Thursday, February 16, 2006

Western Liberal Leadership Candidates

It seems the Atlantic Canada favorites for the Liberal leadership race, Brian Tobin and Frank McKenna have returned to the barn, leaving what looks to be a wide open race. So I will try and handicap the western horses.

Gordon Campbell: 4000:1 long shot. Even though he leads the BC Liberal party, and one would think a 2nd term Liberal premier would have to be contender, he is neither a liberal nor a Liberal. I guess he is about as liberal as David Emerson. I'm sure if he were 3 years into his second term he would be salivating at the opportunity, but less than a year into his (reduced) mandate, there is not a chance. Besides, as a candidate, the man has the personality of a kitchen appliance. His mug shot photo from his Hawaii DUI would make a great campaign poster.

Hedy "Crosses are Burning" Fry: 1000:1 long shot. She certainly has the Liberal party connections, tenure with the party and has held numerous cabinet positions, but this mare is lame. Take her out and shoot her.

Christy Clark: 350:1 long shot. Her tenure as Minster of Education in British Columbia was an unmitigated disaster. While it is understood that in the first few years of the Liberal government following the financial wreck left by the NDP, all ministries were required to cut costs, her outright denial that per student education funding was reduced was a flimsy lie - while absolute funding was marginally increase, real funding (inflation adjusted) was reduced. Her clumsy war with the BC Teachers Federation over control of the BC College Teachers college was well intentioned, but it failed due to poor strategy and even worse execution. Besides, I thought she quit politics to spend more time with her family. Or was it to run for the NPA Vancouver majoral nomination? Federal Liberal leadership? Her family must suck. She is however well connected. He husband is a federal Liberal BC organizer.

Ujjal Dosanjh: 25:1 long shot. Ujjal is my MP, a good man and an incredible asset to the LPC. As a former BC and federal cabinet minister and premier for a few months, he has a solid resume. He has very strong connections to the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver and some ties to the labour movement. He founded the Farm Workers Legal Information Service to help Indo-Canadian janitorial, farm and domestic workers have access to legal services. This organization led to the formation of the Canadian Farmworkers Union. He has solid Civil Liberties credentials working for a number of civil liberties groups in BC. His big weakness is the shortness of his tenure with the Liberal Party of Canada. In my opinion, this is not long enough to form the network of connection needed to win a leadership race. He also doesn't speak french - a serious handicap for any leadership hopful. Ujjal would certainly bear the standard for the liberal wing of the Liberal Party, however it has been reported in the Vancouver Province that Ujjal has officially opted out.

Anne McLellan: 50:1. Landslide Annie won in races for the Liberals in Edmonton. Any Liberal who can do that is a hell of a candidate. She has held high profile federal ministerial portfollios (Natural Resources, Justice and Attorney General, Health and Deputy PM). She is outspoken and a dynamic campaigner. Anne is far more centrist than Dosanjh, as she would have to be to get elected in Edmonton.

Ralph Goodale: 5:1. Ralph is probably the closest thing to a front runner that the west has. He has impecable Liberal Party credentials as the former leader of the Saskatchewan Liberal Party. He like Anne has also held a series of high profile federal cabinet positions, the most recent being Finance. He is an experienced campaigner, fund raiser, and connects very well with audiences. Like Jean Cretien, he has a great ability to connect with common people in everyday situations. The only knock against his is that he has fairly close ties to Paul Martin, but to my knowledge he has not alienated the Cretien side of the party. Politically, I would probably class him as a moderate.

Any other suggestions?

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