The Tory leadership candidates held the French language debate last night (Jan 17) and collectively they decided it was time to take frontrunner Maxine Bernier down a peg, by piling on and dubbing him Mad Max (you know, for having policies and stuff). Nothing says desperate so much as taking potshots at the guy in front. And note how well that worked for Trump's opponents leading up to and over the Republican primaries. But in case you're not quite up to date on the 14 declared candidates heres a handy primer on who's who:
Erin O'Toole: The establishment favourite, and predictably has the usual non-platform platform, his major plank so far being tax credits for youth unemployment and student debt. So to the former, presumably means tax breaks for companies hiring younger workers, which has been tried for decades with little to no success, and the latter presumably would allow students to deduct student debt from future earnings. All in all his platform is the usual miss mash of 'inclusiveness','making Canada stronger' (by continuing to do what everyone else has done). God he's boring, which is why the Tories will probably shoot themselves in the foot and choose him. Canadian Tories have a long history (aside from Sir John A. McDonald) of electing deadly dull somewhat wimpy looking candidates (Robert Stansfield, Joe Clarke) and trying to sell the electorate on Liberal Lite as opposed to offering real policies, and O'Tool fits that mould to a T.
Lisa Raitt: Well she's a woman, and as Trudeau Jr. would say, "it's 2017." Raitt's platform is introducing balanced budgets, and prioritizing the development of Canada's natural resources. Well she's from Alberta so that kind of makes sense doesn't it? I mean her whole platform/campaign could be summarized as, "Hey I'm from Alberta, I'm a chick, but I'm not Rachel Notley." And don't knock it, there are worse platforms on this list, like for instance Chris Alexander.
Chris Alexander: After going on CBC and making an ass of himself over the Syrian refugee situation, and helping the Tories lose the election, Alexander's big idea is, wait for it, more refugees, Yay! Cause it's working so well for Sweden and Germany, why not replicate it in Canada (and yes, that's sarcasm). How did this guy ever get into cabinet anyway? He's another Tory insider that's how, and so it potentially makes him and his bad ideas a kingmaker at the convention.
Michael Chong: Chong's big thing is climate change, as in he's a devotee to that particular religion and wants all Canadians to tithe accordingly. With Trudeau Jr.'s carbon tax not yet implemented and already facing growing opposition, one has to question the wisdom of making this the centrepiece of his campaign. Oh but wait, Chong assures us his carbon pricing will be 'revenue neutral' uh, yeah, tell that to the residents of British Columbia who were promised a revenue neutral carbon tax.
Kellie Leitch: Leitch, in case you hadn't heard, is a doctor, a doctor for sick kids, in fact a surgeon no less, which might think, would get her a little respect from the media, but you'd be wrong, female doctor, brave, shining example to girls everywhere, if you're to the left, anything on the right, you're automatically a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal (although apparently Neanderthal's had larger brains than us, so uh, who's really the Neanderthal... but I digress). Anyway Leitch is opposed to a national carbon tax, wants to dismantle the CBC, wants a Canadian values test for immigrants and (sort of) endorsed Donald Trump's presidency, give the lady kudos for having some balls. Aside from one other candidate on this list, she's the only one with a defined platform, listing real issues, disagree with them if you want, but she's honest at least.
Steven Blaney: Trying to follow Leitch with a proposal to ban the niquab (or is it niqab, stupid spell check) while voting or taking the oath of citizenship, and, get this, for federal employees as well. Dude, seriously, have you read the Constitution? I mean sure, it has some merit, but also a non-starter (the federal employees part I mean). For the rest it's the usual pudding of vague economic promises, on the plus side he's not Erin O'Toole.
Kevin O'Leary a.k.a Mr Wonderful: Clearly O'Leary's thinking is, if Trump can do it, I can do it. Except Canada doesn't have much of a history of electing populists, nor does it have much of a history of embracing entrepreneurs, so you would think O'Leary would have limited appeal, and did I mention he doesn't speak French (he didn't take part in the French language debate). Not to mention he's not a very good debater in English. Once on CBC I watched him listen to Linda McQuaig spew a bunch of economically illiterate nonsense and his only response was, "you must be a horrible person to meet at a party." With cutting repartee like that he should eviscerate the opposition (yes, sarcasm again).
Deepak Obhrai: At least he's not another white guy, is about the most anyone can say about him. His platform consists of, "making the Conservative Party more inclusive." That's right up there with Trudea Jr.'s "diversity is our strength not our weakness," liturgy. Says he'll step aside if Peter MacKay (the new improved Erin O'Toole) decides to run, which is, uh, inspirational.
Andrew Scheer: Just 37 years old, well bless his heart, isn't he precocious. States he is an unapologetic Conservative who can unite the wings of the party... meaning what exactly, since you just said you're an unapologetic Conservative? Also wants lower taxes and fiscal responsibility, well don't we all, beyond that what do you stand for? Although he is a well connected Tory insider, so he too will probably be a factor at the convention.
Brad Trost: A hardcore social conservative, who advocates tax increases, the best of all worlds (no, I don't think I'm overdoing the sarcasm). What else is there to say about him, he's got the Mennonite vote cornered.
Pierre Lemieux: Basically the same as Brad Trost, except he's from Quebec and not as rubbery looking (oh boo, personal attacks, I know, couldn't resist).
Rick Peterson: Another outsider like O'Leary, except without any celebrity to raise his profile. Hence, unlike O'Leary, he recognized the need to present some sort of platform, which in part includes, eliminating corporate taxes and raising the GST to nine percent. Look Rick I get the economics behind that, and I guess you should get a tip of the hat for making an honest stab at it, but come on, you're never going to sell that to the Canadian people.
Andrew Saxton: Running purely on fiscal responsibility, balancing budgets and lowering taxes, however to square that circle you must reduce spending, but he's mum so far on that. Also has newspaper baron, David Black as his major supporter, and you don't get much more corrupt than that (that's right, you heard me, corrupt.)
Maxine Bernier: And finally we come to Maxine Bernier, whose opponents' and the media (not sure who started it) have dubbed Mad Max; cause my God he's running for public office and has released a comprehensive platform of smaller government, lower taxes, an end to corporate welfare, reform of healthcare, privatization of Canada Post (which the UK did 30 years ago) and scaling back the CBC to public service broadcasting, and that is just some of the highlights of his platform. No wonder his fellow Tories and the media call him mad, who runs on policies these days, doesn't he know it's supposed to be vague promises and slogans? My advice to Bernier (and I'm sure he reads my blog regularly) is to adopt Mad Max as his nome de guerre, he's not business as usual and his establishment opponents fear him. Although Bernier despite being the frontrunner, is the real outsider candidate, and will have to ride a wave of populist support if he wants to upset the Tory coronation of Erin O'Toole in May.