Wow, this is a bit of a shock; Belinda Stronach announced today she is not running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada. Story from CTV.
And in her announcement she trashed the process by which the Liberals choose their leaders. The Liberals are yet again holding a delegated convention with the people voting for leader chosen by local riding associations. From what I gather there can be entire slates of delegates chosen in each riding for one candidate or another, so if you finish second with 20% of the vote in a riding or something like that you can still end up with no delegates at the end of the day. And quite a sizable number of delegate ositions are reserved for "ex-officio" members and other party bigshots: the old boys club! From what I gathered listening to Mike Duffy and the rest of them, a lot of that "old-boys network" is either backing Bob Rae or Michael Ignatieff. The Chretien crowd is backing Rae, the Trudeau and Turner crowd are with Ignatieff, according to Duffy. Scott Brison has the Earnscliffe gang from what I gather, assuming he runs.
With all these delegates tied up Belinda was at a disadvantage from the start and you could tell she was really bitter at what seemed like a lack of support from the party bigshots. When she ran for the Tory leadership she never had these kinds of problems. It was a one-person one-vote process and Belinda could sign up all the members she wanted, plus she had plenty of endorsements from big names in the party like Bill Davis and Mike Harris, and access to the top organizational talent in the country, people like John Laschinger. Plus, there was a preferential ballot which eliminated all the horse-trading on the convention floor. This upcoming Liberal convention promises to be similar to the 2003 PC race, which was the most notorious convention in history because of the horse-trading that went on. That David Orchard deal helped kill that party!
As it stands, this Liberal race is bound to end up in a brokered four-or-five ballot convention. Which is normal for these delegated conventions, by the way. These delegated conventions may be fun to cover but they are a throwback to the machine politics of a bygone era and are basically a disgrace. I prefer the way the Tories pick their leaders these days with a direct vote, it cuts down on all the deal-making nonsense and reduces the power of the political bosses.
Robert Fife was saying on CTV News that the real reasons Belinda isn't running have nothing to do with this high-mindedness about the process: that it all comes down to her troubles speaking French plus her organizational difficulties. That Reg Alcock maybe was not up to the job. Maybe those were factors, but I think Belinda truly feels the deck is stacked against her and is completely ticked off at the party because of the good-old-boys networks and the power they have over the way leaders are selected. She has every right to be mad. I'm disgusted with the way the Liberals operate, too. I happen to think Belinda's complaints about the process have a lot of merit. But that's the way that party operates. Welcome to the Liberals, Belinda!!!
Anyway, one less leadership candidate. Tomorrow, Michael Ignatieff and Stephane Dion join the race. Also stories that the toast of Prince George, British Columbia, Hedy Fry, may run too. (Hee hee hee.)