Monday, November 20, 2006

My Two Cents Revisited

Back in July I gave my assessment of the then 11 candidates for the leadership for the Liberal leadership. With but one week left until the convention, it is time to update the list. Once again I will go from least desirable to most desirable. Not a whole lot has changed in my thinking but I thought it would be good to explain my support for Kennedy one more time before the convention At the end of each comment I will post odds of winning. So once again from worst to best the eight candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada:

Joseph Volpe: Where to begin? Volpe has been to this race what the sponsorship scandal was to the last two election campaigns: a persistent distraction from the important issues. From accepting campaign donations from children to signing up the dead to vote for him, Volpe has disgraced himself and his party. I don't know how Volpe got any delegate support on Super Weekend but he did. Chances are his support will not be sought to overtly by any of the major camps and therefore he will play a very minimal role in the convention. Thank God for that. Do us all a favour, use your convention speech to retire from politics. Chance of victory: Infinite to 1.

Ken Dryden: What went wrong? That has to be the question Ken Dryden has been asking himself for the last few months. How did such a promising candidate become an afterthought? Well, it starts with a total lack of charisma. I'm sorry, that does matter. Add to that Dryden doesn't really bring anything new to the table and you got a large yawn from most Liberals. His "Big Canada" looks far too much like Martin's defeated 2006 platform. Full of pretty words and spread too thinly across policy areas. At the end of the day, he was a man of the past and it doomed him. Chance of victory 250,000 to 1.

Martha Hall-Findlay: Martha was a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, that was about all she was. Her platform involved finding out where her people were going so that she could lead them. The grassroots approach is nice, but some sort of coherent vision of Canada would have been helpful (Kennedy got the grassroots thing right). Combine that with a total lack of recognition and money and Martha's campaign was doomed from the start. She will be the first one off the ballot. I don't believe it's mathematically possible for her to get on the second ballot. Chance of victory: None.

Scott Brison: I briefly flirted with the idea of supporting Scott Brison but quickly realized he was unelectable and decided against it. I don't know if he was hurt by the income trust e-mail debacle last December, but I'm sure it didn't help. He talked about strengthening the economy which was a necessary voice to have in the debates. However, he is still a little to the right of the party and it showed. However, he's young and could very easily reinvent himself between now and the next leadership convention. I am prepared to take a serious look at him next time around, I'm sure I'm not alone. Chance of victory: 400,000 to 1.

Michael Ignatieff: The more I see of Michael Ignatieff the less I like. The man has done a very good impression of Mr. Dithers at various points in his campaign and that should send off alarm bells in a lot of Liberal minds. He is still fundamentally not a politician and really not in tune with the feelings of his home country. His absurd proposal to reopen the constitution proved that to me. Yes, from an academic perspective, it would be nice to get Quebec into the constitution but I'm not willing to break up the country trying. We can't spend the next election getting the foot out of our leader's mouth and hmming and hawing over Quebec's nationhood. We need to be worried about issues that face Canada today like the aging population and the environment not issues of fifteen or twenty-five years ago. Mr. Ignatieff would be a disastrous choice for leadership. The NDP would have a good chance at getting 50 seats, heck, the Greens might elect a member or two. Liberals win when they campaign on the left, Iggy can't do that with any credibility. His age is also a concern. Harper will once again look like the young decisive leader against the old dithering Liberal. Notwithstanding all I've said, there's a very good chance he will lead the party. Chance of Victory: 5 to 2

Bob Rae: I like Bob Rae. Or at least I like the Bob Rae of 2006. I don't like the Rae of 1990-1995. This may or may not be a major issue in the mind of the voters but it will be in the minds of Tory strategists. If Rae is leader, we will spend the next election trying to justify the miserable Ontario NDP regime of the early 1990's instead of where Canada can go in the new millennium. Mr. Rae has done admirable work since his days as premier. He has proven himself on issues from education to Air India. He has run a well organized campaign and chances are good could run a very efficient campaign. I am still unconvinced that he can win in the suburbs and small towns of Ontario so crucial to the next election. Would he increase the margin of victory for Liberals in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal? Probably. Can he pick up new seats? Probably not. The other major problem with Rae is that he is a bit of a tabula rassa on new ideas. What would a Rae platform look like? I have no idea. Sorry Bob, in politics, very few people get a second chance. Your record as premier means that you don't deserve one. Chance of victory 4:1

