Liberal leadership race heats up

In my last post, I speculated that New Brunswick Liberal MP (and son of a former Governor General) Dominic LeBlanc would throw his hat into the ring for leadership of the Liberal Party. Today, LeBlanc became the first MP to announce his intentions to seek the leadership running between Ignatieff on the relative right and Rae on the left of the party.

I’ve learned some other details about who might back a LeBlanc bid for leadership. I suggested yesterday that a Martin adviser such as Steve MacKinnon would back LeBlanc. With McKenna expected to remain outside of the race, I mused that MacKinnon may go LeBlanc. However, I’ve learned today that the former national director of the Liberal Party will likely back Ignatieff while communications gurus from Paul Martin’s PMO such as Scott Reid and Tim Murphy will be more likely to back the New Brunswick MP while a Liberal insider I spoke to expects John Duffy to go with Rae.

If Ujjal Dosanjh enters the race (if he survives a putative court challenge for a recount), he is expected to do so for the purpose of gathering BC delegates for Bob Rae.

Conservatives and New Democrats I have spoken with have previously feared a bid by Bob Rae. Conservatives believe that Rae will unite and polarize the left while the NDP fears massive hemorrhaging of their membership for Rae. Recently, however, Conservatives are more bullish on their future against a Rae-led Liberal Party as the Global Economic Crisis has severely diminished Rae’s futures on the leadership market. Conservatives would easily remind Canadians of Bob Rae’s tenure during Ontario’s last economic recession and would make the case that Rae days would soon return.

As for second tier candidates, Ruby Dhalla is considering a bid. Sources of mine in Brampton–Springdale have told me that even during the election (before the knives were in Dion’s back), Dhalla told Punjabi language radio that she would be running for the Liberal leadership. Dhalla is seen to be on the right-flank of the Liberal Party and backed Ignatieff’s bid during the 2006 leadership race so unless her candidacy caches fire, she may be building proxy support for the other Liberal professor.

Woe for my love of a great comedy, Justin Trudeau is not expected to jump into the leadership race. Indeed, the son of the former Liberal Prime Minister has not yet got his feet wet in the House of Commons. Trudeau is expected to back LeBlanc as the current standard-bearer of the next generation of Liberal leaders. Trudeau backed former Ontario-cabinet minister Gerard Kennedy for leadership in 2006. Kennedy is testing the waters for entry into this contest, however, many believe that as Dion’s kingmaker, Kennedy may sit this one out to put some time between this aberration and his ambition.

Yesterday, former Chretien finance minister John Manley tested the waters in a most self-deprecating way but found none to dive into as he metaphorically suggested. The author of the Harper-initiated Manley Report was seen by many Liberals as betrayal to a weakened, embarrassed and voiceless party on the opposition benches. Manley may find redemption in his party by organizing for a front-running candidate and this would have the benefit of keeping his name in the minds of Liberal partisans.

Ironically, Dion’s election as Liberal leader may see more longshots enter this race. Ambitious Liberals with at least an ounce of name recognition may see a divided field and plan a run up the middle. LeBlanc’s entry into the race gains credibility because he is first to announce. Others may see that LeBlanc is planning a Dion-like charge up the middle as Dion had done and work to position themselves as a more palatable consensus candidate. Ottawa politicos are guessing that the field of candidates will be necessarily narrow due to a shallow and parched pool of donors. Since leadership contenders can carry previous debts into the next Liberal race, the Liberal base will again be tapped for sparse cash from not only the next crop making the case to be the Liberal Party’s next PM, but from those that are resume building and those paying down old debts during an economic crisis.

UPDATE: Ruby Dhalla’s office contacted me and they would like you to know that Ruby Dhalla did not state that she was running for leader on Punjabi radio. So, for now it’s a matter of she said vs. they said. (UPDATE: I’m now concluding that these Brampton–Springdale sources are likely inaccurate. My sincere apologies to Ruby Dhalla on this point.) Also, Dhalla’s office wants everyone to know that the image above is doctored and that Dr. Dhalla did not pose for the photo. They asked that I remove it. However, I will not comply as the image is obviously satire.

