Deborah Coyne

Canada’s Greatest Losers

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, History | 7 Comments

Liberals elected this loser at their 1919 leadership convention

Last week, Martha Hall Findlay and Karen McCrimmon declared their candidacies for the Liberal leadership race. This week, George Takach has taken the plunge. I’ve posted one blog interview with David Merner, and will have others with David Bertschi and Alex Burton next week. Deborah Coyne, meanwhile, has already released more fresh ideas than we’ve seen from Stephen Harper during his entire tenure as Prime Minister.

These are seven very different candidates with seven very different messages, but the one thing they share in common is that none of them hold a seat in the House of Commons. This has prompted Warren Kinsella (and others) to gently suggest they do us all a favour and drop out, before they jump in. As the saying goes, if you can’t win your own riding, you can’t win the country.

Now, Warren is free to support whomever he chooses using whatever criteria he chooses. And as far as criteria go, electoral track record is a pretty important one to consider. I know I’d have a difficult time supporting anyone who has never held elected office. That said, it’s likely worth looking at a few “losers” from history, before we automatically disqualify every “loser” from consideration.

John Diefenbaker: This guy could put together losing campaigns more consistently than the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before being elected, he lost twice federally, twice provincially, and once for Mayor. Despite being a five-time loser, the Tories went with Dief in ’56, and he rewarded them with the largest majority in Canadian history.

Mackenzie King: Even though he lost his seat in both the 1911 and 1917 elections, the Liberals put their faith in King at Canada’s first leadership convention in 1919. King would go on to become the longest serving PM in Commonwealth history…losing his own seat twice more along the way.

Jack Layton: Jack beat out three candidates with seats at the 2003 NDP leadership convention, even though he’d never been elected to any position higher than Councillor. He’d lost in his bid for Mayor, finished fourth in the 1993 federal election, and lost by over 7,000 votes in the 1997 federal election. Despite this track record of defeat, the Dippers went with Jack and he rewarded them by becoming the NDP’s most successful leader ever.

Brian Mulroney: Brian hadn’t even won a City Council election when he became PC leader, and had lost in his previous leadership bid. In his first ever election, he won over 200 seats.

Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, John Turner: Although they had perfect records in their own ridings, all three lost a leadership race before becoming Liberal leader. Losers.

Stephen Harper: Harper did not hold a seat when he ran for Canadian Alliance leadership in 2002. At that time, he had a rather uninspiring “1 win and 1 loss” record when it came to local elections – and remember, that’s a .500 record from a Calgary conservative.

Those are just a few of the many losers who won their party leaderships. Indeed, the only examples from the past 30 years of national parties electing “winners” who had never lost their riding or a leadership race are Stephane Dion, Audrey McLaughlin, Stockwell Day, and Peter MacKay. MacKay killed his party, and the other three almost did.

That’s not to say that all “winners” become “losers”, but you need to go all the way back to Justin Trudeau’s father in 1968 to find a successful leader who had a perfect electoral record when he first took over his party’s leadership. And while I don’t want to dismiss Pierre Trudeau’s accomplishments, I suspect most barnyard animals could have held Mount Royal for the Liberals in 1965.

The above examples come from federal politics, but we see it everywhere. Just eight years before becoming President, Barack Obama lost a primary race for a congressional seat by a 2:1 margin. Alison Redford couldn’t even beat Rob Anders in a nomination meeting.

So while I wouldn’t dismiss a candidate’s electoral record (or lack thereof), it’s important to remember that a lot of winners have quickly turned into losers, and a lot of losers have gone on to have very successful careers.

The Race Is On

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 11 Comments

Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall Findlay appear ready to roll

The Liberal Party has released the rules for its leadership race, effectively sounding the starting pistol.

The finish line will be April 14th in Ottawa, when the leader is announced. There’s still no word on exactly how that vote will be conducted, though I assume there will be a mail/online/phone option for those who don’t travel to the convention.

