Saturday, September 3, 2011

Who to lead the progressive torch (es) ?

It may not happen during the current cycle, but I think it is inevitable -- despite the huge gap that exists in a number of policy fields between the Liberals and the New Democrats, some kind of alliance between the two or even an outright merger is bound to happen sooner rather than later.   Unless the Liberals can get a truly strong leader in a strong position to negotiate terms, it could very well be an ND takeover much as the Reform Party absorbed the Progressive Conservatives then dropped the "P" word.

The term "Liberal Democrat" will enter our vocabulary sooner than we think, but it need not be the right or far right Newspeak that the term denotes in Japan or Russia, but something truly progressive, as the Lib Dems are in the UK (at least on paper).   If some kind of détente can also be reached with the Greens (even if it's some informal agreement where the stronger of the two parties in a district runs a candidate with the tacit support of the other which would not field), the centre-left could have a chance.   There has to be broad agreement up front on where there is common ground, then serious good faith negotiations on what remains.    And unlike their right wing cousins, there has to remain a link between the federal and provincial parties.  It makes no sense to have "orphan" progressive movements left to fend their own fights.

I can't get my head around who could be running for the Liberal leadership.    Bob Rae, the interim leader, of course is not, which is too bad because he knows the far right better than most who play the game.   He got outplayed by one (Mike "The Knife" Harris) when Rae was an ND and the then Ontario Liberal leader had a gaffe-filled campaign which included the rightly said but wrongly interpreted "Hit your spouse, lose your house" line.   Frank McKenna has said repeatedly he's not interested, that 10 years as Premier of New Brunswick was enough, and I think that's a shame because he actually sowed the seeds for the "Third Way" policies of the Chrétien-Martin tag team, and that also partly inspired Roy Romanow the former socialist premier of Saskatchewan.

As far as Justin Trudeau goes, fuggetaboutit!   Canadians aren't interested in a dynasty unless there is a very long gap, and 30 years isn't enough.   Many Westerners who support Reform also visit the sins of the parents upon the children and they haven't forgotten about Pierre giving the West the middle finger.   As far as goes Justin's sister, Sarah Coyne, she's not "tainted" so much because she came along well after Pierre left office.   But she's too busy right now at the Wharton School.   Maybe ten to twenty years down the road ... I'd leave her be for now.

On the ND side?   Well, the obvious ones are out:   Romanow, Gary Doer and Svend Robinson, just to name three.   And the current batch of MPs are mostly greenhorns which isn't a bad thing for a party that reinvented itself without abandoning its socialist roots but the new blood needs to keep the momentum going and not go stagnant.

Unless another strong candidate comes forward and truly shines out the only logical choice I would see right now is Thomas Mulcair.   Yes, he is known for shooting himself in the foot at times -- but which politician hasn't had made an honest gaffe?    But, after the late Mr Layton, he knows Québec better than anyone else in his party (for one thing, he is a direct descendant of Honoré Mercier, a Premier of the province) -- and he managed to break through the provincial fortress where many thought the Libs would win forever.

If Mulcair says he isn't interested, that's understandable.   It takes a specific kind of person who would want to accept that kind of scrutiny while at the same time being merciless, absolutely merciless, against the incumbent PM.   Since the Conservatives want to run their next campaign in four years like it's right now, then their opponents need to call the bluff the moment a new leader is chosen.

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