OTTAWA — Bob Rae is expected to step down as interim Liberal leader in late June to make a run for the party’s permanent leadership — a move that essentially, will signal the start of the highly-anticipated race.
Rae has not officially announced his intention to run, but it’s difficult to find anyone in Liberal circles who believes the man who has headed the party for close to a year now isn’t planning to throw his hat into the ring. …
The only obstacle is whether the Liberal party’s board of directors will allow Rae to enter the race. In accepting the interim leadership following the Liberals’ third-place showing in the May federal election, Rae agreed to a stipulation laid out by the board that he would not run for the permanent leadership. …
Crawley has been on record as saying Rae shouldn’t be prevented from taking a crack at the permanent leadership, a position that most expect to be confirmed by the board next month. One Liberal MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the chances of Rae being prevented from running as slim to none.
Once that happens, Rae will be under intense pressure to confirm his intention to run for the permanent leadership and to give up his mantle as interim leader.
Liberals said this would give the new interim leader and caucus time to prepare for the fall parliamentary session. It also would ensure Rae doesn’t receive anymore of an advantage than some say he already has by letting him continue speaking for the party and travelling across the country on the party dime. …
The list of other potential candidates includes New Brunswick MP Dominic Leblanc, Justin Trudeau, former Toronto MPs Mark Holland, Martha Hall Findlay and Gerard Kennedy, and former Chretien minister Martin Cauchon.
But none of the potential candidates has yet come forward and categorically declared their intention to run — and the belief is that’s because everyone is waiting to see whether Rae is part of the race.
In the coming days, federal Liberals will roll out a new “supporter” membership category that will let outsiders have a say in choosing the party’s direction and leader.
I think Rae might just steamroll his way to the leadership.
JC: Well, I didn’t support the merger of my Progressive Conservative Party with the Reform Alliance because I thought the result would not be balanced. I thought that the very strong and positive traditions of my party would tend to be moved aside, and I’m afraid [that I’ve been proven] right… I think that this has been in effect a Reform Alliance government much more than a Progressive Conservative government. What does that mean? It’s certainly clear in international affairs, where its focus has been very narrow on the military and on trade. Much of the emphasis upon CIDA, which had been upon actual development dealing with poverty, has been replaced now by a supportive role [in] trade arrangements, not necessarily in the poorest countries. Our relations with many parts of the world where we had historically strong partnerships have deteriorated. There is an avowed interest in Latin America as a priority, but it’s primarily a trade interest rather than a political interest, and I think that is wasting a Canadian advantage. I’m sorry that’s happened.
I also think there has been an hostility towards some of the Canadian institutions – the CBC’s the most recent – and none of these are fault-free, but I think that they were given a benefit-of-the-doubt under former Progressive Conservative governments, and they’re not now. I’m astounded, frankly astounded, by the degree to which Parliament and Cabinet acquiesce in following, without any apparent questioning, the Prime Minister’s lead. Prime Ministers have always been strong in our system, but almost all others have respected their parties and their parliaments more than Prime Minister Harper does.
I generally agree with this critique, but with a qualifier — clearly Joe Clark does matter. For one thing, we’re talking about him. For another, his protégé just beat a campaign led by Stephen Harper’s old staffers to retain the job of Premier of Alberta, so clearly the Red Tory progressive tradition still has a bit of life in it.
I think Clark’s a bit of a sore loser and a political mess-up, but he has had a major impact on present-day Canada. It’s no surprise that the Charlottetown Accord was his baby.
I say a Joe Clark of the present-day would probably find his place in the NDP — much like what happened to the last Progressive Conservative MP for Toronto Centre-Rosedale. Does that say something about how far the spectrum has shifted since 1976? Perhaps.
Anyway. It’s interesting, where the Canadian political spectrum is shifting to…
Do we think McGuinty can pick up his majority with this?