The first draft of the rules made reference to a “leadership showcase and debate” to be held on April 6th in Toronto. Although that line has been deleted, I hope it happens, since it would restore some of the relevance to candidate convention speeches. There’s a part of me that loves the idea of Joe Supporter tuning in to watch the speeches Saturday afternoon, and being so moved by what he hears that he switches his vote. Yeah, yeah, I know that’s not how leadership races work in practice, but at least we won’t be in the NDP’s situation where Mulcair could have dropped his pants and sung La Marseillaise during his speech, and still had enough advanced votes cast to win.

The entry fee will be $75,000 – a higher bar than I would have set, but I recognize the desire to wean the field down to the serious candidates. This isn’t baseball fantasy camp, where anyone can live out their dreams of debating Justin Trudeau; candidates who have nothing to offer are only sucking up oxygen.

As I’ve written before, I do think long-shots like Deborah Coyne and David Merner have something to offer, so I do hope they’ll be able to raise the needed funds. But this spells the end of the road for the Shane Geschieres and Jonathan Mousleys of the world.

The other rules are mostly bureaucratic and won’t change the dynamic of the race. The membership/supporter cut-off will be 41 days before the vote. There will be a 10% tithe on all money raised (Liberals can’t resist a chance to tax). The amount of debt candidates can accumulate has been mercifully limited.

There are still details to be announced – most notably, the debate schedule and voting mechanism – and the contest won’t officially start until November. But for all intents and purposes, the race is on.

Liberal Leadership Wednesdays: Coyne4Leader

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 26 Comments

Future CPC attack ad: “Deborah Coyne climbed Mount Kilimanjaro – were the Rockies not good enough for her?”

It’s worth noting that at this stage in the Liberal Leadership Race, the line between a “declared” and “undeclared” candidate is a thin one. Until the rules and entry fees are set, there’s no way of knowing how many of the lesser known contenders will actually follow through and run. I remember there were 16 candidates on stage for a Liberal Leadership Debate at the LPCA convention in 2006 – this included Roby Dhalla, Joe Fontana, Paul Zed, John McCallum, and the man, the myth, the legend himself, Clifford Blais.

So although Deborah Coyne has “declared” and David Merner is “exploring a bid”, it remains to be seen if their candidacies will make it past the BBQ circuit stage. However, unlike the Lloyd Hendersons of the world who do little more than suck up oxygen from the serious candidates, these two have the potential to mount viable campaigns and could serve a valuable role in this race.

Most of the media attention around Deborah Coyne will centre on her Trudeau connection, but Coyne’s real contribution to this contest will be on the policy front. Her website already features 23 policy discussions, and Coyne pulls no punches, talking about eliminating tax credits, ending supply management, implementing a carbon tax, and increasing the role of private delivery in the Health Care system. I think the race and the other leadership hopefuls would benefit from having a “call it like it is” candidate pushing the debate towards contentious policy issues, so I do hope Coyne follows through and runs.

David Merner makes a convincing case on why he should be this race’s “Tim Hortons candidate”

Also exploring a bid is David Merner, who resigned yesterday as President of the Liberal Party’s BC wing. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to Merner, but the race desperately needs a strong western candidate, so that the “west of Etobicoke” perspective isn’t ignored. Impolitical speaks highly of Merner on her blog ; I’ll reserve judgment until I meet the man, but Merner does meet three of the requirements on the official “Liberal leadership BINGO card” – he was born in Alberta, used to play hockey, and is fluently bilingual. If we find out he’s Pierre Trudeau’s long lost nephew, the media will be head-over-heels in love with this man.

I won’t pretend that these are star candidates, capable of captivating the imagination of Canadians. However, Coyne’s unwavering push for policy and principle and Merner’s western perspective will be valuable additions to the contest.

Plugin from the creators of Brindes Personalizados :: More at Plulz Wordpress Plugins