There are currently three ‘National’ political leadership races underway. Each has its own narrative in the early months of the process.
The Conservative Party of Canada came out of a weekend convention the last weekend of May and gave the first three contestants plenty of airtime to discuss the early stages of their campaigns and to tell their story and why they are running to be only the 2nd leader of the CPC. It has been a pretty tame race until this week when Maxime Bernier threw down the first major policy platform – the end of supply management for dairy, chicken and egg producers. Bernier called it a subsidy being paid for by 35 million Canadians. It’s a pretty intense subject in the farming community especially since the Federal government has yet to ratify the recently negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership. The announcement came just two days before a major convoy of Quebec dairy farmers came to Parliament Hill to protest in favour of supply management and Quebec dairy concerns. When Bernier was asked what he thought his leadership rivals would say of his announcement and supply management, Maxime asked the reporter to make sure he asked Michael Chong and Kelly Leitch that question to start the debate. As of now, neither Chong nor Leitch have made any public comments.
The CPC membership meanwhile waits and bides its time waiting for the party heavyweights to decide if they will challenge Bernier, Chong and Leitch for the Leadership to be decided in May 2017.
The NDP Leadership race created waves by who decided NOT to seek the top job of the party. Nathan Cullen, who came third in the leadership contest won by Thomas Mulcair, announced that he would not be running. Citing his young family, Cullen will focus on his real pet project – the electoral reform promised by Trudeau. He will lead the NDP into the committee and in the house to their preferred proportional representation model for electoral reform. No single person has announced the intention to take a run at the NDP Leadership. With a small caucus to draw from the list is going to be limited of who might go for it. Those who have publically stated anything about the Leadership include Quebec MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau. Two other names being bounced around from outside the federal scene are Mike Layton, Jack’s son, a Toronto City Councillor and perhaps a more intriguing person, Ontario NDP Deputy Leader and MPP Jagmeet Singh. Having seen Singh work in Queens Park, I can say he is a smart, likeable, young, well-spoken and intelligent politician that would be able to bring a new young activism to the federal party.
UPDATE: Since I posted this on the weekend, Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo (Parkdale-High Park) is set to announce that she will become the 1st official candidate to replace Thomas Mulcair as the Federal NDP Leader. Here is the link to the story posted in the National Post: Three Races
The 3rd National leadership race is that of the Parti Quebecois following the quick departure Pierre Karl Peladeau, members of the PQ will select their new leader October 7th. The PQ race is unlike the others because as of Friday June 3rd, thera are now five candidates, with Lawyer Paul St-Pierre Plamondon seeking support for bringing the party back to its roots of giving Quebecers a political party to call their own. He has written a book titled ‘Les orphelins politiques’. He joins Alexandre Cloutier , Veronique Hivon, Jean-Francois Lisee and Martine Ouellet in the hunt for the leadership.
The main platform that seems to reach us outside of Quebec is that of a referendum. Of the five candidates Ouellet is the only one calling for a referendum in the first mandate of a PQ government. Ouellet ran against Peladeau for the leadership in 2015 and finished third, Cloutier also rain in 2015, coming in second. Of all the five candidates, Plamondon is the only one that is not sitting in the Quebec National Assembly as a MNA. Lisee also sought the leadership last year but was unable to secure the signatures required to meet requirements to run. Veronique Hivon was the Minister in the Marois government responsible for bring in the assisted death legislation that is in place in Quebec. In that process she established a reputation of being able to reach across party lines to get support for the bill.
As the campaign approaches October 7th this leadership has the potential to have one or more out “Quebec” another as they attempt to be seen as the one to bring the PQ back to power to govern within a confederation or to govern as their own nation. I won’t want to try to call heads or tails on this, but it will be fun to follow and read.
There you have it, three different leadership races, and three races going at different speeds. Each has the chance to shape the national political landscape.
I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.