Friday, November 17, 2006

Chantal Hebert plays Santa

Some talk in the blogsphere this morning about Toronto Star columnist Chantal Hebert's piece this morning on electability and the Liberal leadership race. Ms. Hebert plays Santa, writing something that each of the frontrunners can extract to bolster their campaigns. Well, except Dion, she's just plain mean to my guy. :)

In the piece she dissects the weaknesses (mainly) and strengths (not as much) of each of Iggy, Rae, Kennedy and Dion with an eye toward electability. My read was that she pretty much thinks they all suck, or, at least, that they all have issues and none of them particularly stand-out.

If you're looking to put a bit more of a partisan spin on it though there's ammunition for you no matter whom you support.

For example, you could pull out the criticisms of the other three, gloss over the criticism of your own guy, and say that Hebert somehow concluded "Gerard was the most electable" or implied he'll win. You could focus on how he's "best in Western Canada, Ontario." Or, you could pull out just the criticism of Gerard and declare his growth-potential in Quebec "non-existent." Also, you could pull-out the criticism of Dion and use it to makes the case he lacks "the royal jelly."

The same could be done by pulling-out the criticisms of Kennedy, Ignatieff and Rae.

For fun, I've pulled-out the commentary on each candidate, positive and negative. I'll leave the interpretation to you, but be back with some editorial comment afterward.

Stephane Dion

Positive: Dion…would likely hang onto the Quebec seats the party currently has.

Negative: His Quebec prospects are severely limited by his track record on the post-referendum front (and because) there is simply not a lot of appetite out there for another Quebec prime minister. He is well on the way to becoming the Liberals' Preston Manning, a favourite with pundits but not with most voters.

Gerard Kennedy

Positive: Best placed to hang onto the Ontario base of the party. Also is likely to do well in the parts of Western Canada where the NDP is the main opposition to the Liberals. Would likely hang onto the Quebec seats the party currently has.

Negative: Shortcomings in French. Growth potential in Quebec is non-existent. Has failed to make an impression on the province. If he were chosen as leader over three fluently bilingual opponents, many Quebecers would see his victory as a sign that winning their province is not a priority for the Liberals.

Bob Rae

Positives: Potential to increase the party's support in Quebec…could realistically hope to recoup the federalist seats the party lost in the January election. New Democrat credentials play well with the progressive voters the party needs to become a force in Quebec again. Elsewhere in Canada, Rae could also attract a share of the NDP vote.

Negatives: Record as a failed premier could also lose the party support. With an economic downturn on the horizon, some Ontario voters would be bound to have second thoughts about going into another uncertain economic period with Rae at the helm.

Michael Ignatieff

Positives: Potential to increase the party's support in Quebec…could realistically hope to recoup the federalist seats the party lost in the January election. His support for the extension of the Afghan mission could win him votes on the right; his suggestion of a carbon tax on greenhouse gas emissions could attract votes on the left; his openness to the recognition of Quebec as a nation could open doors in francophone Quebec.

Negatives: All three could also lose the party support in crucial areas of the country. Taking calculated risks served Harper well in the last election but it is not always clear that Ignatieff's gambles always add up to sound strategy.


Taking all that, as I said there's lots for people in any camp to use to either bolster their guy or attack the candidate/s they perceive as their biggest threat/s. Realistically though, there's no ringing endorsement for anyone.

I'd say she was the least positive on Dion, and as a Dion koolaider I naturally feel that's like totally unfair. Well, I'd think it was unfair anyway. Honest. But before I address her negatives on Stephane, let me make-up for her lack of Dion positives in this column by offering this quote from a past Chantal column:

"If the Liberals are to move them past those episodes, they may have to look beyond Cauchon, perhaps to the brainy St├ęphane Dion, to help them get there. If this is to be a Liberal year when talking heads matter more than political animals, a rare time when participating in the race could be as important as winning it, Dion would be a good fit for this campaign."

