Monday, August 28, 2006

Canadian Liberal Leadership race

Currently, there are dozens of candidates vying for leadership of Canada's Liberal party. But the race, as far as I can see at the moment, comes down to a few main contenders. Some people even say it comes down to two.
The scary part is, both of these two front runners, IMO, are liabilities. In fact, I'm feeling a sense of American democratic leadership race deja vu.
A few years back, it was Kerry vs. Dean. The man who would take on GWB for the next presidential election. I liked Howard Dean. He said what needed to be said, that the Iraq war was a mistake. He had a platform to stand on, and that platform was to attack the incompetence of the Bush Administration.
But Kerry comes out of nowhere, gets sympathy for being a war hero, milks the war hero sentiment and gives a line just enough voters wanted to hear at the time in order to elect him. "Iraq was the right thing to do."
Kerry won, and the famous Dean Scream ensued. I don't blame Howard Dean for screaming. He saw his country going down the tubes. He forsaw what the short-sighted American voter couldn't, that Kerry shot himself in one foot as he squeezed the other into the door. He now had no angle to take Bush on for his biggest mistake, Iraq, which directly led to Bush's other major embarassments, fiscal irresponsibility, lies, faulty intelligence. Kerry failed to convince me he was better than Bush, which Peewee Herman could have done for goodness sakes. With one foot shot and the other in the door, Dick Cheney must have been waiting with his shotgun on the other side, for Kerry's other foot was shot, or perhaps his entire leg, leaving him without a leg to stand on and paving way for the Republicans to attack him for flip flopping. Bush must have been laughing, if not underhandedly helping finance Kerry, the easier of the two opponents to beat. Sorry about all the bad analagies, they were just too tempting.

Back to Canadian politics, and I see the same conundrum coming up again. The two front runners, like Kerry had done to the democrats, may succeed in reaching out and acquiring just enough votes to get them the Liberal leadership. In the end, they will fail to resonate with enough Canadian voters to win an election. The actual situation is much worse.

Ignatieff, the current front runner.

In some ways, the guy's a mirror image of Kerry. He actually supported the preemptive war in Iraq months prior to the invasion. While a celebrated acedemic with numerous accomplishments, this one fact, if spun properly by the current party in power, the Conservatives, I forsee potentially shattering Ignatieff's support base. Canadians don't like the Iraq war, it was something the Liberals got really really right. Are the hardcore Liberals likely to vote for an admitted supporter of the Iraq-war. If Iggy gets elected as leader of the Liberals, I predict the Conservatives will sail to a majority in the next election. Like Kerry, he's giving up a major route to attack current Prime Minister Stephen Harper for what I see as Harper's biggest weaknesses, ie. his closeness to Bush.

Bob Rae, the close-second at the moment.

Bob Rae is perhaps the only worse candidate, in my mind, than Ignatieff. While the man may be very clever, a Rhodes scholar, with a similar dossier of accomplishments to Ignatieff. Politically, he's suicide to lead the Liberals. Ontario is Canada's largest province population wise, and is where the Liberal party wins and loses elections. Conservatives have a stranglehold on the West of Canada at the moment, the Bloc Quebecois dominate Quebec. Here comes Bob Rae, the most unpopular premier in Ontario's history. If he leads the party, seats in the Liberal heartland will be lost on an unprecedented scale. If Rae is elected as Liberal leader, I forsee him sending the Liberal party into obscurity, perhaps with even less votes than the flailing NDP.

The rest of the dozen or more candidates are a mixed bag. Ken Dryden, a hall-of-fame goaltender and notable lawyer and business man is a notable canditate. Dion seems to be a popular choice as well, sorry but I haven't done my research yet. He hasn't been scrutinized as much as the other candidates.

I've been a tentative Liberal supporter for years.
The current party in power, led by Stephen Harper, isn't ideal, but is tolerable. He's a bit too cosy with the Bush administration. I have serious misgivings about his support of Israel especially in their recent invasion of Lebanon. I also see him awarding too many plush contracts to friendly companies at the expense of Canada's healthy economic surpluses.

The only speck of good news is, no matter what happens, George Bush won't be leading my country.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not an anti-American. I'm anti-Bush. The man has single-handedly turned the most beloved and respected country in the world into the most loathed. Not the best legacy to leave behind and one that will take decades of careful diplomacy to repair.

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