LPC Leadership 2006


Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, 2013 OLP Leadership Race, LPC Leadership 2006, NDP Leadership 2012 | 20 Comments

The Liberal leadership race is the first real test of the supporter system, and with the cut-off to sign up and vote now passed, we have our first indication of how successful the experiment has been:


That’s over twice as many members as the NDP recruited last spring, and over 100,000 more than the highly competitive 2006 Liberal Leadership Race. It’s hard to say if this boom is due to the supporter system or Trudeaumania II, but as the following table shows, by any metric you use it’s one of the most successful leadership drives in recent memory:

Race Format Candidates Eligible Per Vote Per Pop
2013 LPC WOMOV Supporters 8 294,002 10.6% 0.9%
2013 OLP Delegated Convention 7 45,000 2.8% 0.4%
2012 NDP OMOV 7 128,351 2.9% 0.4%
2011 BQ OMOV 3 36,341 4.1% 0.5%
2011 BC Libs WOMOV 4 92,000 12.2% 2.1%
2011 AB Libs WOMOV Supporters 5 27,567 21.6% 0.8%
2009 ON PC WOMOV 4 42,000 2.9% 0.3%
2009 ON NDP OMOV 4 23,908 2.8% 0.2%
2006 LPC Delegates Convention 8 185,000 2.6% 0.6%
2004 Conservative WOMOV 3 251,000 5.7% 0.8%
2004 ON PC WOMOV 3 61,104 4.0% 0.5%

It remains to be seen how many of these supporters will actually vote, but when it comes to collecting contact information and bringing new blood into the fold, the numbers are encouraging. The Liberals signed up 0.9% of all Canadians and 10.6% of their previous election voters – both totals greatly exceeding any federal leadership race of the past decade.

Of course, huge sign-ups for the 2011 Liberal leadership races in BC and Alberta haven’t translated to electoral success, so it’s a little premature to start measuring the drapes at 24 Sussex.

But this contest appears to have given the Liberals a jolt of life, which is not always the case during a de facto coronation. Paul Martin capped his decade-long regicide in 2003 with restrictive membership rules and a process that left the party divided. The Party establishment was so enthralled with Michael Ignatieff in 2009, that they didn’t even bother giving members a say.

You can argue all you want about Trudeau’s qualifications and readiness for the job, but at the very least this is a coronation that has brought hundreds of thousands of new Liberals into the fold. Open and competitive races are no doubt more difficult on the frontrunner than hotwired acclamations, but both the party and Trudeau will be stronger in the long run because of this process.

Political Moment of the Decade: #9 Dion Stuns the Favourites

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in LPC Leadership 2006, Political moment of the decade | Leave a comment

If you missed it, I asked readers to nominate, then vote, on Canada’s top political moment of the decade. Over the next two weeks, I’ll be counting down the top 10 vote getters.

It’s overall impact on the decade is debatable. In retrospect, it seems likely that Stephen Harper would have destroyed whomever crawled out of the octagon alive in Montreal. But for everyone involved, that leadership race was one of the most thrilling events of the decade.

You see, up until that point, the Liberal Party had held 7 leadership votes in its history. And, while Sheila did manage to scrounge up a few dozen votes in 2003 (yours truly included), in reality, it had been 16 years since a real leadership race.

And when the heavyweights started dropping…well…that changed everything. Suddenly you had candidates no one had ever heard of. These weren’t political machines that had been organized for years. It was every politico’s fantasy come true – pluck a candidate from obscurity and turn them into the next Prime Minister.

For me, I was intrigued early on by Gerard Kennedy. I liked that he had western roots. I liked his involvement with food banks. I liked what I’d heard about him. Not knowing much else, I found an e-mail address on the Internet and sent off an incredibly lame note along the lines of “so…you gonna run?”. Eventually myself and some friends from Alberta got in touch with his people and helped build up a pretty impressive team. Talking people onside, being with a candidate from the start…it’s exciting stuff, and I think a lot of Liberals had the same experience.

So, because of that, it was hard for Liberals not to get a little offended when someone suggested that maybe your guy didn’t have the greatest French or English, or maybe a candidate should have more than 6 weeks of political experience, or have been a Liberal Party member before declaring his intent to run. We all looked past this, because it was such an intriguing field. An NDP Premier, one of the smartest men alive, the Clarity Act guy, the founder of Canada’s first food bank, a Hall of Fame goalie…this wasn’t just the 3 highest profile Cabinet Ministers of the last decade slugging it out – this race had something for everyone. Hell, this being the 21st Century and all, there was even a woman!

And it was all kinds of fun. Every week there was a new deadline, a new Joe Volpe scandal, a new Michael Ignatieff gaffe, and a new rumour that Frank McKenna was on the verge of entering the race. You never really knew who was going to win. The media was in love with Iggy…then it was Bob Rae’s race to lose…then the At Issue Pannel had a love-in with Stephane Dion…then Kennedy looked good in membership numbers…then a poll showed Dryden to be the most electable.