Stephane Dion: It's not easy being green. Just ask the Green Party. I like a lot of what Stephane Dion says. We do need to fight greenhouse gases in a way that promotes economic growth and yes, the plan he has would probably work. The problem with the Dion campaign is that Stephane Dion is at the head of it. Leaving his suspect English aside, this is the man who introduced Quebeckers to the Clarity Act. Gilles Duceppe is just waiting for the opportunity to remind Quebec of that insult to La Belle Provence. Is the environment important to Quebec? Sure, but he is not the only one who can campaign against the Tory environment plan. I mean anyone can do that. Even Joe Volpe could do that. It's just that easy. Anyone who watched the last debate in Toronto, has to have some pause about Dion. He reminded me of Jack Layton during the 2004 debates: rude. He seemed far too eager to drive the party apart in order to win. In too many ways, Dion is a remnant of the Chretien-Martin era. He's a street-fighter like Chretien, we really don't need another one of those. The civil war is supposed to be over. Chance of victory 6:1

Gerard Kennedy: As was true in July, my choice for Liberal leader is Gerard Kennedy. The former Ontario Minister of Education, continues to defy the media reports of his impending political death. A lot of the criticism that have been brought up about Gerard are similar to the ones brought up about Harper. His French isn't good enough. He has an abrasive leadership style. Therefore he can't win? Well, Harper won and did so beating (in the popular vote) a flawlessly bilingual Liberal leader in Quebec.

As for the positives? Well, the main reason I decided to get involved in the Kennedy campaign was that he was talking about the impending crisis which is coming to our social programs and our country in general. No, not global warming, Western aging. Kennedy has a plan to cope with the retirement of the baby boom. He has a plan that does it through that most Liberal of Canadian institutions: immigration. Making sure immigrants get credit for their credentials is not only morally imperative but also crucial to the future success of the country. If this was Kennedy's entire platform, I would support him. However, he is much more. He put forward a clear, reasonable and pragmatic position on the Israeli-Lebanon conflict and Afghanistan. He recognizes the imperatives presented by global warming. He invited debate on his policy positions. Debate? Yes, Prime Minister there is such a thing.

He proved as minister of education that he can handle hard jobs. Take a look at the record. In the four years before Kennedy was minister three different people held the position. In the six months since two people have held the job. Kennedy held the position for three years and did the impossible: he brought labour peace. Anyone who like me went to school in the Harris era knows how crucial that labour peace was. Liberals underestimated Harper and paid the price. People underestimate Gerard at their own peril. He has the ideas and track record to lead this party in the right direction. Can he win a general election? Well, time will tell but nothing says definitely not, not even his French. That isn't true for the other seven candidates. Chance of victory: 5 to 1.


CuriosityCat said...

Your odds on Ignatieff winning (5:2) are improbable, given your very accurate summary of the man and his campaign to date. It should be much higher - say 7 or 8 to 1. Liberals are not lemmings, nor are the Liberal delegates to the convention. They will not plunge over a cliff with him.

This means the one with the best odds of being elected is Bob Rae.

rms said...

Sorry Cat. A lot of Rae's support rallied just before super weekend, when he was perceived as being the only candidate who could stop Iggy. Once Kennedy showed he was within 3 points of Rae, he began to bleed Rae's support.

I wouldn't be so sure about his electability.

How will the party show true grassroots renewal by parachuting in a leader from another party?

Anonymous said...

Too bad you're WRONG!

Alan_K_Smithee said...

You give Kennedy a 17% chance of winning, compared to 14% for Dion, 20% for Rae, and 29% for Ignatieff. That only adds up to 80%. You might want to re-jig your odds a bit.

Here are the odds that Pinnacle Sports, an on-line betting company in the Caribbean, is giving on the Liberal leadership race:

Canadian Politics: To win Liberal Leadership Race
Fri 12/1 Bet pays off when Winner declared at Convention

801 Michael Ignatieff +140
802 Bob Rae +203
803 Stephane Dion +242
804 Gerard Kennedy +2000
805 Ken Dryden +20000
806 Scott Brison +40000
807 Joe Volpe +30000
808 Martha Hall Findlay +50000

They are giving 20-1 odds against Kennedy winning the leadership. If you REALLY believe that GK will take the title, you can make some serious money.*%20Canadian%20Politics

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