Friday, December 5, 2008

About that leadership race

"The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays, is coming to a close. In its place we are entering a period of consequences...,"
Winston Churchill said to the House of Commons in November of 1936.

There is a long way to go in this race. But the question needs to be asked: "What is a leader?". Both of the front runners are unquestionably fine men. They are the opposite of an empty coat. They are men of the highest integrity. Excellent debaters. Intelligent in the extreme. They have the best interests of Canada at heart. At any time throughout most of Canada's history, we would be fortunate to be able to call either of them Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. But the same is true of Stephane Dion.

We are in a period unlike most of Canada's history. We are facing an economic crisis unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes. The current occupant of the PMO is a coward who is willing to rip the country apart to save his grasp on power. A cunning one but a coward nonetheless. In addition to this, he is openly plotting to turn Canada into what would essentially be a one party state by destroying his oppenents.

Given the current travails of country and party, I will be much happier to see a person who recognizes the danger and is willing to step up and be counted than one who waits to see how things triangulate. The Liberal leadership is not such a great prize right now. There is no point in strategizing for a run-up to a May convention if Harper is going to contrive an election in March.

Compare and contrast.

Mr. Rae, the Toronto Centre MP and Liberal leadership candidate, began staking out his territory Thursday as the champion of a coalition government aimed at taking down Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

He's going to carry the can,” said one of his chief strategists. “He's going to stand up and let his voice be heard and encourage Liberals to hang in and we can take down Harper and put in a good government that will do the right thing.

"Meanwhile, Mr. Rae left no doubt where he stood on the coalition concept. In a remarkable intervention during a raucous closed-door caucus meeting Thursday, Mr. Rae interrupted Mr. Dion, taking him on for being too conciliatory toward Mr. Harper."


"Michael Ignatieff, Mr. Rae's main rival for the leadership and his former best friend, was not as aggressive in his approach, telling reporters that Liberals will be “thinking hard” and “responsibly” until the Harper Conservatives deliver their budget on Jan. 27."
"On Thursday, there was a hint of Mr. Ignatieff's hesitancy after it became known he was the very last Liberal to sign a letter endorsing the coalition, which was sent to the Governor-General before her meeting with Mr. Harper."

"Thinking hard"? You have got to be kidding. Dion tried debateing Harper respectfully and look what happened to him. The Conservatives are about to unleash pre-writ advertizing that will make Not-a-leader look like the trial run it was. Dion didn't think this kind of sleaze would have traction with the electorate. To his disappointment he was very wrong. He should have fought back against it right away. Dion's approval went up when he was combative. Like Rae is doing with his defense of the Coalition. Harper has been successful in his efforts to frame this so far.

Yes there are risks in backing the coalition. Yes Mr. Rae has baggage. But everyone does. And while I give Mr. Ignatieff high marks fro his honest contrition on his Iraq mistakes I can't conceive of a worse time for a "patrician" leader. We are entering into a battle for Canada. The time for half measures has passed.

This isn't a full endorsement of Mr. Rae but I guess you can decide which way I am leaning.Recommend this Post


Beijing York said...

Interesting. The whole coalition issue and who should lead it came up at a business lunch I was at today. A colleague who is a very well-respected Cree Elder and avid history buff said that the behaviour in Parliament this past week reminded him of the tone and antics of the German Bundestag in the early 1930s (and we all know where that led).

Anyway, we moved on to Rae and Ignatieff and everyone around our table unanimously disliked the idea of Iggy at the helm. Someone close to a certain defeated Liberal MP mentioned that she had been an Ignatieff supporter the last time around but was definitely working on Bob Rae's campaign this time.

Another colleague who is also a transplant from Ontario as I am thought that memories of his stint as Premier of Ontario could prove fatal. My Elder colleague said that it was unfortunate that he was blamed wholly for what was uncontrollable economic circumstances. I added that many Ontarians may resent him, but many more resented the Harris regime more and look who Harper has in his cabinet.

It was interesting for sure. One thing was certain, we all agreed that what Harper just did by proroguing parliament was an absolute disgrace.

Constant Vigilance said...

Thanks for the insights.

One other point that is kind of spooky. Your first paragraph touches on something I have been searching for quotes on to work up a post. This is the second time in a couple of days that you seem to have known what I was planning on posting. Very synchronisitic.

"Great minds thing a like and fools seldom differ."

Beijing York said...

Very cool (and thanks). Well I look forward to the installment.