I suppose we should add the Toronto Star’s Bob Hepburn to the pile of Liberal weepers, wailers, and gnashers of teeth who look at the leadership of their party and see nothing but ruin staring them in the face.
In the past, such no-hope candidates often have been nothing short of annoying, irrelevant and delusional.
Never in modern Canadian political history has a leadership candidate in the bottom ranks, those garnering fewer than 10 per cent on the first ballot of their party’s leadership election, gone on to victory.
Of course, Mr. Hepburn gives his preferences away fairly quickly, comparing Jonathan Mousley’s Twitter profile to Justin Trudeau’s. In doing so, he falls into the same trap that most mainstream Liberal-leading pundits have fallen into: the quest for a name-leader who could potentially pull a Moses and lead the party to electoral victory. You might have thought the recruitment of Michael Ignatieff would have taught them a lesson, not to mention the refusals of stalwarts such as Frank McKenna and John Manley to return to the pit. But no.
It might be time for Mr. Hepburn to look at reality in the face. The Liberal Party of Canada is now in third place in Parliament, trying to compete with two other mainstream parties (and yes, the NDP is mainstream, no matter what the partisans say) who have vigorous, hard-nosed leaders competing for voter attention. The Tories have consistently been able to raise more money than the Liberals, which means they can run a more professional, targeted campaign to put their opponents down, and the NDP are rapidly moving into the same position. All of which points to a simple truth: the next Liberal leader, “name” or otherwise, will not become prime minister in 2015. There just isn’t enough time.
Mr. Hepburn’s attitude also speaks of a cynicism that, quite frankly, the Liberal Party does not need, and if that attitude infects the riding association executive and other backroomers, then we might as well get the punditocratic obituaries ready for publication.
Political superstars have to start from somewhere. Martha Hall Findlay and Gerard Kennedy have become names to be reckoned with, exactly because they ran for the leadership. Who’s to say that one of this lot won’t be able to do the same?
Anyway: on with the challenge. We’re going to limit the selection to the pool that Mr. Hepburn so readily rejects, with a little twist. On Twitter, many mainstream pundits have jokingly suggested that the National Post’s Andrew Coyne should make a leadership run. So we’ll toss his name into the pot and see how it goes.