Long-time Progressive Conservative and former Ontario cabinet minister Elizabeth Witmer is leaving politics after being re-elected just six months ago, opening the door to a potentially game-changing by-election.
Ms. Witmer is resigning as the member for Kitchener-Waterloo after 22 years in the legislature to take on the government-appointed post of chairwoman of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
The move could give the minority Liberals a shot at tipping the scales in their favour.
The Liberals were re-elected last October just one seat short of a majority government. The election of Liberal Dave Levac as Speaker means they currently have 52 votes in the 107-seat legislature.
But if the Liberals manage to snag Ms. Witmer’s riding from the Tories, that would put them on equal footing with both opposition parties, who collectively hold more seats. And the Speaker, who can only vote if there’s a tie, traditionally sides with the government.
The Liberals, if they win that by-election, would have a majority government — they’d be safe till 2015.
So, do you think it’ll happen?
A fine song to end an academic year on.
Oh, other news: Obama’s centre-right praisers of 2008 seem to be turning on him.
Better late than never, I suppose, but I saw what they’re now seeing when I read his books.
Back in April 2008.
(Québec) Pour la première fois depuis des mois, le Parti libéral du Québec (PLQ) se hisse en tête d’un sondage. Il recueille 30 % des intentions de vote, selon le dernier CROP.
N’empêche que ce serait un très gros pari pour Jean Charest de convoquer les Québécois aux urnes avec les données colligées par la firme de sondage. Car, déjà à des sommets, le taux d’insatisfaction à l’endroit de son gouvernement grimpe encore! Il passe de 70 à 73 %.
Selon la dernière enquête CROP-Le Soleil-La Presse, le Parti québécois (PQ) a chuté du premier au deuxième rang depuis le mois dernier. La formation de Pauline Marois aurait reçu l’appui de 28 % des citoyens si des élections générales avaient eu lieu entre le 18 et le 23 avril.
La Coalition avenir Québec (CAQ), de François Legault, demeure stationnée en troisième position, avec 25 % des intentions de vote.
So, for the French-challenged, that’s Liberals 30, PQ 28, CAQ 25; but the Liberal government has a dissatisfaction rating of 73% because they’re corrupt sons of bitches.
That means at least a portion of the province hates them but is voting for them anyway, because there’s no-one else.
First by default! Go Quebec Liberals!
Romney gave a really good speech last night.
Last night in Manchester, NH, Mitt Romney gave his best speech of the campaign in the wake of sweeping the five primaries held Tuesday. Clearly, some sort of mental and strategic switch has been thrown, and Romney emerged as a formidable challenger willing to take the fight directly to President Obama. Toby Harnden of the UK Daily Mail called it a “pivot” for Mitt, and the term fits well. Mitt looked poised, self-assured, and focused.
The speech contained at least one very memorable line, one that took James Carville’s slogan from Bill Clinton’s campaign and deftly fashioned it into a telling blow against Obama.
Predicting “a campaign of diversions, distractions, and distortions” from Obama over the next six months, he warned his opponent: “That kind of campaign may have worked at another place over in a different time. But not here and not now. It’s still about the economy… and we’re not stupid.“
Romney may be emerging as a formidable candidate for the general election.
Entitlement to power mentality? Check.
Factionalism based on old leadership bad blood? Check.
Leaky as a sieve caucus? Check.
“Tim’s position has left him out of being any relevant part of news for weeks. Andrea looks very strong,” confided one PC insider.
While his caucus members endorsed Hudak’s decision to ultimately oppose the budget, some worry he squandered an opportunity to publicize restraint measures they believe will dominate the next election, possibly in 2013.
“It was never clear to me why we had to disclose our intentions on budget day,” said another high-ranking Tory, complaining that that helped the Liberals because they only had to appease the left.
Further complicating matters for Hudak are some ruffled feathers after PC MPPs were informed last week that Tom Long and Leslie Noble, masterminds of former premier Mike Harris’s victories in 1995 and 1999, would be in charge of the next Conservative campaign.
