Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Liberal Leadership: Who I would like to win and who I think will win

And they are not the same person.

Let me preface my remarks by stating that I am not a delegate at the convention and I am not a partisan for any of the leadership camps.

With the exception of Joe Volpe I would be comfortable supporting the Liberal Party regardless of which of the candidates were to lead it but I do have my preference of who that should be.

My first choice: Bob Rae

I have always liked Bob Rae. Even when he was the leader of the Ontario NDP it was obvious he was a liberal and not a socialist. I like his ideas and the way he thinks. I believe he is the only candidate with the right combination of good ideas, political and governing experience, sound political instincts and electability and I believe he has the qualities to be a good party leader and a good PM.

I do have some concerns about the influence the Power Corp. crowd will have on him but they will insinuate themselves into a position of influence no matter who wins the leadership so I can live with those concerns.

His record as Premier of Ontario is a drawback to be certain. However, Ontarians also remember the Harris/Eves days including the current Federal Finance Minister, who as the Ontario Finance Minister, managed to miscalculate (hide) a $5 billion deficit. So it would be a wash.

My second choice: Michael Ignatieff

His stock has been steadily rising in my eyes since he got into the race. I always liked the idea of his participation because he is an outsider with a big brain so I believed he would be able to shake things up a bit and get Liberals outside of their comfort zone but beyond that I did not consider him to be a serious candidate.

My view has changed over the last months. He has certainly done what I had hoped he would do. I have liked a lot of his ideas. I like the fact he does not appear to be averse to taking some political risks, and there is no doubting his liberalism, regardless of how his opponents paint him. But what really caught my attention was how he handled himself as the front runner in the race. As is the fate of all front runners he faced relentless attacks by his opponents and he faced them with poise and grace. If someone was contorting my life’s work and using it against me I do not believe that I would be so sanguine about it.

What that has shown me is he would be able to weather anything that Stephen Harper threw at him, probably making Stephen Harper look foolish, petulant and mean spirited in the process. That is electability.

All of this would have made him my first choice except that he has virtually no political experience. Jean Chrétien was a successful PM because of his decades of political experience and because he knew where all of the bodies were buried. Mr. Ignatieff lacks that completely so I do not believe that he would be as effective a PM as Mr. Rae. It is no use having big ideas if you are limited in your ability to make them a reality.

My third choice: Stephane Dion

Canadians owe Mr. Dion a debt of gratitude for his very effective battles against the separatists over the years. The Clarity Act was a thing of beauty.

He would make a great PM however I do not believe that he would ever have the opportunity.

Mr. Dion was my second choice until he threw that hissy fit in Montreal. Certainly, the Ignatieff supporters showed no class in heckling him but someone who would be PM must take that in good humour instead of having a whiny temper tantrum. He can expect much worse from Stephen Harper and if he ever did that during a general election campaign the Liberals would be toast. Combine that with the fact he could not even carry his home province in delegate selection, despite being the only candidate from Quebec, and you have someone who cannot win an election.

The remainder in order are: Brison, Dryden, Hall-Findley and Kennedy.

All would be good party leaders but none of them have any hope of beating Stephen Harper.

With regard to Mr. Kennedy, it is very rare for a provincial politician to make the jump directly from provincial politics to the PM’s chair. The only hope that he had of bucking that trend was by proving himself as a spectacular candidate. He failed.

I would never choose Mr. Volpe even if he were the only candidate left.

So who will win? Michael Ignatieff.

My opinion has not changed from six weeks ago, when I blogged about this, because the main dynamic that I described in that blog is still the reality. There is still no one who is THE alternative to Michael Ignatieff. I was hoping the Mr. Rae would have done so in the in the last six weeks but regrettably that is not the case.

Mr. Ignatieff still has a substantial lead over his opponents in delegate and ex officio support. There is no single alternative to him and it is likely that he now has a lock on the Quebec delegates. That is a recipe for victory. It will not be an overwhelming victory but I believe that he will eke out the win in the end.

All that being said I could be wrong so I guess we will have to wait until Saturday to know for certain.


Blogger CuriosityCat said...

Macleans had Innovative Research Group poll the standings of the Big 4 contenders (1,495 Canadians between November 23 and 27, margin of error plus minus 2.5%).

Some snapshots:

Ignatieff had "relatively unimpressive showing" in answer to the question "is he the kind of leader who will protect the interests of people like me". Bob Rae and Dion came out on top (25% agree he is), Kennedy (21%) and Ignatieff only 17%. Bob Rae and Ignatieff had the same total of those who strongly disagreed or did not know (41% and 42% respectively).

"One striking finding for Mr Dion is that he is the least liked Liberal candidate among Bloc supporter. This no doubt relates to pas role as a federalist champion and his leadership on the Clarity Act." 66% of Bloc respondents disagreed that Dion would protect the interests of people like them (for Rae it was 54%, Kennedy 48% and Ignatieff 53%).

"The assumed leadership front-runner, Michael Ignatieff, only holds his own with current Liberal supporters and has little appeal with supporters of other parties and those currently undecided".

"Bob Rae also does well with current Liberal voters. He also polls very strongly amongst supporters of his former party, the NDP."

Only 31% of Liberals believe Ignatieff is the kind of leader to protect the interests of people like them (Rae: 51%, a sizeable 20% more than Ignatieff).

Amongst the NDP, only 11% think Ignatieff will protect their interests, while 39% thought Bob Rae would (28% more than Ignatieff).

A whopping 53% of NDP disagreed that Ignatieff was the kind of leader to protect the interests of people like them (Rae only 26%).

The news for Harper is not good either: just over 35% of voters say they are more comfortable with the idea of a Conservative majority now then they used to be (virtually the same number who voted Tory in January), while 49% are NOT more comfortable. That Harper pond just is not growing any bigger ...

November 30, 2006 12:23 PM  
Blogger CuriosityCat said...

Hot on the heels of the Macleans poll by Innovative, comes the Decima poll for CP, saying more Canadians believe Bob Rae is the one who should lead the Liberals, rather than Ignatieff:
"Canadian Press
Published: Thursday, November 30, 2006

MONTREAL (CP) - A new national poll suggests Canadians of every federalist party persuasion believe that Bob Rae is a more electable option as Liberal leader than top rival Michael Ignatieff.

The Nov. 24-26 Decima Research survey found that Rae's perceived winnability topped Ignatieff's by a significant margin in every region of the country except Quebec. More than 1,000 respondents were asked by Decima to picture themselves as delegates to this weekend's leadership convention in Montreal

In a final-ballot showdown between front-runner Ignatieff and Rae, they were asked who they felt had the best chance to win for the Liberals in the next election.

Under this scenario, 37 per cent chose Rae and 25 per cent picked Ignatieff.

The results of the poll, which was distributed to The Canadian Press, are considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Decima CEO Bruce Anderson says the poll suggests Rae's winnability factor is perceived to be higher among all age groups, men and women, urban and rural voters, and everywhere but Quebec - where Ignatieff would get 36 per cent support and Rae 25 per cent.
Ignatieff also led in the poll among self-identified Bloc Quebecois voters.
© The Canadian Press 2006"

November 30, 2006 2:25 PM  
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November 30, 2006 3:27 PM  

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