Sunday, October 1, 2006

My second, third and fourth choices

The delegate selection for the Liberal Party takes place in Hamilton Mountain today. Watching the results roll out the country so far, it's interesting to see Michael Ignatieff out in a firm if not decisive lead. I am surprised to see Bob Rae trailing as much as he is ... but I think that has a lot to do with lingering anger about his time as the NDP Premier of Ontario and his decision to spend his way out of the recession instead of belt-tightening like most of the other provinces and territories did, even the ones under socialist administration (which at the time included British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon).

In a normal process, I'd be tempted to vote for a straight delegate line for one candidate. Given the Liberals need to rebuild from the ground up so much, the second or third ballots will be crucial ... so, as I noted in a previous entry I'm going to allocate my votes based on my second, third and fourth choices. Gerard Kennedy (five delegate votes) is my first choice, as a matter of principle. However, recognizing he may not win outright, here's how I'm going to line up today.

My second choice (four votes) is Michael Ignatieff. As recently as a week ago, I didn't think a Harvard professor was serious enough a candidate to be Liberal leader. But his hawkish tendencies play well with pro-military families, and his broad view of a Liberal Party needing to be a big tent can't be ignored. Besides, I'm the kind of person who prefers a guy with brains and no heart rather than a guy with heart and no brains (I think you know who I'm talking about) but Ignatieff has brains and a heart, even if his sensitive side is often times suppressed or hard to come out. And quite honestly, he'd be a more suitable resident at 24 Sussex Drive than who's in there right now.

Third choice (three votes) is Ken Dryden. He has real world business experience which is essential to getting stuff done in politics. He's also a very compassionate person. I don't think he'll win this thing, but he's going to be a player when the Liberals come back to power and a strong base will bode well for any Cabinet post awaiting him. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if he gets the Finance post.

That leaves my fourth pick. Until last night, I was going to give the remaining two slots on my ballot to Rae. But I just can't see this guy winning -- in fact some MPs have said they won't run again should be win the leadership. That's food for thought. A leader should unite the factions of a party, not divide them. Forcing people out doesn't bode well for the Liberals ... and where would they go? Some would go to the Conservatives, the rest to the NDP. It's hard to imagine the party of Alexander Mackenzie, Wilfrid Laurier and Mackenzie King vanishing. But who would have thought the same would happen to the Progressive Conservatives -- the party of John A Macdonald, Robert Borden and Brian Mulroney?

So I'm going to give them to Martha Hall Findley. Not that I know too much about her -- still. But the fact remains people remember the Bob Rae who ran Ontario, not who brought down Joe Clark in 1979. I can see Rae in a future Cabinet post, but he'd have to win in his seat first and I think people in Weston have moved on. Prime Minister? Sorry ... I just can't. Findley would be a much better cheerleader for the party, in my opinion -- and on the outside chance she pulls the inside straight and wins an upset for the leadership, Harper would still lose in a general election against her.

As for exactly which delegates get my vote -- well, some other Liberal bloggers have said they don't even recognize most names on the ballot and I suspect that'll be the case when I show up at the banquet hall. Eenie meenie miney moe, I guess.

UPDATE (12:27 PM EDT, 1627 GMT): I was a bit shocked when I discovered Martha didn't even have any delegates listed for Hamilton Mountain. So my last two votes were split between Scott Bryson and Stéphane Dion.

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