As leadership races go, the race to replace Stephen Harper has been a very low key affair - with a few exceptions. It is a peculiar mix of back room types, previous ministers and even a flashy billionaire for good measure. There has been some very controversial, bordering on out right racist comments made by a number of the front runners - which have marred the race with a distasteful brush. Comments like "Canadian values" tests, bans based on race, and the list goes on. Comments that do not belong in Canadian society let alone a race to lead one of Canada's two contending political parties. A disgraceful race to the guttural bottom.
There is Bernier from Quebec who was sprinkled with pixy dust way back by then Prime Minister Mulroney. Carefully groomed through the ranks, Bernier was seen as a Quebec star apparent until he left confidential national security notes in his Hells Angels girlfriend's bedroom. He was demoted out of Cabinet for that "little mishap", placed in a very quiet place, and kept out of the lime light so he could be brought back at a time like this. Aside from his major mistakes, Bernier is a non-starter outside Quebec. Look to Bernier as a king maker for an Ontario-based contender.
Then there is Kevin O'Leary, the out spoken and somewhat detested billionaire who has made a public career out of running people into the ground - not exactly appealing. Apart from his corrosive personality, O'Leary brings a jump to the race as he does his best to impersonate Donald Trump - for better or worse. The truth is by the time the next Canadian election will be held, the already notorious Trump will be viewed in a much dimmer light. Hardly the role model to lead your party into an election in Canada. For that reason, and that reason alone O'Leary should be ruled out.
The person I initially thought would have the best shot at leadership was Kellie Leitch. Well educated, and well known in Conservative circles, Leitch has all the connections to get her to the top. However, and it always struck me odd, the unwritten rules really forbid a backroom-type from running for the front room, yet that is exactly what Leitch is doing. Even more odd, even bizarre, is her choice of the "Canadian values" flag as her standard. She has really caused herself some significant brand damage with that position - the kind of damage that sticks and never goes away.
Which brings me to the best choice for a brand new leader - Erin O'Toole. O'Toole is an experienced politician. He took the absolutely poisoned Department of Veterans Affairs over from Julian Fantino - a man who managed to completely isolate the Conservatives military vote. In reality, O'Toole's rescue of Veterans Affairs shows he can take a severely damaged brand, and turn things around completely. That is the true test of a good politician and leader. O'Toole is also from Ontario, where the Conservatives need to win big. He is unassuming, down to earth, friendly, but also serious. He inspires trust - a key necessity for the Conservatives. He is also the perfect contrast to Trudeau. He is not flash and dash with no substance. It cannot be emphasized enough that the perfect foil to Trudeau's terrible performance will be key in the next election.
Now having stated that Erin O'Toole should be the next leader of the Conservative Party, I wonder if the Party itself can see the forest for the trees. Will it be another case of a pre-set leadership race, with pre-planned alliances giving us the all too predictable result - as has been the case in the past? Will Bernier cross the floor to Leitch to crown her, and she in turn make him her Quebec lieutenant? Or could it be visa versa? Time will tell, but the Conservatives need to make the right decision this time. No Harper like candidate (read Leitch or O'Leary). No Quebec-first candidate (read Bernier). No Mr. Nice Guy but no substance candidate (like the ex-Speaker). What they need is a reasonable and trustable person, who has a good record in government with no associated negative baggage. That bill fits Erin O'Toole perfectly. If the Conservative Party of Canada has learned anything, the next Conservative Party leader will be Erin O'Toole.
Here's to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the
round pegs in the square holes... the ones who see things differently -- they're
not fond of rules... You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify
them, but the only thing you can't do is ignore them because they change
things... they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the
crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that
they can change the world, are the ones who do.
US computer engineer & industrialist (1955 - 2011)