Welcome to the second, less frequently-posted decade of RevMod.

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Friday, January 10, 2003

Number Three

the NDP Leaders' Countdown continues. You might notice that the three remaining candidates have something in common: they are all sitting Members of Parliament. They have something else in common: they are all coming from a more moderate politics than the other three candidates. This may be cause or effect --- that is, it may be that serving on committees or sitting in the cafeteria with members of other parties is a constant reminder that your political opponents can be just as sincere and concerned as you are. Or it may be that unless you run in Burnaby-Douglas (and I love Svend, I do, even if I make light fun), you need to cut down on the ideological posturing to get elected. They all have a third thing in common: so long as they lead from where they've run, I'll be supporting any one of these three as leader, without reservation.

So, rather than thinking of Bill Blaikie as my third choice, let's call him "second runner-up", shall we?

If you've never met Bill, you might not realize what a big, imposing guy he can be. I like that. He comes from the Social Gospel movement, and I like that, too. (Anyone that thinks Christianity + politics = Stockwell Day, hasn't met Bill. Or Bill Phipps. Or Tommy Douglas. Or Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Among so many others.) He talks a great deal about stepping away from the negativity to which the NDP has long been associated - Health care is dead in a year, our schools are in ruins, people starving in the streets, blah blah complainycakes. A recent lobbying letter from Bill said "...to many Canadians we are the hall monitors of politics." (Not a bad turn of phrase, but I would have said "hall monitors of Confederation". That would look great on a bumper sticker, no?) Not that the complaints are wrong, just that we need to present a positive vision for change. He's very bright. I like all of this.

What's missing? Not much. He claims to speak French, but hasn't done it in my earshot, even to the degree of a few words for symbolism's sake. I think he probably does, but haltingly. Evidence to the contrary is eagerly anticipated. And he tends toward the bombastic rather than the substantial, though he's capable of both. Bombastic is fine as a menu choice, but not as default mode.

The party could do far worse than electing Bill Blaikie leader. And not a whole lot better... the differences between these top three are in my mind not wide differences. But I do think the party can do better, and it has two chances to do so.

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