Friday, January 27, 2006

LIBERAL LEADERSHIP RACE IS ON

In case you haven't noticed, everyone and their family dog is running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.

In fact, just this week there have been machinations and manueverings. Frank McKenna resigned as ambassador to the US this week, so he can get ready to run for leader. Meanwhile Anne McLellan says it ought to be a woman who should be leader of the party and that she might even run herself. Methinks, though, she will probably back someone else. I wonder who. Could it be... Belinda?

Meanwhile there are reports that Brian Tobin and even Bob Rae are mulling leadership runs of their own. I guess you don't need to be a lifelong Liberal to apply for the job. Heck, why doesn't Joe Clark run too, while he's at it?

I think there are two reasons why there are so many possible contenders for the leadership this time. One, this race is truly wide open. The last time, Paul Martin had the race in the bag from day one. Not true for the Liberals this time, so more people may feel they have a chance. Second, because Paul Martin basically won the leadership last time before the actual leadership campaign even began, many Liberals who might have wanted the top job were compelled to say "why bother?" They're realists, these politicians. Running for leader costs a lot of money; there's no point wasting your money trying to become leader if you're going to end up getting slaughtered.

I think a lot of these Liberals feel they have a real shot this time. And there's also Chretien Liberals who want to take the party back from the Martinite crowd that ran the party into the ground. There's a big, built-up desire by folks to run now while this opportunity is available. Who knows if this job will ever be open again.

So I think we'll see a lot of candidates. That's normal for a leadership race anyway. Usually these leadership races have something like eight or nine candidates anyway. When Trudeau won in 1968 there was something like nine contenders. It's pretty unusual if it's only two or three. I can also see the convention going multiple ballots, too. That hasn't happened in a long time.

Also in question is whether the Liberals will continue their unwritten rule of alternating between an Anglophone and Francophone leader. I think that tradition is in big jeopardy. It's supposedly a Francophone's turn to be leader but the only francophone I see running is Martin Cauchon, or maybe Stephane Dion. But neither of them have much of a chance, though Dion has plenty of admirers who think he's got some sense, unlike the rest of his party.

Maybe they'll get a Francophone to be Interim Leader and that will be how they continue that tradition of alternating between English and French leaders.

Already some people say they aren't running. John Manley, who was thought to be a contender, has said no. Even Brian Tobin says he's "a long way" from saying yes to a run. Family concerns are big for these folks. Warren Kinsella says he won't get involved in the leadership race either; his wife would kill him.

But the speculation and "draft" movements have begun. There are people out there wanting to "draft" Stephane Dion and even Clyde Wells. Jane Stewart has been mentioned as a candidate. Heck, it won't be long before rumors fly that Mario Lemieux will run for leader of the Liberal Party, now that he's retired from the Penguins. Heck, everyone and their dog is running.

Here's a list of who's been mentioned, as far as I can tell.

LIKELY or POSSIBLE PROSPECTS:
Frank McKenna, Brian Tobin, Belinda Stronach, Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Scott Brison, Martin Cauchon, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Denis Coderre, Joe Volpe

LESS LIKELY BUT RUMORED TO BE CONSIDERING IT, AT LEAST:
Stephane Dion, Allan Rock, Glen Murray, Anne McLellan, Ujjal Dosangh

OTHER/DRAFT POSSIBILITIES:
Clyde Wells, Bill Graham, Lloyd Axworthy, Jane Stewart, Sheila Copps, George Smitherman, Gerard Kennedy, Dennis Mills, Tom Wappel (ran for leader before), and union leader Buzz Hargrove (don't dismiss this possibility.)

FRINGE POSSIBILITIES:
Paul Hellyer, David Orchard (remember, he's a Liberal now. Don't laugh, it could happen.)

REALLY UNLIKELY:
Justin Trudeau, Canada AM host and longtime Liberal Seamus O'Regan, Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall, Canadian Idol winner Ryan Malcolm, comedian Jim Carrey, hockey stars Mario Lemieux, Tie Domi and Patrick Roy, Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean, skiier Ken Read, singers Celine Dion, Burton Cummings and Avril Lavigne, director Denys Arcand, Playboy playmates Pamela Anderson and Shannon Tweed, astronaut Marc Garneau, Entertainment Tonight Canada host Cheryl Hickey, eTalk Daily cohost Tanya Kim, Citytv personality Ed the Sock, and that guy in the Molson beer ad Joe Canadian.

I'm kidding, I think.

NOT RUNNING:
John Manley, Warren Kinsella, and disgruntled PC former prime minister Joe Clark (committed himself to be a guest judge on the reality show Who Wants to Be Prime Minister?, sponsored by Magna International) .

I also notice no one wants to draft John McCallum or even Ralph Goodale. I wonder why. They've mentioned everyone else.

I'm sure I'm missing quite a few names from the list of contenders. Now you may have noticed that not everyone on this list is a card-carrying Liberal. That hasn't stopped the Liberals before and won't stop them again, eh? Heck, they lured Belinda over, now she's their problem! I have enough sense, though, not to include either Ben Mulroney or Don Cherry on this list of names because, well, they're not Liberals. Besides, they're well paid in their jobs and under contract.

I read about the Paul Hellyer possibility (!) (?) at Calgary Grit and it doesn't sound too serious. But this is the silly season anyway. I don't think Hellyer will run. But I will say Watch Out for David Orchard. He's enough of a lunatic to want to run and make a mess of this race. I'd love to see this guy in the race, embarrassing the Liberal Party. Try cutting a deal with him on the convention floor, Frank McKenna! You'll lose your shirt.

That's all for now.

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