Well, that was certainly a fun ride. For this week, I’ll be posting thoughts on the election, the transition, and the new Cabinet. I intend to focus a lot on Liberal Leadership over the coming months, but I want to mull the choices over for a bit. For now, let me say that when it comes to selecting a new leader, it’s crucial that we learn lessons from the past few years.
The sponsorship scandal crippled us, the people around Martin were terrible, the civil war has been horrific, while indecision and a lack of vision have hurt us. We saw a policy wonk from Alberta with zero charisma, beat “the next one”, a man who was hyped to win 200 seats one day. There are a lot of lessons in there and I hope that Liberals take a few minutes to pick a candidate who they feel will be best for the party, rather than blindly following who the kool aid drinkers tell them to.
That said, here are a few day after thoughts:
1. Paul Martin: He could have been a great leader. We saw Martin at his best last night and caught glimpses of the real Paul over the past two years. But they were only glimpses. The man tried to be all things to all people and became nothing, as a result. He tried to crush his opponents, but it was his opponents in the Liberal party. He surrounded himself with terrible political minds out of a sense of loyalty, which is commendable, but it proved costly. He never got control of his own agenda and was constantly playing defense.
In the end, Paul Martin will be remembered as Canada’s best Finance Minister ever. And that, in itself, is quite a legacy he should be proud of.
2. Stephen Harper: It’s got to be a little disappointing for Harper. He did everything right, and the Liberals did everything wrong. And still only got “the thin blue line”. Still…if Harper can go a year without flogging gays in the streets, he’ll look a lot less scary. The fiscal imbalance issue could make it or break it for him in Quebec.
3. Jack Layton: Is going to have a tough time getting “results for people”.
4. Andre Arthur: Is going to become a star.
5. Peter Miliken: Will be the speaker of the House again. No doubt about it.
6. Reg Alcock: Biggest surprise of the night to me (among those who lost).
7. Anne McLellan: It’s a shame to see Alberta all blue. And the Liberals got a mere 15% of the vote – eek! The party has a lot of work to do here.
8. The Liberal Party: Not a bad outcome, all things considered. I’ll post some more on rebuilding the big red machine tonight.
9. The Contest: I’ll hopefully have the results of the “off beat election pool” up tonight. On the topic of “most vicious attack ad” run, I’m declaring joint winners here. “Soldiers in the streets” was the most vicious, but wasn’t ever run. The Bloc attack ad against Alberta was the worst, but it was only a newspaper ad. Harper ran some nasty personal ads against Martin on the topic of CSL and Paul’s private doctor. But, in the end, the last gasp abortion ads against Harper were probably the worst. So, anyone who said Liberals or Bloc get full marks in that category.