However, the case of Mark Warner is quite interesting. At first glance, Mark sounds like exactly the type of candidate the Tories need. He's an international trade lawyer with a fantastic bio who obviously cares enough about his party to be willing to lose to Bob Rae. Considering some of the questionable candidates the Tories have let run for them in recent by elections, this one seems even weirder.
But, you see, there are some major problems with Mark. For starters, he attended an international AIDS conference in Toronto last year - a big no-no considering some of the questionable characters who attended.
Mark's also been talking about Toronto centric issues. You know, things like poverty, housing, and Andrew Raycroft's poor play. Given that real leaders set priorities and that these are not in Harper's top priorities, it would have been insane to allow a Conservative candidate to talk about these issues for fear of people getting the wrong idea that they mattered to the Conservatives.
Makes sense. Given the bedrock of Tory support that exists in the GTA, why on earth would you want a strong candidate talking about issues that matter to Torontonians?
UPDATE: I know Stephen Harper is a smart guy but I don't really think every move he makes is part of some master Machiavellian plan. Today's Star suggests that these moves are intended to boost the NDP in a gambit to defeat the Liberals.
First of all, Toronto Centre is a safe seat. And not the same way Outremont is a safe seat. The Liberals got twice the votes of their nearest competitor last time out - the real battle there is for second and I fail to see how it figures into Harper's master plan for his party to finish behind the NDP in a city they would hope to, one imagines, one day win some seats.
As for Guelph, where Brent Barr was forced out it's even more perplexing. Here are the 2006 results:
Even though the NDP have a good candidate running, I fail to see how the second place party self-sabotaging would help defeat the Liberals. And, unlike in Toronto Centre where there may be an anti-Rae vote, I tend to seriously doubt the hypothesis that the second choice of soft Tory voters is the NDP.