Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Federal Liblead Race -- The Roommates and the Visitor

Many people know that Liberal MPs Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff were once college roommates. Funny that.

Monday night I was discussing with a friend about how I now think this federal Liberal leadership race is turning into a coronation for Bob Rae. How so?--by eliminating the competition before the race even starts and "taking over" the party, which Bob seems to have done using his old Powercorp/Demarais connections, etc.

The Quebec Liberal wing tried to put into the rules that candidates had to be debt-free from the last race. While it didn't get implemented, the idea was put out there and basically immediately knocked out those with debt. They also put in a $90,000 entry fee (yikes!) and are limiting spending to $1.5 million (which isn't much).

Both play well for Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff.

So the other day Martha Hall Finlay decided not to run. Gerard Kennedy today announced that he's not running either. Both have around $200k of debt. It's too bad (for Liberals). I think Gerard is the type of renewal guy they need and not having any women doesn't look good either.

Bob Rae, on the other hand, did no such thing (not noticeable anyway). He actively supported Dion, and even defended the Green Shift. Iggy, not so much.

We also know MPs Dominic LeBlanc and Bob Rae are running. Michael Ignatieff hasn't decided if he's running yet, but he probably will. I think there's no doubt that Iggy and Co. were undermining Dion throughout his leadership, the by-elections, and especially watching him in the House of Commons whenever Dion spoke. Iggy is relatively new to Canadian politics and doesn't have the same power connections that Rae has had for some time.

I have no idea who LeBlanc is and likely neither do a lot of Canadians. Ontarians certainly know who, Bob Rae, their former premier, is, and while the left like him, the centre and centre-right likely does not at all one bit. The hope for the Liberals in this sense is that they would try to unite the left without actual merger with the NDP and Green. This would require fear mongering and attacking Stephen Harper to no end in typical Liberal fashion. Bob Rae doesn't stand for much other than trying to come across as a happy politician but attacking opponents whenever possible. With Iggy it's different. It would be a battle for the centre and a debate of actual ideas, yet I'm sure attacks would be in there for sure.

If no other candidates besides these three enter, LeBlanc has no hope as there are no other lesser candidates to support him on subsequent ballots like Kennedy did with Dion to allow him to shoot up the middle between Iggy and Rae. Which means Iggy can't win.

I'd assume LeBlanc has been well tied into the Liberal family for some time, with his father Romeo as a past Governor General, meaning I'd guess he'd be convinced to support Rae on the 2nd ballot for a plum cabinet post. Or more likely is his friend Warren Kinsella convincing him to go Iggy.

However, I don't know the insides of the Liberal party all that well and if there is a genuine desire for actual "renewal" like the Democrats and Americans did by electing Barack Obama, then LeBlanc has a chance. But I don't that's what Liberals want... an unknown. So if that spirit is there then Ignatieff is the guy. He's well spoken and intelligent.

But I do know the outsides of the Liberal Party (as do many of us) and when they mean "renewal", that's Liberal-speak for "power at all costs", so that translates to Bob Rae.

But I wonder if Bob Rae was supporting Dion so actively to try and chum his way into the Liberal party. Maybe Ignatieff has had the actual reins on the party since his last race.

Regardless, as I mentioned, Dominic LeBlanc is the guy visiting those old college roommates and the king-maker. Who will be the first to offer him a beer?


Anonymous said...

I percieve Dom as more to the right than the left (at least the liberal perception of right of center). That means if it came down to LeBlanc throwing support to the eventual winner I suspect it will be to Iggy.
This is to position himself for the next time when the liberals pick a francophone leader.

Anonymous said...

I somehow don't think Iggy has a chance after what Rae had done to used-car dealer Frank Miller, a Premier long ago.
Sandbagged him. Joined with Liberals to get the poor rube out.

Ignatieff no rube, but I think the prof is going to get schooled.