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The Convention Is On!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

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From a field of 12, we’re down to eight. This weekend in Montreal, Liberals from across the country will gather to choose their next leader; the man or woman that will lead them into the next election and may eventually become the next Prime Minister. The Cannon.ca now presents the rundown and like the Highlander, there can only be one.

Scott Brison

Age: 39

Place of Origin: Windsor, NS

Tag Line: "Youth, energy and experience" for a "new generation of leaders."

Political Past: Started in business by selling bar fridges (jokingly referring to himself as a “fridge magnet”. He entered politics as an MP for the Progressive Conservative Party in 1997; briefly resigned to allow Joe Clark to hold his seat when Clark became PC leader. Ran for leadership of PC party in 2003 but lost to Peter McKay; crossed the floor to the Liberals following PC merger with Canadian Alliance. Brison served in cabinet as the Minister of Public Works under Paul Martin.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: MP for King-Hants

Issues: Wants to see tax reform by cutting personal income taxes and raising basic personal exemption to remove low-income Canadians from the tax rolls; wants to create national securities regulator; strengthening federal commitment to education and healthcare; wants to make Canada a strong international leader in human rights; in favour of keeping the Kelowna Accord; wants to expand Canada’s commitment to pollution reduction and green energy.

Pluses: He’s got youth and vigor on his side, also he’s fiscally moderate and socially progressive, He’s openly gay, which means he’d be the first gay leader of the Liberal Party and thus possibly the first gay Prime Minister.

Minuses: …but, he’s led a low-profile campaign that hasn’t generated much heat; was a Tory back in the day, even wanted to be Tory leader once

Support: Former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna, Liberal caucus members from the Maritimes

Chances: Could be doing worse, but only if he was Joe Volpe or Martha Hall Findlay

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 4

Stephane Dion _
Age: 51

Place of Origin: Quebec City, PQ

Tag Line: "Canada is most successful when we are all working together."

Political Past: Began career as an author and professor of political science. He was elected in a by-election to the House of Commons in 1996 and was easily re-elected the next year. Served as President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs under Chrétien but was dropped from cabinet when Paul Martin became party leader and PM. Returned to cabinet following 2004 election as Minister of Environment.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: MP for Saint-Laurent-Cartierville

Issues: Wants to invest in the education, especially at the post-secondary level in order to create a highly educated workforce that can embrace the “next Industrial Revolution” (read: new technologies). Also wants to establish a national policy to set in place resource productivity, energy efficiency, new energy capacity, and energy conservation. He’s a staunch and unapologetic federalist and was instrumental in legislation like the Clarity Act. For universal and equal access to health care, with a limited involvement from the private sector. Wants to invest in farmers and allow them to movie into areas like ethanol, bio-fuels, low-till practices, wind power and other new technologies. Wants to further invest in improving the lives of all Canadians, the elderly, our children, families, newcomers, and aboriginal Canadians.

Pluses: He has “street cred” in Quebec being a natural francophone and the only francophone in the race. He helped champion the recent motion to recognize Quebec as a nation. His platform hits all the right notes with progressive Canadians and seems relatively untainted by Liberal bickering, infighting and scandals of the past.

Minuses: His strength as a candidate may fade the further he gets from Quebec. Plus while he’s stayed above the fray between Ignatieff and Rae, he’s been a little too quiet as his support seems to be coming from outside more than within.

Support: Strong support in caucus, endorsements from former PC leadership candidate David Orchard, Saskatchewan Liberal Party David Karwacki, Jamie Elmhirst the President of the British Columbia wing of the Party, Adam Campbell the President of the Alberta wing, former Green Party deputy leader Tom Manley, Paul Martin's Chief of Staff Tim Murphy and Marc-Boris Saint-Maurice the co-founder and former leader of the Marijuana Party of Canada. Press endorsements from Globe & Mail, Montreal Gazette and the Toronto Sun (with Martha Hall Findlay).

Chances: Practically neck-and-neck with Kennedy for third, but he’s been getting some buzz off this recent “nation” debate. Plus the Liberals need a strong voice to appeal to Quebecers, so many may took a long, hard, second look at Dion.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 16

_Ken Dryden
Age: 59

Place of Origin: Hamilton, ON

Tag Line: "I want to lead a country that takes on big challenges."

Political Past: Goaltender for the Montreal Canadians, He served as Ontario's first Youth Commissioner from 1984 to 1986, worked as a television hockey commentator at the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Winter Olympics and was president of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1997 till 2004. First elected to the House in 2004 and was appointed to Paul Martin’s cabinet.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: MP for York Centre

Issues: Dryden was an instrumental force for coming up with a national child care strategy under the last government; obviously as Liberal leader and potential PM he’d continue that fight. Is also determined to reinvest the government’s commitment to the Kelowna and Kyoto Accords. Wants to push for greater hand gun control and gun control in general. He also wants to look into finding ways to encourage greater citizen participation in the political process, including getting more women to run for public office.

