side to start.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:42 a.m.  

  • Peter,
    My appologies, I was mixing Gerry's riding with Gerard. There are three top candidates for that riding including Gerard. I had blogged on it the night results were out. I think Gerard can win the nomination there. if he decideds to run atleast one will drop out, no Sam was not in my list:)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:54 a.m.  

  • Steve has it partly right. But it wasn't just Martin and the Board who blew it. There is a more fundamental loss of vision and energy within the party. We got really good at getting elected, but we lost sight of the need to convince people why they should be voting for Liberals rather than just against the Conservatives. The surge of support for Martin from across the land from 2001 to 2004 was from a population of voters who did indeed want change, who saw the Liberal brand as tired, past its due date. Martin couldn't deliver that change and suffered the backlash that was coming. Maybe made it worse, I don't know, but Canadians wanted something new. That's why there is bleeding to the left and the right.

    The Liberal victory in 2004 was like the Montreal Canadiens in 1979. Sure they won the cup, but only because the Islanders screwed up in the semi-finals. As (ironically) Ken Dryden put it in his great hockey book "The Game", there was a sense that the legacy was over even before it was over. They lucked out in 1979 and thought the dynasty was still on solid ground rather than trying to rebuild before it was really too late. (Carrying the metaphor way too far, that would make Martin, the great hope for the future upon which all hopes were hung, Doug Wickenheiser-like - a huge disappointment that everyone blamed for the failures in the early 1980s but not the core of the problem with the team.)

    Harper was smart enough to jump on board the "change" train, but Canadians were reluctant to embrace his version of change. We have an opportunity to fundamentally re-build, re-generate. We must move beyond Trudeau in fact; that is to say, we have to stop using Trudeau as shorthand for Liberal values because this is a different Canada today and simply relying on and trying to attach the "brand" to someone else's vision isn't going to be good enough. Even if you accept Trudeau's vision, it needs to be re-articulated and re-applied. I'm not sold on Ignatieff (yet? we need to know more about what he would do as leader), but listening to his speech at the 2004 convention is the kind of re-thinking of strong nationalist federal government that I'm talking about. That kind of articulation of ideas needs to start. And above all, we need to get beyond slogans like "Trudeau values", "Liberal values", "no two tier health care", "rights" and actually articulate what we mean by those because there is a disconnect with the general population and they aren't so sure what we mean by those words anymore.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 11:00 a.m.  

  • "Progressives" = moral regressives?

    Anyways, Bilenda is the perfect choice for the Liberal Party. Light on substance, heavy on elitist, and is all style.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:07 a.m.  

  • Vijay,

    Thanks for the explanation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:13 a.m.  

  • Cerberus reminded there a copy of Ignatieff's speech anywhere? There was as crystal clear an articulation of fundamental Liberal principles I have ever heard. It would be nice to see a copy somewhere.

    By Blogger Fiddlers' Green, at 11:16 a.m.  

  • Dion.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 a.m.  

  • Convention speech is here.


    "As you begin your conference, I'm not here to tell you something new. I'm here to remind you of something you've always known: the fundamentals of Liberal belief. I'm not going to talk about programs and policies. We talk too much about them, frankly, and not enough about the fundamentals.
    As I see it, the Liberal party has three essential purposes:
    " To protect and enhance our national unity
    " To preserve and defend our national sovereignty
    " To advance the cause of social justice."

    "Our core commitment is to stand by the common standards and national programs that make us one nation. We don't defend federal power for its own sake. We all know that Canada is too big to be run from Ottawa. I certainly learned that when I lived for two years in BC. We Liberals stand for a strong federal government-not to feed the Ottawa bureaucracy, not to dominate the regions-but to defend the indivisibility of Canadian citizenship. That means that each Canadian citizen, wherever she may come from, wherever he may live, has the same rights, responsibilities and entitlements. Common citizenship means national programs, standards, rights and responsibilities that define us as Canadians and maintain our distinctiveness as a free people."

