As the clock ticks down to the opening of the Fall session of the House of Commons the public is starting to see the first real signs of life in both the NDP and Conservative leadership races. Of course the real question remains who wants to be the equivalent of a “caretaker” until the 2019 election is out of the way. At this point unless Trudeau commits a monumental blunder or his government gets embroiled in some type of scandal it will be hard to take him down in the next election.
The Conservatives with the incredibly stupid length of time that they have given their leadership race have all but guaranteed that Trudeau will not face a very effective Opposition until this race is decided. When your best and your brightest are slugging it out for the prize, they are distracted from the task of countering the Liberals in the House. That task will generally fall to the second tier of MPs. The only bonus to that is that once in a while one of these MPs steps up and becomes a star.
As with most leadership races (regardless of political party) the voting public will be treated to leadership candidates turning on each other like dogs fighting for a bone. While the nastiness and name calling might end in May 2017, the divisions and animosities created will linger on until well after the 2019 election.
On the Conservative side we already seeing the usual assortment of fringe candidates put their name forward. One of the few ways that they will be able to stand out from the crowd will be to take more extreme policy positions. In addition we can be pretty well guaranteed that various factions will be refighting the battles of the 1970s and 1980s. This will not only give the Trudeau Liberals some wonderful ammunition for the 2019 election, but quite possibly drive away more moderate voters. In the end it will be the inability to raise funds on an ongoing basis that will knock most of these candidates out of the race. Unfortunately leadership candidates will find it all too tempting to put “me first” in an all-out effort to win and they will ignore the long term damage to the party brand.
While Mulcair is getting a dose of the usual backstabbing that goes on after a leader is blamed for an election loss, the Conservatives are still waiting for a high profile candidate to want the job. O’Toole and Raitt are still waiting to be heard from and as neither is labelled as coming from the Reform or PC side of the founding parties they can claim to represent the new party. MacKay has promised an answer soon and Andrew Scheer is supposed to be interested. All we have seen from O’Leary to date is posturing and an ability to milk the media for self-promotion. Certainly the publicity isn’t hurting his business interests. Speaking of which can you imagine how interesting it would be if he was every faced with the prospect of putting all of his business interests into a blind trust. It would be shades of Paul Martin all over again, but probably a lot more complicated.
Time is quickly marching on as the unofficial decision deadline of October is rapidly approaching. Who will be in? Who will be out? At this point in time it’s not something the voting public cares about.