Imagine, if you can, gentle reader, that you are a card-carrying member of the Conservative Party of Canada. You are looking anxiously for a permanent replacement for Stephen Harper in the CPC leadership election this coming May. You have studied the swollen field – no fewer than 13 candidates at last count. Regretfully, all seem to lack at least one crucial ingredient.
Geoffrey Stevens's blog
Anyone who has made a career in politics will tell you that two of the most difficult decisions involve timing: when to get in and when to get out.
Of the two, the getting-out decision is often the more difficult.
Canadians saw evidence of that back in the 1960s when John Diefenbaker, a former prime minister, could not bring himself to relinquish the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. He challenged the party to throw him out, and it did.
“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?” ― Robert Browning
Mr. Trudeau, meet Mr. Browning.
One thing the Trudeau government cannot be accused of is lack of reach. Its ambitions have carried it into endeavours that the Harper government did not attempt to reach or had no interest in reaching.
If the federal Conservatives had their wits about them they would do what the Royal Navy did back in the age of sail when it sent forth “press gangs” to forcibly conscript – or “impress” – seafaring men to crew its warships.
They would send a press gang off to Stornoway to confront their interim leader Rona Ambrose and to beg, cajole and implore (though perhaps not physically force) her to stand as a candidate next May when the party replaces the departed Stephen Harper. The press gang should not be allowed to take No for an answer.
Otto von Bismarck, Germany’s “Iron Chancellor” in the 19th century knew whereof he was speaking when he observed, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”
It’s a sentiment Justin Trudeau would agree with. Or would he, as he emerges from the most ragged week of his young prime ministry?