Pluses: Everyone loves a famous hockey player so he’s got name recognition. He’s very strong on social policy, including education issues, but he’s been rather silent on the dual elephants in the room: the Afghan war and nationalism.

Minuses: He’s still in this?

Support: Art Eggleton, Frank Mahovlich, Julian Reed,

Chances: Dryden’s made a good show with a low-profile campaign; he’s now in good standing to be a potential “king maker”.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 5

Martha Hall Findlay
Age: 46

Place of Origin: Ontario

Tag Line: "It's time to renew our approach to politics and to policy."

Political Past: A silver medalist for skiing in the 1976 Olympics. She worked for six years practicing corporate and commercial law at the Toronto offices of international law firm Baker & McKenzie. She served as general counsel and executive for Bell Mobility and Mobility Canada, and later served as vice-president and general counsel for The Rider Group. She founded The General Counsel Group, a legal and management consulting firm working primarily in the high-tech and telecommunications fields in Canada and Europe. Ran as Liberal candidate in riding of Newmarket-Aurora in 2004 and was within 689 votes of beating Conservative candidate Belinda Stronach.

What’s She Doin’ Now?: She actively campaigned for many Liberal candidates in the last election; was the first to enter leadership race.

Issues: She’s running on a strong social justice platform. She wants to create, a “Canada that is great, prosperous, but caring; one of which we can all be proud. She wants economic prosperity that doesn’t sacrifice those less fortunate. On foreign policy she’s pushing for peacekeeping, strategic aid and thoughtful diplomacy. Also on her agenda is a strong financial commitment to healthcare, education and environmental protection.

Pluses: She’s the sole woman in the race and someone not saddled in any way with the 13 years of Liberal government baggage. Her appeal and corporate background makes her not unlike Belinda Stronach in terms of appeal as a strong and accomplished woman making the transfer to politics. Counts Green Eggs and Ham as her favourite book in Toronto Star survey.

Minuses: On the same survey she said her favourite song was “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac. Aside from musical taste, she has no political experience at all. A factor probably not helping her out for a party that’s wanting to get back the House in the next election.

Support: Sporadic, but existent, plus a half endorsement from the Toronto Sun with Stephane Dion.

Chances: Basically, nowhere to go but up. But that’s not saying much at one per cent of delegate support.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 1

Michael Ignatieff
Age: 59

Place of Origin: Toronto, ON

Tag Line: "You want leadership that challenges, that inspires."

Political Past: Lived in Britain and worked on the faculty at both Cambridge and Oxford Universities from 1978 to 2000 while also working as a filmmaker and political commentator for the BBC. From 2000 to 2005, he was director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy in Cambridge Mass. He returned to Canada in 2005 to take a position at the University of Toronto and enter politics.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: MP for Etobicoke-Lakeshore

Issues: Has been referred to in the past as a “liberal hawk” for his support of the War in Iraq and ongoing support of Canada’s Afghan mission. Typically centrist on social issues, he’s for environment protection, safer cities and improved immigration that allows people to work to there full potential.

Pluses: A fresh face so to speak and an already cemented star candidate as seen in the last federal election. (Was the presumptive frontrunner since before Paul Martin’s letter of resignation was cold.) He also doesn’t bring baggage from either the Chrétien or Martin regimes.

Minuses: Once said that he “didn’t loose sleep” over dead Lebanese during the recent war with Israel, has been wishy-washy on the issue ever since as he accused Israel of war crimes just last month. His current stand on foreign policy is sketchy to say the least. All his years abroad may work against him if delegates decide that he really doesn’t know modern Canada. And… oh yeah, he supported the Iraq War.

Support: MPs Denis Coderre, Sukh Dhaliwal, John McCallum, David McGuinty, Joe McGuire; Sen. Roméo Dallaire, former Ontario Premier David Peterson, Trudeau cabinet minister Marc Lalonde, Dwight Duncan, fiddler Ashley MacIsaac.

Chances: Came out of “Super-Weekend” with the early lead, but he’s susceptible should the delegates get behind either Rae or Dion after the first couple of ballots.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 29

Gerard Kennedy
Age: 46

Place of Origin: The Pas, MN

Tag Line: "We must grip this country with a sense of where it needs to go."

Political Past: Ten years as Executive Director of Toronto’s Daily Bread food bank; ran for Ontario Liberal leadership in 1996, winning the first four ballots before losing to Dalton McGuinty on the fifth; elected to provincial legislature in 1999; became Education Minister in 2003 with McGuinty victory in last provincial election,

What’s He Doin’ Now?: Resigned as Ontario Minister of Education in order to run for Federal Liberal Leader.

Issues: For meeting Kyoto commitments. Believes in the need to create “Pragmatic Compassion”, a dual-minded approach that balances an enterprising culture while making sure all Canadians have an opportunity to succeed. Wants to address fiscal imbalance with the provinces, reinvest in Aboriginal peoples and retcon Canada’s foreign policy to be more in line with the era of Pearson and Axworthy.

