Monday, October 27, 2008

The Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada

The federal Liberal Party in Canada suffered their worst result ever as a political party and Stephane Dion is stepping down as leader. A leadership race will shortly be under way.

Traditionally the Liberals have switched between Anglophone and Franophone leaders since the Liberals were the first party to have a Francophone as leader when they selected Wilfrid Laurier in 1887.

A quick interesting factoid, Laurier and his successor King lead the Liberal party from 1887 to 1948. Over 60 years.

Mackenzie, Laurier, King, St. Laurent, Pearson, Trudeau, Turner, Chretien, Martin, and Dion is the lost of the leaders.

It is actually a myth that there is an alternating anglo/franco thing going on in the Liberals. Trudeau was from a mixed French and English background and grew up in Canada's most bi-lingual city. Paul Martin is also of mixed English and French background. What is more accurate is that the Liberals have alternated between Ontario and Quebec for leaders. The one person they have had as a leader that is not fully in Ontario or Quebec was John Turner who spent his university days at UBC and was the step son of Frank Ross, the Lieutenant Govenor of BC from 1955 to 1959.

This brings me to the current race and the two clear front runners - Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff.

Michael Ignatieff would be change for the Liberals because he would be the first time the party chose a leader that was not from a British of French ancestry.

What is most interesting about the race is what it lacks. There seem to be no one seriously considering a woman as leader. In 2008 it would seem to be inconcievable that a major party in Canada did not have at least one major female candidate for leader. I also find it baffling that no one is talking about it being time the Liberals open themselves up to have a woman lead the party.

Carole Taylor, Liberal MLA and finance minister in BC, sounded like a very good idea. Certainly the only person currently in the race that is on a par with her political and life experience is Bob Rae. Carole does not come with the baggage that Bob Rae comes with. A woman from BC but with roots in Ontario with strong media skills and a good governing track record would be a brilliant choice for the Liberals.

So who are the women being talked about wanting to launch a leadership bid?

Ruby Dhalla is on the list, but she is only 30 and does not have a long track record in politics as an MP. I simply can not see the Liberals choosing her.

Martha Hall-Finlay did much better in the 2006 leadership race than anyone expected, though still only recieved 2.7% of the votes. In many ways I saw here 2006 race a way for her to promote herself above the fray and have pundits see her as a leader in the party and cabinet material. She has succeeded in that, but I do not know if she has the support to make a run for the leadership and have any chance of winning.

She was also the only woman on the ballot in 2006.

There is only one other woman that has ever run for the leadership, Sheila Copps. In 1990 she came a distant third in the race and in 2003 she was smoked by Paul Martin.

It is now 2008, there has got to be some serious women that could step up and run for the leadersip of the party. The NDP has had two women leaders. The PCs had Kim Campbell and the new Conservative Party had a strong challenge from Belinda Stronach. The Bloc had Fracine Lalonde make serious runs in 1996 and 1997 . The Liberals are the only ones completely out of the running when it comes to women.

Why is someone like Marlene Jennings not making a run for the leadership? 11 years in parliament, bilingual and comfortably was re-elected.

How about Carolyn Bennett making a run at it - she wasin the race in 2006 but pulled out.

Albina Guarnieri has all the exeperience needed to make a run, so why not her?

I do not know if Anita Neville from Winnipeg can speak French, but if she can, she would make another serious person for the leadership. Poeple took Ken Dryden seriously in 2006 when he ran for the leadership and did not speak French.

BC has not only Carole Taylor to offer, but Joyce Murray and Hedy Fry. I have no idea if Murray or Fry speak French, but both of them are at least as a good a candidate as many of the people that ran in 2006.

So given the fact that the Liberals have strong women in their party that are at least as good as Stephane Dion or Michael Ignatieff, why is the media not talking about them? Why are they not running?

Seriously, why is Marlene Jennings or Carole Tayolor not running to be leader of the party? Both of them would be better choices than any of the men that have put their names forward.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The whole Ignatieff/ Rae thing is odd. The two best Liberal choices for leader are either someone who has never held government office and has spent most of his career outside the country, who was opposed to the most popular decision of the last Liberal government (the decision to stay out of the Iraq War); or a major politician from the other party who is considered to be a failure at running the most populous province. At least nominal liberals are premiers in the three most populous provinces, and the Liberals were in power just two years ago and presumably had tons of ministers. This really doesn't make sense. I actually thought that Dion had been the best choice for the Liberals the last time because at least for most of his adult life he belonged to the party and lived in the country.