Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Liberal renewal or Rats jumping off the sinking ship?

As a sometimes-Liberal voter, alienated by the Martin coup, I was initially heartened by Paul Martin's election-night resignation. Like many, I was optimistic that this would give the party time for renewal, perhaps in the form of a big policy convention/retreat, followed by a wide-open leadership race. If the party is to rediscover its sense of purpose, this is badly needed.

I'm not sure what to make of the parade of would-be candidates announcing that they don't intend to run - Manley, McKenna, Tobin. None of them appealed much to me personally, but I would have thought that they would at least make a go of it, and be part of the process. It is making me wonder what Liberal insiders know that makes potential candidates so wary of throwing their hats into the ring. Perhaps everyone is just tired of the in-fighting, and predicts that the next leadership race will be an equally ugly battle. Maybe people are hoping for the knight in shining armour.

Unfortunately, the pattern has now been set over the past week of pre-emptive denials of leadership ambitions. I'd expect a few more before the week is through, including Belinda Stronach, Scott Brison, and, unfortunately in my opinion, Stephane Dion. Lots of journalists, bloggers and "average Canadians" in English-speaking Canada like Dion, and with good reason. He's a decent individual, with a good brain in his head. But he has long denied any ambitions for leadership of the party, and I don't see that changing now. This race might feature far fewer faces than initially expected.

I do hope that some good contenders step forward. However, I fear that the reality is that Martin's team, in their quest for pointless power, alienated far too many people and pushed them out of the Liberal party. I'm not sure that many will have the drive to come back now to take on the thankless job of repairing the damage that they did. Canadian politics seems to held in great contempt right now, and I doubt that many non-politicians would choose now as their moment to leap into the fray. I sincerely hope that I'm wrong.

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At 7:44 pm, Blogger Idealistic Pragmatist said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. As an NDP voter, you'd think I'd find this full of opportunities for schadenfreude, but honestly, it's just making me cringe. I'd rather this country not have a "natural governing party," but if it's going to have one, I'm going to want that party to be in good shape, with a leader I can actually imagine as PM.


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