Pluses: He has an appeal to western voters and is a well-known and well-liked politician from Ontario. Widely considered to be the furthest to the left of the potential leaders, but his voice on social issues is strong and experienced. He also knows how to work a room as he cultivated a solid working relationship with Ontario educators after years of tension between teachers and the Harris Tories.

Minuses: No federal experience and may be too left for some.

Support: June Callwood, Larry Campbell, Brenda Chamberlain, Joe Fontana, Dan McTeague, Ian Scott, Andrew Telegdi, Justin Trudeau

Chances: The Dark Horse. A split between Ignatieff and Rae could allow Kennedy to squeak through to the lead on the second or third ballot. But Stephane Dion’s been coming on strong in these last few weeks; he could bump Kennedy down to forth and out of the running on the first ballot. A Kennedy endorsement of Dion could be a powerful play depending on first round voting.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 17.5

Bob Rae
Age: 58

Place of Origin: Ottawa, ON

Tag Line: "Canada needs a party that embraces change."

Political Past: NDP MP for the Toronto riding of Broadview from 1978-82; Rae was the one that brought the motion of non-confidence that toppled the Joe Clark minority government in 1979. Became leader of the Ontario NDP’s in ’82, formed an accord with David Peterson’s minority Liberals in ‘85 and won the 1990 election, becoming Premier of Ontario till 1995. Authored the Rae Report on post-secondary education for McGuinty government as well as advising and mediating on a number of high profile or controversial issues on behalf of the former Liberal government. Name’s been repeatedly thrown around as a potential Governor-General.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: Partner at a Toronto-based corporate law firm, an adjunct professor at the University of Toronto, and a Senior Fellow of Massey College.

Issues: On the Afghan mission, Rae wants greater debate in the short-term and a return to peacekeeping in the long-term. Dedicated to meeting Kyoto standards and desires further, tougher measures to create a greener economy. Wants to work within existing trade agreements to ensure Canada gets a fair shake with trading partners, particularly in regards to softwood lumber. Supports the Kelowna Accord and wants to reinvest in health, education, social justice issues and the arts.

Pluses: Everybody seems to love Bob Rae. He’s picked up the support of the four candidates that removed themselves from the race and a number of other high profile Liberals.

Minuses: His tenure as Ontario Premier was not without controversy. Also, that was a NDP government

Support: Carolyn Bennett, John Godfrey, Jean Lapointe and Ralph Goodale; endorsements from Lloyd Axworthy, Allan MacEachen, Greg Sorbara, Jane Stewart and The Toronto Star

Chances: He’s got the most momentum which means he’s also got the most to loose. But should the majority of delegates wish block Ignatieff’s ascension then he’s the most likely candidate they’ll throw their support behind.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 20

Joe Volpe
Age: 59

Place of Origin: Monteleone, Puglia, Italy

Tag Line: "We need to take it back from the backroom players who hide behind new faces."

Political Past: The former school teacher and administrator was first elected to the House in ’88; held various cabinet positions under Paul Martin including Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Minister responsible for Ontario and for the Greater Toronto Area.

What’s He Doin’ Now?: MP for Eglinton-Laurence

Issues: He’s accused frontrunner Michael Ignatieff of echoing the foreign policy vision of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper and thinks Canada should return to a peacekeeping ethos in foreign affairs, rather than primarily engaging in combat missions. His campaign themes include making education and training a higher priority and improving Canada's system for accommodating immigrants is also to prove that “old-style politics of power brokers, bagmen and backroom boys can no longer have a place in our Party”. (See below.)

Pluses: He was a strong voice in calling out Harper on the Israel/Hezbollah conflict this past summer and is a solid and recognizable centrist in the party. Also has the most federal experience out of anyone else in the field.

Minuses: On June 2nd, it was revealed that the Volpe campaign had received $5,400 in donations from each of three children under the age of 15. All of whom executives of the pharmaceutical company Aptoex. The donations were later returned and subsequently MPs Sukh Dhaliwal and Yasmin Ratansi threw their support to Michael Ignatieff instead. Volpe was fined $20,000 because his campaign allowed membership forms to be distributed to cultural associations in Quebec without ensuring that new members would pay their own membership fee. Volpe was subsequently exonerated, and the fine was withdrawn, but people couldn’t help but see shades of the old scandal plagued Liberals in these two affairs.

Support: A few of his fellow MPs.

Chances: Not great. Volpe’s scandal plagued campaign didn’t help matters, but like Dryden he cam help cement the win of the eventual leader. Don’t look for him past the first ballot.

Per cent support from “Super Weekend”: 5
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  1. Posted by: Dave on Dec 1, 2006 @ 11:36am

    Which candidate is the CSA endorsing? I need to know who I should be rooting for.

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