Comments

comments

  • http://richardmcadam.blogspot.com RGM

    Dhalla would have no chance in Hell. Anybody who remembers the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan back in 2006 will immediately recall her shameful display of partisanship in which she claimed that because there was no mention of Afghanistan in the Conservative five-point post-electoral agenda, the Conservatives had no credibility on the issue. When presented the opportunity to discuss matters of high politics, Dhalla chose the low road and made herself appear to be little more than a partisan hack spewing electoral party talking points.

  • John B

    Domenic LeBlanc? This what to expect then with respect to Durban II and its stench of anti-semitism:

    “Liberal and NDP parties officially backed the Conservatives' decision at the time, but some MPs broke rank: Dominic LeBlanc, the New Brunswick MP and possible Liberal leadership contender, has said the Tories are exhibiting “a pattern of disrespect … for the multilateral process.”
    http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=

    As for Ruby Dhalla, Maxim does rate her third in their ranking of “World's Hottest Politicians”. An endorsement of sorts I suppose.
    http://www.maxim.com/Girls/3RubyDhallaCanada/sl

  • Fred

    What the Hill Times is reporting as the $start position for the main field. Nice to have Iggy & Rae debt free

    Maurizio Bevilacqua – $269,378
    Scott Brison – $150,095
    St├ęphane Dion – $627,860
    Ken Dryden – $395,890
    Hedy Fry – $104,000
    Martha Hall Findlay – $184,460
    Michael Ignatieff – $143,500
    Gerard Kennedy – $322,361
    Joseph Volpe – $160,290

    TOTAL: $2,357,834

  • Ted

    … 'cause the Conservatives were showing SUUUCH class, accusing the entire Liberal Party of supporting the Taliban and specifically attacking them as terrorist supporters because, what was the chain of thinking again?, oh yeah, because the father-in-law of one of the backbench newer MPs knew some terrorists. And Harper didn't even leave this dirty work to his attack dogs so that he could appear above the fray and statesmanlike which is what a Premier or Prime Minister or President usually does. No, he relishes the mudslinging and delivered the attacks himself.

    I can see what Conservatives mean when they say they will take no lessons on accountability from Liberals, I guess, but similarly no one should be taking lessons from the Conservatives on decorum, civility, or ethics.

  • Beer and Popcorn

    I saw Dhalla on Question period about a year ago and, although nice to look at, struck me as out of her league even in a basic question and answer session. Very surface level answers and stuck very close to the party line.
    Plus, didn't she barely hold on against Conservative Parm Gill up in Brampton in the last election? Not exactly a ringing endorsement from her home riding. I think Iggy will make her look foolish in the debates.

    Now that McKenna has said no, I would think that Manley would have to be where the smart money was running. But then again – I do not profess to understand how Liberal$ make decisions around policy and leadership.

    One question I have – she ran last time but how about Martha Hall Finlay? Even though she barely made it through the first round (Joe Volpe territory) she seemed like an eloquent, levelheaded speaker and person. In the absence of Manley, she would seem to me to be a better pick than the high-milage options of Iggy and Rae?!.

  • Liz J

    Are we witnessing a comedy act here, LeBlanc , Dhalla, Dosanjh, Rae, Ignatieff, ……. ?

    It's starting to look like another fiasco with the Chretien and Martin divide being replaced with the Rae and Ignatieff divide. It's a long road to prime time, hope they're up for the ride.

  • Observant

    Old dog Liberals must not be feeling good about their beloved party being dragged from BobRae Left to Ignatieff Right .. with little to chose from in the Centre. It makes them feel like ABR&I …!!!!

    The only significant Liberal who could challenge Harper … McKenna … has decided it will take too much time and effort to rebuild the Liberal party from the ground up … like 10 years … and the next Liberal leader will be faced with a daunting task in which he/she may fail at as well.

    As Liberals rebuild, they will have to virtually exist as the rump to the Conservative government, because another snap election will most certainly wipe them out .. and so will abstaining for years to come. Perhaps the Conservative party will eliminate the Liberal party by simply absorbing them and chucking out the leftist remnants to the NDP.

  • Larry E

    It is time for a generational change. And to John B, is that the best shot you're able to muster at Dominic?