Maybe she liked Preston too. On the negatives side, Jason has already responded and I'd just add (just a sec, let me check my official Dion blogging campaign talking points) that there's nothing new here, the Quebec criticisms are the same we've heard for years, and all campaign. I've already outlined at length why I disagree. I'd also present Harper's cratering poll numbers in Quebec as further evidence the Martin/Lapierre strategy some in this race are trying to replicate is doomed to failure. As for the Manning comment, a look at both the delegate votes and the ex-officio endorsements puts lie to that assertion.


As I commented over at Olaf's (a rather readable choice for Best Conservative Blog, btw...and speaking of the CBAs, did I mention I've been endorsed by Pierre Trudeau?) the worst hangover I ever had was in university from purplesaurusrex koolade and vodka. Man, was it delish, but it hurt like hell the next morning. I suspect many of us will have severe koolade hangovers Dec. 3.

But then we'll dust ourselves off, drink some hair of the dog, and once again focus our partisan sniping and spin where it belongs: The Harper Conservatives. And I very much look forward to that day. :)

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


MississaugaPeter said...

Gerard wins because for the first time, Chantal has acknowledged his existence (even though he is one of the TOP 3 after the DSM).

Stating that Gerard would not lose any seats in Quebec and would keep Ontario seats and gain seats out west is SIGNIFICANT considering Chantal did not even acknowledge his existence prior to this article.

Aristo said...


As always you give a fair assesment of the WHOLE article
I think I might go over and vote for you now.

Jason Bo Green said...

At this point, I've pretty much let go of the leadership and am not paying any further attention - it's all gotten too bitter and too nasty (and too blind), so I'll just find out in December who won, and let that be that. I've got no more appetite for Jason and Ted and all the rest of them. Hebert's article was a good one, though, and this post was good, too.

DivaRachel said...

Chantal said GK has short term QC problems. SHORT TERM. that means he can recover by the election after the next one! Plenty of time for his French to better Harpers' ! :-)

UWHabs said...

Yeah, the article's not bad on Gerard, but it's in no way as positive as Justin Trudeau was recently. I mean, I think the only reason people are even debating why this is a big win for Gerard is the fact that she was the least mean about him. I know after reading it I didn't get a big, "Oh yes! This will put Kennedy over the top for good!" feeling.

A BCer in Toronto said...

I'll allow for a morale victory for the Gerard fans then (Chantal knows our name, sweet!) but that doesn't amount to the endorsement implied by some.

Rachel, she said Gerard's growth potential in Quebec was "non-existent". That's pretty damming. is it permanent? Of course not. Can it be overcome by a spring election? That's more debateable.

But my point wasn't to pick on any one candidate, just to make the point Chantal picked on them all.

Anonymous said...

First of all folks, give your heads a shake. What Justin Trudeau thinks means diddly - at least to all the people I talk to. In fact, our inept media in desperation for some news keep forcing Justin Trudeau on us together with Brittany's split with Fed-ex and don't forget Tom and Kate are getting married in Italy - wow what news eh?

Pierre Trudeau has his time as PM but the Liberal party is NOT Pierre Trudeau - it's a party that's been around long before him and long after - he's just a "moment" in history. Let's get this thing in the right perspective here.

It's not fair at all to compare Ignatieff and Dion to Trudeau. I'm sure each want to be their own person - not a clone.

Too much is made of the Trudeau thing and it's so, so tiresome.

Speaking of Pierre Trudeau (and the neverending obsession with a couple of gaffe's made by Ignatieff) Trudeau took a long time to decide how he thinks - he was for communism, he was a CCF, he believed for a while in facsism, during WWII he was galavanting around while others were fighting against Hitler - he didn't think Hitler was the problem the rest of the world thought. Gaffe's made by Ignatieff were ever so minor compared to the scattered thoughts of Trudeau and yet he's held in such high regard. It's not that he was so wonderful over of "Liberal PM's" it was Trudeaumania - period. He had charisma like a celibrity and he put Canada on the map because of his womanizing with movie stars, etc.

This is about the "Liberal Party" NOT Trudeau - he's gone, had his time and it's time to move on.

This is just not fair to Ignatieff or Dion - both of which are every bit if not more intelligent than Trudeau.

You can't have another Trudeau just like there can't be another Churchill.

Well, I may be wrong here - we do have another Stalin and his name is Harper.