Field of dreamers

The election night resignation by press release of Stephen Harper was cheesy. He offered no thank you, no list of accomplishments, no closure for supporters. It did, however, trigger a leadership race. Comebacks are always possible. The Progressive Conservative Party won only two seats in 1993, changed its name, and was returned to power a decade later. The Liberals, written off in 2011 by no less an observer than the indefatigable Peter C. Newman, rose from the dead: 34 seats to 184 in only four years.

So here’s my list of Conservative leadership candidates:

From Atlantic Canada, only Peter Mackay is likely to run, mostly because he has nothing better to do. Bernard Valcourt is too old at 63 and just lost his seat, hardly a winning combination. Former New Brunswick premier Bernard Lord never was and never will be ready for prime time. From Quebec, neither Pierre Poilievre nor Maxime Bernier has much profile outside their home province.

From Ontario, Tony Clement has too few friends in the party to cause a groundswell. Doug Ford’s proclamation a few weeks back that he would consider running if Harper lost was almost enough to make me vote for Harper just so the job did not become vacant. Almost.

Among female contenders Rona Ambrose, Lisa Raitt and Kellie Leitch, the latter is the most likely. She is the most ambitious politician I have ever seen, male or female. Such neediness won’t serve her well.

In the west are found the top two names: Brad Wall and Jason Kenney. Wall is premier of Saskatchewan which pretty much puts him out of the running. Name the last premier to lead a national party and win an election. Finally, the man most likely to succeed, Jason Kenney. He certainly has the political operatives and was helpful electing Patrick Brown PC leader in Ontario. I once attended a dinner and happened to sit at a table of eight that included Kenney. I can’t recall a single redeeming feature of the man. If the Conservatives elect Kenney, it will be like Harper Redux, a closed party with narrow appeal, votes against the current, doomed to run second again.

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