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Can the Liberals Win the Next Election?

12-Apr-06 02:06 am EDT Leave a comment Go to comments
Ok it’s a ways off.  But if one looks at the Liberal leadership race (for those of us who have any stomach for politics lately), it looks as if we could be enjoying the leadership of Stephen Harper for a while.  And the Liberals in a rather sudden reversal of fortunes could suffer from exactly the same problem that kept the Conservatives at bay for 13 years; leaving the Liberals virtually unchallenged occupancy of the PMO – a crisis of personae: does anyone know who the ‘new’  liberals are?
That question is no more pressing with any of the declared pack thus far than one Michael Ignatieff, who was interviewed, doubtlessley, to help alleviate this potentially terminal political condition just this past week by Maclean’s magazine.  Ignatieff is formerly a total unknown who stirred up a little controversy during the political election in his Toronto riding into which he was parachuted as a "star candidate".  Better konwn is Stephane Dion who was fomerly the Liberals’ Quebec lieutenant.  Even so, he didn’t play any of the lead roles in Paul Martin’s administration.  And as was the case for most Liberals in Quebec during the last election, his race was a squeaker.
In a recent speech, Dion admitted he hadn’t thought about taking a run at the PMO until recently, but one has to wonder if he has either the experience or connections to pull it off – to pull off either a victory to win the Liberal leadership or, more importantly, a win against Stephen Harper.
There don’t appear to be any other takers in the bid for this leadership race, though.  And given Igantieff’s brief history, it may indeed be Dion who pulls it off. 
As a Manitoban ex-patriot, I was kind of hoping Lloyd Axworthy might give it a go.  Back in my college days (yes, back in the days just before John Turner was elected Liberal leader following the final departure of Pierre Trudeau) I was interviewed and even seemed queued up to become one of Axworthy’s speech writers – which would have set my life on a course very, very different from the one I ended up taking.  Yet quite honestly, for reasons aside from the impact wit would have had on the career choices I’ve made or any personal interest beyond that of any Candian patriot, I wished Axworthy had taken a run for it.  Just as I wished he had now.  I even wrote to him about it, but for some unstated reasons it doesn’t look as if he’s going to do that.  Doubtlessly, he’s doing a great job as the University of Winnipeg’s chancellor.  And it’s a damned shame too since he’d make one hell of a Prime Minister.
Incidentally; Manitoba has never given Canada a Prime Minister.
At any rate, hopefully Canada can’t afford to go another decade without a strong opposition, so hopefully the Liberals can get it together before the Conservatives start feeling too comfortable in power.  For all the talk about a "culture of accountability", I’m very, very skeptical every loophole will be closed systemically.  I doubt such a thing is even possible, even though the improvements to process they appear poised to make will likely make things a little better for all of us.
At least that’s the hope.  Time will tell.  And if not, we’ll need a party to replace the Conservatives.  Should that become necessary, I do hope whoever gets to take the job as Liberal leader will be up to the task.  Until recently, the Conservatives sure weren’t and, as we saw, that caused a few problems….
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Terry Glavin


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