“We were told we weren’t allowed to discuss that they’re running things because they are people who make significant money in the private sector and don’t want that put at risk,” another PC member confided.
Although Long and Noble are well-respected tacticians who helped on Hudak’s campaign last fall, some MPPs were taken aback at the gag order.
That has led to at least one member musing about perhaps challenging Hudak, who won a leadership review in February with 78.7 per cent support.
Reminds me so much of 2007-11 among the federal Liberals.
Okay, decoding this a bit more.
1. Around the 2:30 mark: “Well, I think one of the most important political consequences of the referendum is for the Labour Party. This is the heart and soul of their electoral base, Scotland. If Scotland goes independent, I think that changes British politics — English politics — forever, and possibly consigns them to the dustbin of history. It’s that important. So my sense if you’re a Labour politician in England — you’d better come up with something plausible to say to the Scots which says not independence, but, you know, extensive devolution to meet the needs, which are clear, of the Scottish people for more management of their own affairs — effectively a state-within-a-state. I don’t see how this ends in any other way than Scotland winning more power, either through the independence route or through devolution. And it’s crucial for the Labour Party to understand that. They can’t sit this one out on the sidelines, because they may lose everything if they do.”
2. Around the 7:00 mark: “The Scots-Nats want to tell you nothing will change. They want to tell you you can have your cake and eat it too. That is, you can have all the virtues of not having Tory politicians in London bossing you around. And that would be a positive for Scotland, there’s no question. But I think over time, the two societies will move ever ever further apart. That’s I think what the Canadian example tells you. You start with the assumption nothing will change, and bit-by-bit-by-bit you discover that everything changes.” [Questioner: "Is the logical conclusion of what you are saying, that further transfers of power will end up with independence in Quebec, as in Scotland?"] “Well, the Canadian example seems to show that you can devolve power down and get those ‘Tory politicians from London’ out of your hair, and run your own affairs short of being an independent country, and it’s a kind of way-station — you stop there for awhile. But I think the logic eventually is independence. Full independence.” [Q: "For Quebec as for Scotland?"] “I think eventually that’s where it goes.”
So basically, he’s advising a course of action that he believes will fail, the internal logic of which is full independence.
I think I can see why he didn’t quite inspire the Canadian centre-left.
The moral of the story is likely that dynasties do not crumble overnight. The decline of Rome lasted hundreds of years. The Oilers won a cup after dealing Gretzky. The Empire was good for two more movies, even after the Death Star blew up. …
The situation in this election is eerily similar to the 2004 federal campaign, when 2012 Wildrose campaign manager Tom Flanagan — then working for the federal Conservatives – tried to lead an upstart right wing band of misfits to victory against the natural governing party. In both instances, the incumbent dynasties had knifed successful leaders, and had unrealistic expectations for their new leaders. Just as anonymous PC strategists lamented about winning “too many seats” in February, in 2004 Liberal strategists mused about 200 seats for Paul Martin (which in fairness, Martin got – it just took him two elections to do it).
In both instances, the incumbent badly mismanaged a scandal (Adscam for Paul, the “no meet committee” for Redford), and threw caution to the wind by calling an election in the midst of it. In both instances, Flanagan’s great right hope rose in the polls, pulled into the lead, won the debate…and then blew it in the bottom of the 9th. Both times voters stared change in the face, and decided they weren’t ready for it – yet.
We all know how things turned out federally, and therein lies the cautionary tale for all the players in Alberta. The Wildrose Party now has a base of 35% of the Alberta electorate. They have an impressive, albeit inexperienced, leader in Danielle Smith who now has four years to refine her skills and weed out the thornier candidates from her party’s ranks. If Stephen Harper could make the federal Conservatives look “non-scary”, then surely the photogenic and charismatic Smith can pull off the same trick in Alberta.
