I've watched Craig Westcott get kicked around for a few days now, by both bloggers and media. Now, lord knows Westcott is a big boy and doesn't really need anyone to rush to his defence. But I think what amuses me the most is the shocked "But why on Earth would he run for the shudder....Conservatives?"
Ummm, because he is one?
Now, understand, I've never had a discussion with Westcott (and I hope he forgives the rudeness of me using his last name and the presumption that he needs defending. From what I've read, he seems to be doing just fine so far) about his politcal party leanings. However, I'm guessing he's a Conservative just by observation. Westcott created a business newspaper. Prior to that, he was also editor of publications focusing on the oil and mining industries. He's very comfortable, in fact enthusiastic, in writing about subjects that would put me in a coma if I tried.
You don't have to be a conservative to find these things interesting, but it helps. And he also runs in these circles a lot, knows the people, gets along with them and understands their problems and, I suspect, to a degree empathizes with them. Remember, he's a businessman. He's running the Business Post practically by himself. It's something that tends to get overlooked when focusing on his journalism background.
So yeah, I think he's probably a Conservative.
What people have a hard time grasping is that he's not a Harper Conservative. And he's certainly not a Williams Conservative (whatever the hell defines Williams particular brand of conservatism). I suspect he's just a Conservative whose particular brand of it isn't popular right now.
Can you be these things? Sure, why not. Look, in the United States there are plenty of Republicans who are horrified by George Bush and aren't thrilled by what they see in McCain/Palin. But they still get involved because, hey, they believe in a certain kind of Republicanism and think it's worth fighting for. Should they not run and give over the party to a fringe wing that they despise, or should they get in there and fight for it?
It wouldn't surprise me at all if Westcott believes in a certain kind of conservatism and believes that's worth fight for, even if it means he has to fight or, even harder for him, cozy up to people that he might not particularly care for. And before the usual suspects cry "sell out!", no, it's politics. Grow up. And that means every politician, at some point in his or her career, has had to make friends with someone they'd just as soon strangle in order to achieve their long-term goals.
"But it's Harper! He's evil!" cry the masses.
Yes, and who says he's going to be around for much longer? Perhaps others have said this, but this election is a huge gamble for Harper. He needs to win a majority or at the very least a very solid minority. If he only gains a seat or two or, worse yet, loses some, he's in real trouble. Some people are going to start asking this very legitimate question: "If you can't win a majority when the political left is as fragmented as it is, and when the Liberals have a leader with virtually no charisma, what exactly are the conditions required for you to win a majority?"
That's a very serious question. Don't be surprised if the results of this election don't go the Conservatives way that Harper's iron grip on his caucus starts to severely fray. He might be out of a job sooner than anyone thinks.
As for Westcott, all I can say is that he's my friend, and that obviously inserts a high degree of bias into what I have to say. And it's not like I have anything really bad to say about Jack Harris either. He's a nice guy.
But if you ask me which one would do a better job representing constituents in Ottawa, which one would be more vocal in fighting and defending the interests of Newfoundland, I'm going to go with Westcott. I watched this man stand up at a Senate Committee on media ownership and accuse his employer - Transcontinental - of deliberately trying to ruin the Express (and hey, how is the Express doing these days?) knowing full well how negatively that action was going to be viewed by his bosses. He has a family to help provide for and he did that anyway because he believed it was true, that it needed to be said and that it might possibly help a growingly desperate situation with the paper.
If you think that doesn't require guts and conviction, then you don't have a clue.
If nothing else, I look forward to the candidates debate. Someone tape it and stick it up on Youtube. It should be highly entertaining.
1. Avenue A (Live) - Tom Cochrane
2. Lives in the balance (live) - Jackson Browne
3. Shame on you - Hot Hot Heat*
4. Win, win - Sean Panting
5. City of blinding lights - U2