Sunday, December 7, 2008


Well, apparently the leadership 'race' has come down to two horses.
Dominic Leblanc, setting up as the alternative choice and youth candidate to replace embattled Stephane Dion, is stepping down today as a candidate, and rumours are he will stand behind Michael Ignatieff's candidacy.
That should not be considered an insignificant endorsement at this time.
Leblanc was a serious candidate, and at the early stage he had racked up a few significant names. Here in BC, I was impressed by the people who jumped onto his ship, caught up by the image that this well-educated, deeply-rooted Liberal brought to the mix.
He had the credentials to be taken serious. However, as developments go, this is no time for a lower profile, learn on the go type of leader.
The Liberal party is at a cross roads, as is the Canadian Parliamentary system. Harper has demonstrated complete disdain for the role of the opposition -- nevermind the important bodies that protect our democracy, like Elections Canada and now the Governor General -- and remains completely obsessed with the idea of smothering the Liberal Party out of existence. It's incredibly shocking, too, that the media at large does not call this economically-challenged ogre for not doing what he supposedly was elected to do -- govern on behalf of all Canadians. He refuses to take a non-partisan position on anything. Instead, he's twisted and contorted our democratic beliefs, with bald-faced lies, faux outrage issues like election fraud by women wearing face coverings and now the 'coalition' with the Bloc. And most reprehensible, ignoring serious issues while fiddling away his energy and resources on kneecapping his rivals. He must be stopped.
And if there was to be a vote on the Liberal leadership, and I was to be eligible to vote, I would support Ignatieff. I've come to see that my prejudices of long past were misconstrued opinions, some through ignorance, and that the candidate himself has shown evidence of growth and human resilience over some of the issues he was damaged by during his first campaign.
I was a Bob Rae delegate last time, and hold immense respect and liking for Mr. Rae. He would make an outstanding leader and Prime Minister, and as a statesman there are few parallels among Canadians. However, I believe that two critical areas will hamper his ability to win, hold and earn a place among first Liberal hearts and secondly, the Canadian public.
His NdP baggage, while appealing for someone here on the left coast who usually supports the BC provincial NDP party, will always be an issue and be elevated beyond importance by our rivals. And with the CONs' heavy influence among some TV and newspapers, that will be difficult to combat, despite Rae's well-known talents as a debater and raconteur.
Secondly, the ideas that Ignatieff brought forward during the last campaign have either been tried and tested (Quebec) or tested and tossed (green shift). Rae chose not to run on issues and policy ideas last time around, and in the end that did hurt him. No one can debate that both men are deep thinkers, people who have experiences that would be an immense improvement of Mr. Grumpy. It'll be up to Ignatieff to listen better than his predecessor, to invigorate and invite the grassroots to become more involved, while also present a quick and appealing introduction to Canadians, an introduction that will help counter the deep-pocketed lies and exaggerations from the CONs.
If we're not going to have a May convention, I do support the idea that Rae is promoting, that the party can still provide a one-member, one-vote option to decide this. It is do-able, whether it combines internet, telephone and mail ballots. There could also be a one-week cut-off to attract new members (which could cause plenty of trouble if the CONs try to stack our rural ridings out west)... I'll leave it up to the brains of the party to decide, and will accept their decision.
However, although I believe Harper has opened a great big window of opportunity here (and you can read some good inside opinions at the Hill Times) having revealed his crass hand to the Canadian public in his efforts to both cripple the opposition and avoid our democratic process, we will have a lot of work to do. And I support Michael Ignatieff for the job.
As it has been said, many times over these many days, we do live in interesting times...


Jacob said...

With all due respect, I'd say the vote by all party members is pretty much nonviable. Not only does it leave open the possibility of Tory stacking in rural ridings, as you suggest, but it also poses a significant technical challenge as establishing ID (or providing some means of identification) for all party members would take a really long time to set up, and would likely cost a lot of money to implement effectively. At this point, the Liberals unfortunately have neither time nor money, and a messy race would only make the party look worse in the eyes of the media.

As excited as I was to have the leadership race out here in Vancouver, and as important as it is not to totally alienate the grassroots, it would probably be best for the party's electoral future and for its bank balance if the leadership was decided quickly and (if you like to call it this) undemocratically.

burlivespipe said...

I support the idea of grassroots consultation, something that delved beyond the caucus and senate. Although, I'm most likely going to agree in whatever the Big M and #29 Ken Dryden would support;^)
It was always going to be a compromise due to the extenuating circumstances. That now we are aiming to have an interim leader, likely one of the current candidates, who'll then likely need to be affirmed in May, is definitely a compromise. However, it is critical during these times that we have caucus solidarity moving forward. I'm on board.