Now that the Liberals are back up in the polls, the speculation has shifted from replacing Paul to replacing Steve. And that’s fair enough. While Martin has lusted for power his entire life, I get the sense that Stephen Harper’s internal monologue on most days would be something like:
“Why on earth do I have to shake hands and smile and talk to people…I hate people. And why am I doing this? I’m a smart guy, I’ve made the party moderate, and I’ve got an incompetent ditherer with the biggest scandal in our lifetimes as an opponent and I still can’t crack 30% in the polls…this is absolutely ridiculous! It’s not worth the time, effort and half an hour it takes me every morning to get my hair looking so spectacular for this…”
So I think it’s safe to say he’ll quietly walk away if he loses the election. Which raises the obvious succession question and hence all the Belinda talk of late. Now, I’m not overly plugged in to the Tory ground war but I figure I’ll give a quick run down of the contenders for leadership as I see them – mainly since I’m starting to get a little tired of writing posts on polls and election speculation. Any Conservatives who know more than myself are invited to weigh in with their thoughts.
1. Peter MacKay – I know I’m going against the popular train of thought, but I think Ken has a much better chance to win than Barbie. I just can’t imagine the hard right Conservative members backing her whereas they might be willing to compromise on MacKay. The Orchard deal will hurt him but at least it shows he’s cutthroat enough to win.
2. Bernard Lord – I’m firmly convinced that Bernard Lord would be Prime Minister today and Paul Martin would be milking cows on the Martin farm had Bernie decided to throw his hat in the ring for the Tory leadership last year. Admittedly, you can count the number of premiers who have successfully jumped to federal politics on one amputated hand but he’s the best they have. The only reason I don’t have him at the top of the list is because of the unstable minority government they have in New Brunswick right now.
3. Insane Right Winger To Be Named Later – I’m not sure who it will be, but this party has a reputation for shooting themselves in the foot. I think there are enough grass roots Conservatives who either don’t care about winning or haven’t learned their lesson from the Stockwell Day/Stephen Harper fiascos. I could see a strong groundswell of support for…Stockwell Day. Don’t laugh. Rick Mercer will endorse him, I’m sure. Jason Kenney is another guy I wouldn’t count out. The never married 36 year old’s strong fight for the traditional definition of marriage could play well among a lot of the grass roots members.
4. Belinda Stronach – Yeah, she’s good looking and very moderate which would finally put all this “hidden agenda” nonsense to bed. And seeing the Canadian Prime Minister in the US tabloids would be kind of cool. But I just can’t see Belinda succeeding until she:
a) learns French
b) learns how to give a speech without reading it word for word from a paper
c) shows she’s got some smarts and/or political savvy
And, like I said, I can’t see the old Alliance crowd supporting her.
Great candidates who likely won’t run
James Moore – This guy is a future PM. Very smart, very well spoken, right where he needs to be right and left where he needs to be left. He’s likely too young to win this time but keep an eye on him, he’s going places.
Rona Ambrose – Belinda’s looks and Harper’s smarts. She’s not seen as a fanatical Alliance lunatic but is still conservative enough that the old Reformers might back her. She’s a bit of an unknown but I think she’s got a very bright future.
Monte Solberg – Deserves it, if only because his blog is one million times more interesting than “Paul’s blog” from when Martin ran for leadership.
Weak candidates who just might run
Jim Prentice – His SSM stand makes him seem more moderate but I just can’t see him finishing ahead of the other “moderate” candidates. And I know he’s really despised by a lot of Conservatives in Calgary.
Tony Clement – Seems to enjoy losing so much that he might just give it another try. Plus, I’m sure he’s closing in on the record for political defeats in a three year span.
Rahim Jaffer – If nothing else, he’d have a great attendance record in Question Period as Prime Minister since his assistant could impersonate him on days Rahim is too busy to attend.
Just throwing them out there for discussion. And I’ve opened up the comments section of this blog to everyone so comment away.