Thursday, September 14, 2006

The candidates: Carolyn Bennett

The Globe and Mail is offering a live discussion with each of the Liberal candidates for the leadership race. On Wednesday, candidate Dr. Carolyn Bennett fielded questions, one of which was my own. See website for details:

Daniel Sturgis, Rabat Morocco: Thank you for fielding questions today, Dr Bennett. My question is, what was your stance as the recent war in Lebanon developed? If elected PM, would you consider sending a contingent of troops there as part of the peace-keeping mission?

Carolynn Bennett: Daniel, I think that Canada's number one job is promoting the dialogue that is necessary for an enduring peace in the Middle East. I think that the proposal for us using our navy to help stop the arms to Hezbollah is interesting. I had voted against the prolongation of our mission in Afghanistan in order for the government to have more flexibility in emerging issues, such as those in southern Lebanon.

Discussion of the answer. It was a bit of a Brian Mulrony answer. Our former PM, loved by some, hated by many, had a knack for responses that danced around questions without really answering them clearly. While I agree with her main point, that dialogue is important, and this in itself was a step in the neutral referee direction which I feel current PM Harper should have taken but didn't, she really just scratched at the surface of the issue where I would liked to have seen her show some deeper understanding. I haven't heard the idea of a naval contingent being discussed before, but regardless, it was my assumption that Hizbullah received most of its arms overland through Syria. A naval blockade wouldn't be all that effective and besides, would unlikely have a mandate to inspect the massive quantities of imports into Lebanon. Essentially, it would just be a sitting duck target if Hizbullah or Israel got angry and wanted to blow something up.
I also disagree with her stance on Afghanistan. We contributed to the mess over there, and it's our duty to see it through, not back out when the going gets rough. While I agree our strategy needs to be discussed, continually revised, and perhaps quickened so that we are more responsive to the changing dynamics of the country, not maintaining our presence as long as necessary could set a dangerous precedent.

On many of her other questions, some of which were very difficult and I'd also struggle to answer them. I found her answers to be less than satisfactory. I also found she answered very few questions in her allotted one hour. There was the question of the Gomery inquiry, where she responded by saying she wanted to build the party from the bottom up and some analagy about sunlight being the best disinfectant.
For me, the perfect answer would have mentioned that there are trillions of dollars in government spending. While the PM would like to keep their eye on every cent, it's impossible. The Gomery inquiry shows Canada is a healthy country where the government is held accountable. It in fact brought down a government, and the lesson I take from it is to keep a close eye on spending and instigate more checks and balances.

Carolyn Bennett as the next PM? She may be a likable person, but she doesn't have the political savvy to lead the Liberals effectively. I find her neither charismatic nor particularly engaging. From what little I've heard, her policies remind me of Jack Layton's.

While initially supporting Dion, I'm waiting to hear his debate. I'm rocking between three candidates right now, Dion, Kennedy and Dryden. With Dion barely hanging on in the drivers seat at the moment only because I see him as having the most popularity of the three.


Sara said...

I got a run around from her too, my view was the childcare one. FOr that reason Dryden will never sit well with me but so far for Liberal Dion is better than the rest on the childcare issue that is.

Daniel said...

Yeah, I'm not impressed at all. Although I was surprised by Ms Findlay yesterday. She did very well.