    "Provinces in the rest of Canada are beginning to ask why they should keep paying out to help less prosperous ones. They want to reduce their transfer payments, essentially keeping their wealth to themselves. The Liberal answer to these demands is that without burden-sharing and resource-sharing, there cannot be equality of Canadian citizenship.
    Provinces are now complaining about a fiscal imbalance between a cash-rich federal government and cash-strapped provincial governments. Let's address that imbalance, but not by weakening federal authority or diluting national standards of common citizenship. As federal Liberals, we say YES to strong provinces. But we say NO to a balkanized Canada, un chacun pour soi Canada, in which the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. We stand for One country, Not ten. Un seul pays et non dix entités rivales."

    "People sometimes ask me why a human rights teacher is such an adamant defender of a robust military for Canada. In the failed and failing states of our world, the most urgent human need-the central unmet human right-is security. People at the mercy of tyrants and gunmen need protection, first of all. To protect them, we have to have the capacity to fire back. We do not want to repeat Rwanda, when a brave Canadian soldier, Romeo Dallaire, was sent out on a UN mission to protect civilians, without the arms, equipment and troops to stop the slaughter in front of his eyes. We owe this to our men and women in uniform. We owe this to our moral commitment to be citizens of the world. "

    And there is more, but I don't want to take up CG's comments section with quotes when you go read that "values statement". I think the thing that excites people about Ignatieff is that, like in that speech, he is not afraid to articulate clearly and proudly what he means by "Liberal Values" and give examples of what him means and how that those values might get implemented into policy. Not everyone is going to agree with that implementation, but it is just so damn refreshing to hear someone unafraid to articulate controversial opinions without the usual political equivocations of a politician. He's not afraid of talking about big ideas and new directions which are rooted in what he views as the fundamentals of being a Liberal.

    Every Liberal should read that speech because I want us all, especially bloggers, to press the candidates for similar statements and to press them on detailed policy positions that might come out of those statements.

    That's the kind of discussion we need. Sloganeering and vague platitudes by the candidates cannot be allowed to go unquestioned. But similarly, rhetorical criticisms can't be left unchallenged. Saying someone is unfit simply because they have a relationship of some sort with a group of companies that the Bush family has a close relationship with is a ridiculous criticism: what did McKenna do exactly that is objectionable? Calling Ignatieff a Bush apologist is also moronically simplistic regardless of whether he is a supporter of Bush or not (it's also wrong since he is not a supporter of Bush, he happens to support the war in Iraq just like he wanted to go into Rwanda for very different reasons). Saying Kennedy is "too left" is equally simplistic. Why is he so? More importantly, what positions exactly are left or too left? Trying to smear someone with a simplistic "Bush" or "right/left" labels (or Martinite/Chretienite labels) will not get the kind of discussion and rejuvenation that we need. Bloggers in particular have to be better at getting to the detail so we can all judge each of them fairly, fully and accurately.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 12:13 p.m.  

  • Belinda will win, for sure. Apparently she has a french tutor round the clock and can now order poutine and diet coke with relative ease.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:24 p.m.  

  • Folks, Martin's "board" still controls the party, which only has one direction for power and communication, top-down, and McKenna is the Chosen One.

    It will take hard work to take the party back from those who 'corporatized' it, starting with more than reminding ourselves about our values. The way we lost credibility is not from having forgotten our values, our values have been marketed to death: we lost the crucial swing voter because we are perceived to be all ad-hoc promise and no delivery.

    We still have a strong, core base, but a crucial center swing vote has decided we've become phony.

    We have to take back the party from the corporatistas.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:31 p.m.  

  • " Once Warren said he was done, there was no doubt in my mind. Manley was Kinsella's guy. "

    Wow, I actually agree with Cherniak on something. I agree, Kinsella's deep into the McGuinty/Manley/Ottawa group.

    As a non-Liberal, I like Manley more than Paul Martin. I think he coulda been a contender

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 12:53 p.m.  

  • TDH; Manley's US ties aren't radical. It makes sense to share security info for stuff like terrorism. A lot of people are downright scared of anything American but we're still 1/100th as integrated as the US as the EU countries are. And people in France and Spain are secure enough in themselves to not worry about their culture eroding.

