Simon's argument on why Stephan Dion and desire to see him as the next Liberal leader, and Prime Minister of Canada, rattled loose something that's been going on in my head ever since I read this article in Saturday's Globe and Mail about Bob Rae.
It isn't so much about Dion than it is about Rae. And that is my utter puzzlement with Rae's success so far in the Liberal leadership campaign.
Now, I understand that each candidate has his or her baggage. Most people will never admit it, but I'm sure part of Scott Brison's problem in this campaign is that he's gay. Dion's baggage is on how well liked he is in Quebec. Michael Ignatieff's is that he was out of Canada for the better part of 30 years and is a political rookie.
By the way, this baggage can be real or perceived. Maybe it's a good thing that Ignatieff was out of Canada so long and doesn't have his mind restricted by the way politicians tend to think, or the way governing is carried out in Canada. And I could give a shit if Brison is gay or not, as long as he could run the country effectively should he ever get the job.
But man, Rae has a two ton stone wrapped around his neck. How can you not destroy him in a federal election?
This is what baffles me when I look at polls saying he's looking pretty good to be the next leader of the Liberal party of Canada. I mean, he seems pretty smart, committed and a good debater. The fact that he actually has a chance to become the next leader says there must be something there that is making most Liberals abandon what I perceive to be common sense.
Because while you could make hay out of a guy crossing from the NDP to the Liberals, here's the thing you can crucify him on all day long - he nearly destroyed Ontario.
Yes, yes, there might have been extenuating circumstance. The economy was in a downturn, he was grossly unprepared for the job, and there was a grand conspiracy or some such thing against him. But the party he led is still widely reviled for nearly destroying the most powerful provincial economy in Canada. While he was leader, the province was a mess. People couldn't wait to vote him out. So much so that electing Mike Harris seemed like a really good idea at the time.
If you're Stephen Harper, you must love this shit. I'm not sure how many of the current Liberal contenders are really the guy to bump Harper off (I found myself agreeing with him again the other day on the decision to put the budget surplus into the debt. It's getting a little scary how often I catch myself agreeing with Harper on things), but Rae must be a dream come through. You can just hammer home on Ontario during the entire campaign. "Elect this man and he will do to Canada what he did to Ontario."
Tada. There's your sound bite. There's your scare mongering. Doesn't matter if it's completely true or not. Doesn't matter if he's a completely changed and wiser man. Five weeks or so of that and its variations and you have a Conservative majority government.
This is why I don't understand why people are supporting Rae. I'm hardly a genius and I know this is coming. And that it will work awfully well, especially in "vote rich" (© Canadian Press) Ontario. So why do this to your party and yourselves? Because barring a miracle, Harper's complete self-destruction or something I'm just plain missing, I don't see how Rae can become prime minister.
That might be unfair. Maybe he's a hell of a guy and would do a great job. But politics aint about fair. It's about picking the right man or woman. It's about picking the person with the best strengths and the weakness you can at least defend against. And I don't see how Rae is going to be able to defend his record in Ontario. I really don't.