Spirited race

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Liberal leadership contest populated by dreamers

The federal Liberal leadership race is becoming one big hoot and I’m not simply referring to Joe Volpe’s fundraising woes, his membership list problems, or his claim his Italian heritage is being used against him by the party elite.

No, Joe’s campaign is a laugh-a-long all the way.

That said, we do need more humour in politics.

Former hockey star—oh, ho—he prefers to be described as a ‘hockey great’—Ken Dryden is still kidding himself he’s a frontrunner and will make a top-notch prime minister.

Perhaps Ken is akin to former U.S. president Gerry Ford or onetime Alberta premier Don Getty, both of whom it is assumed received too many whacks in the head during their respective sports careers.

Ken is skating on politically thin ice.

There are just three ‘serious’ candidates in this fiasco: Former Ontario New Democrat premier Bob Rae, Harvard academic Michael Ignatieff, and sometime federal environment minister Stephane Dion.

The diminishing list of other candidates is even more evidence fewer candidates see themselves either (A) winning the leadership, or (B) beating Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the next election.

Harper stepped into the job as PM as if he had been groomed for it for a lifetime, and hasn’t put a foot wrong since moving into 24 Sussex Dr.

While in the polls his party is still where it was on election day, his personal popularity is such he really will pull the Conservatives into majority status.

Let’s peek at the three semi-serious contenders:

Ignatieff has just declared he’ll impose a carbon tax on fossil fuels that will be ‘welcomed’ by Alberta’s energy sector.

In making this statement, Ignatieff promised nothing his proposed Liberal regime did would be “an attack on a beloved province”—that province being Alberta.

Beloved province?

Now that should raise a chuckle.

Ignatieff—again the Harvard professor, BBC commentator in Britain, and world traveller—has barely stepped foot in any part of Canada during the past 30 years.

My guess is what he knows about Alberta would fit on a postcard.

Rae is haunted by two ghosts:

Ghost 1: Until recently—1992—Bob was still a member in good standing of the NDP, which actually loathes the Liberals. That is when Canada’s socialist fringe isn’t blackmailing the Grits into capitulating into spending taxpayer money on schemes taxpayers do not want and can’t afford.

The Grit elite see him as an opportunist, which he may well be.

Ghost 2: During his five-year stint as Ontario premier in the ‘90s, the province fell into economic, fiscal, social and labour chaos. Everything Bob touched fell apart. He hasn’t lost that touch for zany incompetence.

Finally, Dion—perhaps the most honest and maybe the only really honest man in the Jean Chretien/Paul Martin cabinets.

But he’s a blue-eyed dreamer. On several occasions when I had pleasant chats with him, he simply couldn’t understand why the Grits are so bitterly disliked in Alberta and why they can’t win a stack of seats here.

Dream on, Stephane.

Yet, we don’t need a dreamer running our nation, we need a realist.

That realist is Stephen Harper.


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