    Cerebus; McKenna worries me. I really wanted to like the guy because he's the frontrunner so I've been reading up on him over the past month quite a bit. The thing is...he comes across as a John Kerry/Paul Martin clone. Steve McKinnon talks about "Campaign Frank" and "Premier Frank" as if they were two different people. His Meech Lake position is more confusing than Kerry's Iraq position. And you can ask his supporters what he accomplished in NB besides winning every seat and they'll draw blanks. I'm not rulling him out outright, but what I've read about him so far leaves me a little underwhelmed.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:06 p.m.  

  • Hasn't McKenna declined the help of "The Board"? He's obviously running, but I suspect he won't let Martin's inner circle into his campaign.

    As for Manley, I've met him a few times (I even briefly worked in his office a few years ago), and I've never been very impressed by him. He projects even less warmth than Harper, and I don't think he'd be able to win back the left of the Party that went over to the NDP.

    "I suspect we're just going through an anti-Christ fad here in Canada, many "progressives" seem savagely hostile toward Christianity these days."

    The only hostility I've noticed is from regressive neanderthals who believe that there's no place for progressive thinking in religion. As someone who proudly considers himself both a Christian and a (small-l) liberal, all I can say to whoever said this is: shut up and go back under the rock from which you came.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:16 p.m.  

  • Remember the last Liberal leadership race, or non race... as it eventually became after the absolute jackboot,steam roller,with us or else,rule fixing,membership form controlling,meeting date rigging,executive overthrowing, (insert your favourite tactic) ... "Martinites" engineered a virtual coronation.

    Well my fellow Liberals..just insert the name McKenna wherever Martin appears in your individual memory... same "Board", same style,I'm convinced the deal was done when McKenna agreed not to run last time.

    It has started the Martinite/McKenna forces push for as short a campaign as possible to prevent any fresh faces from having a chance.

    As for laughing at Bob Rae, some pretty well connected people are telling me that it is almost a certainty that he will run.

    Ontario Cabinet Minister Gerard Kennedy could muster a decent team of supporters and organizers, culled largely from the former Rock and Copps folks. He would be clearly on the "left" of the field, maybe even more so than Rae. Money could be a big issue, the kind of funds he would need to build his profile to a national level, especially if McKenna gets his wish for a short campaign could be hard to raise. Also,would McGuinty allow him to go off chasing the Federal Leadership without giving up his provincial seat. Big risk for a "dark horse" , "long shot" or "fresh face" as he is being described. I think the guy has what it takes for the job and would be a very attractive Leader vs Harper but not sure he has the time or the money to pull it off.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:19 p.m.  

  • John Manley as Liberal leader would go a long way in getting me to move back to the Libs, but now that he's bowed out, the remaining leadership potentials don't really excite me. Now part of me hopes that Stronach wins, if for no other reason that it would torpedo the Libs chances at winning the next election.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:56 p.m.  

  • CG: I hear ya on that. There are questions, the party has to go through a process that brings us together. I'm moving off of my earlier thoughts about a quick race to get us some direction. Maybe McKenna is the real deal, I think he has that potential and he did accomplish a lot for NB and he has proven leadership skills we all just assumed Martin had (decisiveness, clarity of direction, delegation ability and trusting of those around you, etc.) but we can't have another coronation. If it's going to be McKenna we all have to know why and he has to be carefully vetted with questions and challenges. It would not be a good thing if there wasn't a serious challenge on the left of the party and someone like Kennedy or Ignatieff (yes, his policies are on the left, I'll get into that at Cerberus later) or even Rae would be very healthy for the party.

    For one, we'd see how strongly he holds his convictions and how well thought out they are.

    We'd see whether he has the rhetorical muster to defend and advocate FOR his ideas rather than fall to attacking the ideas of others.

    We'd give him the chance to convince us that he is the right guy. Force him upon us, and we won't follow.

    We'd test out his weaknesses (everyone has them) so that, if we decided to go with him, we'd know where we have bolster ourselves. Eg. Chretien's weaknesses in 1993 were on fiscal management, so he made Martin part of his team (and for more Machieavellian reasons also of course, but still), and on age so we marketed him as an energetic man and highlighted the young Liberal candidates. With Martin's coronation unfortunately, we didn't get a real chance to see how weak his weaknesses were nor how best to address them.

    A long campaign, with lots of casual debates (and lots of of blogging!), is very important.


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 2:18 p.m.  

