If anyone had asked earlier this month who would be the last two candidates standing on the final ballot at the Conservative leadership convention in June, I would have said Rona Ambrose and Jean Charest. I might even have wagered a toonie on that eventuality.
John Carnell Crosbie, who died at 88 in St. John’s at the end of last week, was not a politician like the others – not like any other I have ever come across.
He was very smart, witty, opinionated, at times outrageous, sarcastic, chauvinistic, and contemptuous of those among his fellow politicians who got ahead by going with the flow. Crosbie was not a “going with the flow” sort. He was his own person, an independent thinker and unpredictable performer, fearless (or foolhardy) when it came to spurning political correctness.
There is nothing like a leadership race to stir the blood of political practitioners and start their adrenalin pumping, to ignite the latent ambition of newbies, and to cause oldsters to revive dormant dreams of leadership glory.
It’s like that in the federal Conservative party as 2020 begins.
Premier Doug Ford,
My Very Dear Premier Ford,
I fear I have neglected you terribly. When you scored your historic victory back on June 7, 2018, punting the evil Liberals into outer darkness and restoring democracy and good government to our province, I promised to provide you with regular readings from the applause meters we have installed across Ford Nation.
Here is a project for 2020.
Do something about 24 Sussex Drive, the official residence of the prime minister. Either fix it or tear it down.
The 34-room mansion, built between 1866 and 1868, is a disaster, deemed by inspectors to be in “critical” condition. Although it may not be in peril of falling down tomorrow, it is deemed no longer fit for habitation.
If politics were a rational enterprise, an opposition leader whose party won the popular vote and increased its seats in the Commons by 20 per cent, while reducing the governing party to a minority, would be hailed, if not as a hero, at least as a significant achiever.
But politics, like the stock market, is not a rational endeavour. Achievement is not judged by results alone. It is also measured against expectations.
Justin Trudeau faced a choice as his new minority Liberal government prepared to meet Parliament.
He could seize the opportunity to act boldly on various fronts – from climate change to health care and from effective gun control to aggressive, long-overdue reforms to improve the lives and opportunities of Indigenous Canadians.
Or he could play it safe – reassuring his left-centre base that he had not forgotten the party’s election platform, while hinting at just enough change to keep the opposition parties from the Liberals’ throat.
They say history doesn’t repeat itself, but it makes a pretty good stab at it when it comes to the federal Conservative party and its leadership.
In 1966, 13 years before Andrew Scheer was born, John Diefenbaker was humiliated and dumped from the leadership by a party that had been persuaded he could not lead it back to power – a fate that Scheer is struggling to avoid today.
Cabinet shuffles mean change. That’s what they are all about: new players appear; some old ones play musical chairs, while other faithful retainers are swept into the dustbin of political history.
Let’s hope the new 43rd Parliament will not deteriorate into the ugly partisanship that marred the final months of the previous Parliament and that dominated the October election campaign.
Let’s hope that the election outcome has had a sobering effect. Let’s hope there will be more cooperation and less obstruction. Finally, let’s hope the new minority government, surely knowing its survival depends on it, will be more flexible than its majority predecessor and more disposed to move quickly on current issues and overdue reforms.