By the time you got to Montreal, it was anybody’s guess. Ignatieff was the front runner, but expectations had been spun so high that I’m not sure it was even mathematically possible for him to get the votes on the first ballot he was expected to. Every candidate who had dropped out had endorsed Bob Rae, but then it was common knowledge that the Tories wanted Rae to win…unless that was a clever reverse psychology trick of theirs. Gerard Kennedy had Justin Trudeau and was against the Quebec Nation resolution but the guy only had a dozen Quebec delegates. Stephane Dion had run out of time during his Friday speech but, really, I’m sure the ability to deliver a speech on time would never prove important for the next Liberal leader, right?

So everyone had a theory. I was feeling fairly good at the start of the week when talk of a Dion-Kennedy suicide pact kept making the rounds. I was feeling really good when I was told in confidence that Ken Dryden was going to announce his support for Gerard during his speech Friday. I was feeling less good when the National reporting Dryden was set to endorse Ignatieff. I was on the floor and had no clue what the hell was going on when he eventually endorsed Rae. It was wild.

Back at home, the country tuned in. They saw the tightly scripted spontaneous demonstrations, the signs, the tambourines, the scarves.

It was exciting. An underdog won and everyone loves the underdog.

Until they realize the underdog talks funny and is a bit of dweeb.

Conservatives themselves doubt Harper’s judgement. How can we trust him?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in LPC Leadership 2006 | Leave a comment

More info on the top-secret Conservative ads:

MONTREAL — There’s a surprising new star making a cameo appearance in Conservative ads attacking Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff: his name is Justin Trudeau.

French-language TV ads that have begun airing in Quebec show the rookie MP blasting a few volleys of friendly fire at his leader.

The ads include clips from an interview Trudeau did during the 2006 Liberal leadership race.

“Ignatieff, he’s a little all over the place sometimes,” Trudeau says in the spot, in a clip drawn from a 2006 TV interview.

“He says this, he says that – he contradicts himself.”

Trudeau then delivers this little parting shot: “For me, he’s not someone with… maybe he has the intelligence, but maybe not the wisdom required.”

The ad’s narrator ends the spot by asking viewers: “Liberals themselves doubt (Ignatieff’s) judgment. How can we trust him?”

So, some guy who wasn’t an MP and supported another guy in a leadership race Ignatieff lost three years ago – had some tame criticism of the front-runner. Well, colour me shocked. If you’re that desperate Tory war room, I hear Bob Rae used to berate Iggy when they were college roommates for not taking out the trash.

So, if those quotes are fair game, let’s see what the Minister of Industry has to say about Harper:

OTTAWA (CP) – Tony Clement painted Stephen Harper as a divisive, unelectable Conservative leader Wednesday in a televised debate notable for the absence of high-profile candidate Belinda Stronach.

Clement, the former Ontario health minister and acknowledged underdog in the three-way race, was clearly on the offensive against Harper. He suggested the former Canadian Alliance leader will be unable to unify Conservatives and draw Canadians outside the party to its fold.

Stephen . . . you’ve been on the record as a wall-builder. I want to be on the record as a bridge-builder.”

Clement then accused the Calgary-based MP of proposing to build a firewall around Alberta, of writing off electoral prospects in Quebec and of badmouthing Atlantic Canadians.

Man of the Year

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, LPC Leadership 2006, Person of the Year | Leave a comment

Time doesn’t have a copyright on it so, for the third straight year, I’m ready to crown my Person of the Year. Last year, Belinda took the honour for her waltz across the floor which grabbed headlines and changed history. In 2004, I went with Ralph Klein for his re-election and interference in the federal vote. And while Stephen Harper is the obvious choice this year, I think picking the PM is a big cop out (although not as lame as picking “You”, I guess) so this year’s Calgary Grit Person of the Year is…

Michael Ignatieff

A year ago, Michael Ignatieff was fighting for a seat in Etobicoke Lakeshore, admit virulent criticism that he was anti-Ukrainian and supported torture. It was as messy a run for office as you’ll ever see in a safe Toronto seat (which, for the Liberals, are most Toronto seats). A year later, he came within a few gaffes of winning leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada and, despite his loss, he drove much of the political agenda in 2006 and is now Deputy Leader of the LPC. Not bad for a rookie.

As the frontrunner, Ignatieff grabbed most of the headlines in the year long Liberal leadership race and, as Dion said in his acceptance speech, took the lumps because of it. Everytime he sneezed, his critics said it was proof his immune system couldn’t handle the top job and his supporters said it was a sign he wasn’t a typical politician and that the sniffles were why they loved him. His stand on Afghanistan may have been the reason Harper called a snap vote on extending the mission and he led the debate throughout the entire leadership race (often arguing both sides, as one scribe wryly commented).

But despite what many Liberals say, the Liberal Party is not Canada and to be man of the year, there needs to be some meaningful and lasting contribution to the country. Ignatieff did just that during the Quebec nation fiasco this fall. While Ignatieff’s ownership of the nation motion was proportional to the motion’s popularity for much of the year, it’s hard to deny that he got the ball rolling on it. No policy this year was more controversial and none has the potential to have a larger long term impact on the very nature of our country. Those who support the motion feel it will squash separatism while those who opposed it (such as myself), feel it’s a very dangerous step towards the edge of the cliff. Time will tell, but for better or worse, Ignatieff’s role in this debate made him influential in 2006.