  • I think one of the Gotti boys should run, it would be a perfect fit! Or perhaps consigliori Gagliano?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:26 p.m.  

  • Honestly, I wrote that last post before I read this, but maybe I'm in the wrong line of work and need to get into journalism or something. The whole post from Paul Wells:

    "...tonight I bumped into a very smart, young-ish Liberal who used to be in the business of sewing up riding associations so that a preferred candidate — let's call him "Paul Martin" — could waltz into the leadership without a grain of opposition.

    I assumed my acquaintance would already be in the business of busting kneecaps (metaphorically, of course) to grease the wheels for some new anointed Grit dauphin. But nay. Even this ex-Martinite organizer thinks it would be better for the Liberal Party if it took its time and allowed a substantial field of serious candidates to run — better if the party set up a legitimate process rather than putting up a single candidate.

    We agreed that this would be a good question to put to anyone trying to ramrod a bogus fast-track leadership-selection process through, say as early as today, on the National Council conference call:

    • If your preferred candidate — let's call him "Frank McKenna" — is too chicken to face Denis Coderre or Maurizio Bevilacqua in a fair fight, what chance will he have against Stephen Harper?

    Actually, there's a corollary.

    • Even if you manage to railroad the cowed and confused Liberal party apparatus, do you seriously think you'll snow the press gallery, and behind it the people of Canada? How well did that work the last time?

    Just asking."


    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 2:28 p.m.  

  • Where does Dion stand socially? Apart from his stance on separatism and his poli sci background, what does he believe in?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:48 p.m.  

  • Perhaps labelling Ignatieff a Bush apologist is a bit off the mark... he's more of a spin doctor. Here's a piece he wrote for the NY Times trying to sell the half-baked notion that Bush really and truly invaded Iraq to plant the seed of democracy in the Middle East:
    (username = opensewer, password = iswatching)

    For such a prestigious academic, his prose is unbelievably gaudy. Which reminds me of another reason he's unfit to lead: his political experience is entirely academic.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:58 p.m.  

  • I've been really impressed with Kennedy as education minister. That's been a god awful portfolio for a long time but he's managed to keep most people happy.

    He's got the perfect CV for the job - I really hope the guy runs. I think he could bring back a lot of the Ontario vote we lost last time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:55 p.m.  

  • Dion -- despite the rumoured wishes of the Board -- has been a very strong Enviro minister. The idea of a carbon tax was especially ingenius because it was definitely an outside-the-box idea -- which I'd suggest is typical for his manner of thinking.

    In terms of social policy, he's been a senior research fellow with the Brookings Institution in Washington, which is generally regarded as one of the States' pre-eminent liberal think-tanks -- so I'd say that although I'd like to see his social views flushed out more, there seems to be an excellent left of centre pedigree. And on top of that, even Warren Kinsella described Dion as "the most popular Liberal politician in Western Canada" (blog, Feb 15, 2004).

    Dion has been a stellar defender of federalism and Canada. He comes across as one of the most principled pols we've got, and in the 2004 campaign, he took over the Quebec machine from Lapierre's kamikaze-like strategy and probably saved the asses of 5-10 grits. In other words, he's got great political savvy.

    The thing for me in leadership contests is that it's not a question of choosing one candidate and excluding the rest, it's a question of choosing an order among them (because as we all know, with every round of balloting, support is dynamic and jumps around -- just look at McGuinty). Based on his principles, intellect, and bona-fide federalist vision of Canada, I want him to run because he articulates my views on these issues the best, and I believe federalism vs decentralization could be an excellent campaign issue for '08.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:25 p.m.  

  • Marc said:I'm a Conservative, and I like McKenna. That is the nub of the problem with McKenna. He's a clone of Martin without Martin's federal experience. If we're looking for someone charismatic then Brian Tobin is the best bet. He's been out of the public eye for a while but he has charisma plus.He has both provincial and federal experience. He's also a left-centre Liberal. If he chooses to run, then I'll be cheering him on.

    By Blogger cardinal47, at 9:45 p.m.  

  • Thanks for answering my question about Dion. All I can say to it all is that if he ran for the Liberal leadership, I'd have a very hard time not joining up for it...and I say that as a current member of the NDP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:33 p.m.  

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