I’ll say now that I saw those tendencies, too, but where I differed is that I thought that Wildrose had a large enough lead that they’d win a narrow majority anyway.
We’ll see how it goes. Smith looks like a more charismatic version of Harper, but Harper has a ruthless streak that every successful leader needs. His 2004-05 experience made the current PM ruthlessly pragmatic. Maybe Smith has that streak, maybe not. In any event, the next four years will be interesting.
Update: Checking myself — how much of this is hindsight analysis?
No, I wrote it:
About threshold arguments — you can see that Warren Kinsella’s blog is full of them re Danielle Smith, this week.
Will they work? In the long run, no — they didn’t work for Paul Martin, ultimately, against Stephen Harper. But they may work for Redford’s party the way they did for Martin’s — they can stave off defeat for one more election, in a campaign that looked lost a week before E-day.
Okay, I can show that I did see it.
9:25 PM EDT: Sun News is calling the potential defenstration of the Tories “regime change”. ‘Nuff said.
CBC coverage starts in five minutes online here, and in half an hour on Newsworld.
10:02 PM: Polls closed. Rock and roll!
10:39 PM: Starting to look like Redford may have succeeded in scaring the left in Alberta to vote for her.
If she wins the ridings she’s now leading in, she may have a majority government. A slim majority, but a majority all the same.
10:55 PM: Maybe it won’t be such a slim majority? PCs seem to be pulling away — 10% lead in popular vote, upper 50s seat-count out of an 87-seat legislature.
11:00 PM: PCs have an 11-point spread in popular vote now, leading or elected in 61 of 87 seats.
Okay, I’m thinking now that a bunch of people looked at their local candidates for Wildrose and said, “Yeah, not so much.”
As this may be a pretty solid — thumping? — majority for Redford.
11:07 PM: Reminder to certain media personalities — don’t dance on the other fellow’s grave till you’re sure he’s dead.
11:14 PM: CBC calls it — PC majority government.
Joe Clark Progressive Conservativism lives!
11:24 PM: There was a Liberal/NDP strategic vote, yes, but Wildrose also lost 5-10% in the last week.
Something went on in that last week. Very interesting.
Midnight: Final analysis of the night: in the last week, about 5% of the electorate went from the Liberals and NDP to the PCs, and about 5% of the electorate went from Wildrose to the PCs.
There you get a 10-point swing to the PCs, and a thumping majority for Redford.
Smith has four years to whip her forces into shape and take another run at it.
8 AM, next morning: Interesting reading in the SDA thread about last night.
There are some meaty comments from Jay Currie and Gord Tulk, who back going full libertarian.
The WRP economic message was clear and sound.
The fear was generated using the minor notes of the socon side of the party. And, not terribly surprisingly, it turns out that there is not a huge audience for that message.
WRP got hit with the Progressives’ traditional fear tactics. In a few years they will do better.
At the same time, the fact is that there are a lot of latte sippers in Alberta. Progressives in the most unthinking sense of that term. The attempt to paint the WRP as uncool, barbarians succeeded simply because these sorts of people are so easily frightened.
A bad day for the conservative world; but also a teaching moment as our PC friends would say.
Time to go full on libertarian. It’s all about choice. Individual choice.
It was the fundamentalist – social conservative stances of just a handful of candidates that sunk the Wildrose as it was the case for Stock Day’s Canadian Alliance party and for Stephen Harper with the newly created Conservative Party.
What followed for the CPC was a purge of much of the socons and certainly they have never been a significant force in policy development.
That must now happen within the Wildrose. It has been helpful in this regard that virtually every single socon candidate was defeated. And it was even more helpful that many (two dozen?) libertarian candidates in Calgary went down to defeat as a result as well. These libertarians and their support teams will be looking to prevent it from happening a second time. …
The Wildrose finished with 9% fewer votes. The Liberals lost 4% to the PCs. That is not much of a margin to make up and with 18 MLAs the fight to get the message out will be far easier.