  • http://maxwell-devin.blogspot.com Devin Maxwell

    Let the superficial attacks and name calling begin…

  • MaryT

    Isn’t Ruby the lady who had her purse stolen and told the police that is was ok to beat the young lads that did it as they deserved it.

  • MaryT

    Isn’t Ruby the lady who had her purse stolen and told the police that is was ok to beat the young lads that did it as they deserved it.

  • Charles Hunt

    Makes me want to vomit with rage at the thought that someone would think Justin Trudeau would make a leader … and that is not because his father was the worst PM ever. It is because he hasen't even sat as a MP yet, like he just got elected. The fact that someone out there thought it was a good idea, just goes to show how desperate they are, and how low they have fallen.

  • Huggybear

    You think that someone with virtually no legislative experience could not be vaulted to the levers of power? My friend, I invite you to look south to see what is going on. We are entering a curious phase in our democracies. Experience, maturity, gravitas, principles all mean nothing in this day and age. Hope! Change! Pithy, one word statements now pass as deep political thought.

  • batb

    Huggybear: “Experience, maturity, gravitas, principles all mean nothing in this day and age. Hope! Change! Pithy, one word statements now pass as deep political thought.”

    The lack of experience, maturity, and gravitas is the logical consequence of the educational (sic) system of the past 20 years–observed first-hand by me as, first, a mother of students in the morass (fortunately, we had a “family table” at our house, where my husband, children, and I discussed the issues of the day, often debunking the new dispensations of the lib-left) and, second, as a teacher in the trenches.

    It is truly disheartening to see the lack of leadership, seriousness, and morality in too many young people. I spent some time in a grade eight class today and was sickened by the lack of respect shown either adults or each other–and I was in a school in a good part of town.

    This disturbing situation is also the consequence of an epidemic of parental neglect, whether benign or not, which means that our young people are not having serious discussions at home and, more than likely, are watching inordinant amounts of television where all they watch is shallow, bling-laden, C-R-A-P.

    No wonder Hope! Change! Obama! and Justin! are the new catch words and political “heroes” of the day.

  • arctic_front

    Ya, she is kinda hot.. but being 'hot' doesn't make you fit to lead a country. Same goes for NB Le Blanc who want to follow the U.N. talking point and support terrorism…. OPPS!… what am I saying? Of course it does… because it seems Canadians will follow any kind of idiot that is a lap-dog for the U.N.

    PLEASE elect Justin Trudeau, pretty please! I'd love to see that 'brand' discredited once and for all…. and besides, it could be fun to watch him implode… A guy can dream, can't he?

  • batb

    Huggybear: “Experience, maturity, gravitas, principles all mean nothing in this day and age. Hope! Change! Pithy, one word statements now pass as deep political thought.”

    The lack of experience, maturity, and gravitas is the logical consequence of the educational (sic) system of the past 20 years–observed first-hand by me as, first, a mother of students in the morass (fortunately, we had a “family table” at our house, where my husband, children, and I discussed the issues of the day, often debunking the new dispensations of the lib-left) and, second, as a teacher in the trenches.

    It is truly disheartening to see the lack of leadership, seriousness, and morality in too many young people. I spent some time in a grade eight class today and was sickened by the lack of respect shown either adults or each other–and I was in a school in a good part of town.

    This disturbing situation is also the consequence of an epidemic of parental neglect, whether benign or not, which means that our young people are not having serious discussions at home and, more than likely, are watching inordinant amounts of television where all they watch is shallow, bling-laden, C-R-A-P.

    No wonder Hope! Change! Obama! and Justin! are the new catch words and political “heroes” of the day.

  • arctic_front

    Ya, she is kinda hot.. but being 'hot' doesn't make you fit to lead a country. Same goes for NB Le Blanc who want to follow the U.N. talking point and support terrorism…. OPPS!… what am I saying? Of course it does… because it seems Canadians will follow any kind of idiot that is a lap-dog for the U.N.

    PLEASE elect Justin Trudeau, pretty please! I'd love to see that 'brand' discredited once and for all…. and besides, it could be fun to watch him implode… A guy can dream, can't he?