Thursday, December 11, 2008

The leadership shoe on the other foot now

(Reuters)

Andrew Steele demonstrating once more why he is one of my favourite new additions to the Globe, with this missile straight through the heart of the Harper PMO: "Who will replace Stephen Harper? Now beginning to percolate through the blogosphere, this is clearly a topic of interest to many. Some of us have been marvelling for eons about the continued loyalty to this divisive PM and his curious take on leadership and wondering when Conservatives would wake up. Perhaps now that it's being openly discussed, people will be, ahem, freed up a bit.

First off, it must be said how satisfying it is to see such talk when it's been Liberal leadership that has been the obsession of media and commentators pretty much for the bulk of Stephane Dion's tenure. Now that Michael Ignatieff's settled the leadership issue and by all accounts from yesterday's launch, appears to be a striking match for the Conservatives going forward, it's fitting that Conservatives take a look at the guy they've got and whether he'll be up to the job going forward. This Mulroneyesque fit of Senate stacking that Harper's got underway can't do much to solidify his image with his own troops. See picture above, looks nervous, again.

So who is in Steele's sights and a few thoughts on each...

Jim Prentice. He of Conservatives for Prentice fame. Steele does a good job canvassing his strengths and weaknesses. He's competent, yes, but isn't there a Prentice in every law firm in the country? What is special about him, really? Lack of inspiration. Still, he is a more reasonable prospect than many in the Harper crew.

Charest...yes, would seemingly be a front-runner. But agreed, open question as to his national appeal. And there's a tiresome factor, been around like for-evah. Are Quebecers really enamoured of him? Barely pulled out that majority, with Harper's inflammatory tactics, and Ignatieff's got some appeal in Quebec.

Stockwell Day and Tony Clement...these two I think are of comparable likelihood in terms of their chances. Slim to none. Day's former national baggage I would think would be prohibitive. Clement would no doubt run but he hasn't impressed as a Harper cabinet minister. Has come across as a lightweight, Stockwellesque in fact.

Junior MacKay? Would welcome this bid and he, like Clement, will no doubt run, but from these quarters, we are always pressed to see what exactly it is that Junior brings to the party. Plus there's that pesky franglais thing.

James Moore or Lisa Raitt: Moore, see MacKay, above. But with much less of the common man thing. As for Lisa Raitt, Steele writes, "If the Conservatives decide to completely change the face of their party, they could hardly do better than James Moore or Lisa Raitt." Well, yes, she is a fresh face and she does bask in the glow of the Kinsella love. But choosing a woman to put a new stamp on the face of the Conservative party...hasn't always worked out so well. Try adopting some fresh policies that resonate with women instead.

The big omissions? What about John Baird? Or is the disappearance of his website a harbinger of his diminished future? What of Jason Kenney and his ethnic community powerhouse? No? John Tory? He likes to run for things. Doesn't win much, but he always seems up for it...:)

A welcome topic of discussion...let the games begin...:)