The Conservatives will get a new national leader this coming weekend. Assuming the party’s computer system can handle the complicated preferential ballots with 14 names (Kevin O’Leary being on the ballot still), the Canadian electorate should know on Saturday who will be on offer if they choose to rid themselves of Justin Trudeau and don’t warm to whomever the NDP chooses.
The party that Stephen Harper built will choose a new leader in just 12 days’ time, and it has a big problem.
Normally, leadership campaigns serve to do two things – to excite the party faithful and to attract at least the interest of the electorate at large. There is no sign, however, that this Conservative campaign has done either.
There are at least three varieties of political scandals – real scandals, maybe (or maybe not) scandals and faux scandals.
In the category of real scandals, I would put the Sponsorship scandal in which an estimated $100 million in taxpayer money disappeared to into the bank accounts of friends and supporters of Jean Chrétien’s Liberals. Another real scandal was the Airbus affair in which former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney secretly accepted $300,000 in cash from Karlheinz Schreiber, the Airbus lobbyist.
When “Mr. Wonderful” left the stage so abruptly last week, he sucked all the air out of the Conservative leadership drama.
Kevin O’Leary’s candidacy had thrilled and distressed Conservatives in roughly equal proportions. Every conversation about the party leadership turned inevitably to the star of Dragons’ Den and Shark Tank.
In times past when the government had a really big deal to announce, or an item of long-anticipated legislation, it would pull out all the stops. Parliament would be primed. The prime minister would beam proudly while the sponsoring minister(s) explained in lavish terms how the new measure would dramatically improve the lives of ordinary Canadians, enhance democracy and make the nation stronger, safer and more prosperous. Then cabinet members would fan out across the land to deliver the glad tidings.
Hype like that.