Michael Ignatieff is not a politician but that’s what made him a gift to blogging in 2006. Big ideas, big gaffes, and a polarizing figure – the holy trinity of blog material. One presumes Iggy will continue to provide good fodder in 2007.

Stampede Round-Up

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Featured Posts, Humour, LPC Leadership 2006, Politicians in Cowboy Hats | Leave a comment

It was a busy weekend for Calgary Liberals with a swarm of candidates descending upon the city for Stampede photo ops. Saturday morning was the annual Liberal breakfast, held this year at the Calgary Zoo. I was able to snap pictures of the seven candidates in attendance:

Gerard Kennedy likely won the cowboy competition of the Liberal leadership fashion pageant. He was the gutsiest when it came to “going western” and pulled it off the best (on both Saturday and Sunday). He seemed very relaxed when he spoke at the Liberal breakfast, keeping things light. (I have more GK pics posted on his OC)

Dion deserves full marks for effort. No one is going to ever confuse him for Clint Eastwood but, this being his fourth Stampede, he knows that you have to at least try (translation: the cowboy hat is a must). Stephane was proudly telling anyone who would listen that “I look better than Stephen Harper in my cowboy costume“. I did notice that one of the buttons on his shirt was undone when we had a sit down interview on Sunday, so my hope is he wasn’t walking around all morning like that. Of interest, on the pamphlet table his campaign included free cabbage seeds which was…odd.

Ignatieff stayed away from the cowboy hat, going with blue shirts both on Saturday and Sunday. I’m not sure how well he could have pulled off a complete Stampede wardrobe so maybe that was a wise move. I was a little disappointed that he didn’t mention the carbon tax at all in his Saturday morning speech…

Carolyn Bennett looked a lot better on Sunday than Saturday. The Sheriff badge on Saturday made her look more like an 8 year old at Halloween than a serious politician. But she bounced back well on Sunday and was probably the best dressed of the Liberals at the Hays breakfast.

Dryden got the biggest laugh of the morning when he talked about how he’s always worried about fitting into his jeans. Strange thing is, his outfit actually looked slimming. Like Iggy and Brison, he went with the jeans and open button shirt, avoiding the hat.

Scott Brison got a good response to his speech on Saturday and scored some points by talking about going to Cowboys when in Calgary. That might explain why he didn’t feel quite up to dressing up for Sunday. His jeans and golf shirt was probably the least “Stampedy” outfit of any of the politicians at the Hays breakfast.

Hedy Fry showed up late on Saturday and, along with Dryden, was a no-show on Sunday. Her speech was pretty much “I’m a Western Liberal. You’re Western Liberals. You should vote for me.” I found it quite odd that a Vancouver MP would say “I welcome the other candidates to Calgary and the Stampede”.

As always, every single candidate sucked up to the crowd with various variations on “Calgary Liberals are the best Liberals” and “we need to elect more Liberals in Alberta”. You can read Naylor’s Take on the Stampede Breakfast here.

Sunday was the Hays breakfast and Paul Wells has a good fashion review on his site. Among the highlights of his spy’s report:

Someone is dressing the Prime Minister. […] About a zillion times better than last year’s bizarre too-tight S&M gear.

Jim Prentice wore the same damn buckskin jacket he always wears, Stampede or not, but given his portfolio, it makes sense.

As for the Liberal pretenders, Carolyn Bennett looked great and stylish in denim and suede.

Stephane Dion looked like Stephane Dion in western wear, which is not as weird as it sounds.

Michael Ignatieff looked exactly as you would expect an academic who was told to dress western to look. […] No hat, though, which I’m told he claimed was because he has an enormous head and did not want to make it more enormous.

Most shocking outfit was on Scott Brison. Normally, our Scott pulls off the downtown-hipster-late-cowboy thing well, but he didn’t even try today.

The winner by far of the fashion sweepstakes was Gerard Kennedy. You can tell when someone is really a westerner, and this guy is to the ranch born.

Since I’d talked to the Liberal contenders the day before, my two main targets for the morning were Jim Dinning and Steve Harper. Unfortunately, I missed Harper completely. It sounds like he jumped out of his limo, did some media and left fairly quickly (with so many human beings around, Steve was no doubt uncomfortable).

I did manage to track down Jim Dinning. I went up to him and said “Hello Mr. Dinning, could I have my picture taken with the next Premier of Alberta“. Jim laughed and we had our picture taken. However, as soon as the click went, he turned and walked over to a nearby business exec without saying a word to me. Considering I could very well have been a potential supporter, that rubbed me a bit the wrong way; last year, Jim Prentice was willing to chat even after he knew I was a Liberal. On the fashion front, Jim wore a white top with his own name on it.

So, all in all, a fun weekend. I interviewed Stephane Dion after the Hays breakfast and will have a recap of that later this week.

Liberal MLAs Harry Chase and Dave Taylor [left] and the third amigo, Liberal MLA David Swann [right]

Rob Anders?

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