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Monday, November 17, 2003

Race from the leadership

Chalk up another refusal to accept the mantle of Leader of the Opposition. Bernard Lord, the bright and charismatic young Premier of New Brunswick, is not interested. This leaves failed Toronto Mayoralty candidate John Tory, current Alliance leader Stephen Harper, and that woman by the Centre Street LRT platform who keeps mumbling about government waste.

I think he'd be as quick as the others to refuse, but if I were part of the united Conservative Party brain trust, I would be doing everything in my power to draft Jean Charest. Moderate, smart, still reasonably young, experience in federal politics, lots of personal popularity in Ontario and Quebec that dates back to the 1990 referendum. Electing him leader would be a clear sign that the merger is not a takeover by the Alliance Party, and just having him as an early favourite would likely get Clark to rethink his anti-merger stance.

Charest went into Quebec politics because he correctly felt that taking over the Quebec Liberal party would be good for the country. Could he be convinced once more?

Update: Nothing against James' comment below, but the argument that finished this consideration for me came on Babble when I posited the same suggestion there.

"Newbie" responds: Frankly, if Charest gave up the premiership of Quebec to lead the Conservative Party, he'd be too nuts to consider voting for.
Yes, I understand. There's no way Charest wants this job. And yet, I don't see any other way out of the trap the new party is building itself. If the party elects an old-tyme Reformer, people will scream takeover. Just by making the deal, Peter MacKay has proved himself a weasel (even Alliance people who are glad he signed know what his deal was with Orchard), so he's out. The Clark-era Tories are overwhelmingly too old, and the Mulroney-era Tories are the people the early Reform party members were trying to escape. Klein and Harris have both said no.

This is the article James linked to last week on the John Tory suggestion. It's a pretty good idea, but what sort of idiot party would elect a leader based primarily on experience in municipal politics?

Oh, yeah. Mine.

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