Thursday, January 03, 2013
Why Gerard Kennedy
Today I submitted my intent to be a delegate for Gerard Kennedy at the upcoming Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention. Hopefully I will get the opportunity to support Gerard in Toronto later this month, because this is obviously a critical event that will impact Ontario's future. Reviewing all the contenders, it is clear there are plenty of people with impressive chops, I'm sure the decision process isn't easy for most and I see a myriad of possibilities unfolding at the Convention. However, for myself, Kennedy is the clear choice, both in terms of political leanings, as well as important strategic considerations, fully realizing the daunting task Ontario Liberals face moving forward.
When Premier McGuinty prorogued, most Liberals stayed silent, the decision put many in an awkward position. One of the few internal voices to openly question and criticize the decision, Kennedy did what he always does, follow his moral compass. Pundit Andrew Coyne wondered if this criticism of prorogation was genuine or political, Kennedy simply trying to distinguish himself. A fair question, and had we not ample past evidence to the contrary, perhaps true. However, Gerard Kennedy has risked his narrow political interest before, in the name of a larger sense of duty, a rarity in many respects.
People may recall that when Michael Ignatieff seemed a complete LOCK to succeed Stephane Dion, Gerard Kennedy basically sabotaged his own self interest in the name of democratic principle. The dye was cast, Ignatieff had assembled formidable support- no matter the process I saw him as inevitable, as did most- and yet at the 11th hour Kennedy stood with Bob Rae to challenge the truncated process. Most reasonable observers realized the fight was over, and yet Kennedy made noise, moved to what amounted to a sinking ship in Rae, because he felt it was the right thing to do. Critics can mock the lack of strategic consideration, I admit I was stunned as well, and yet there was something endearing about a truly principled politician, risking alienation and handicapping his own fortunes because Kennedy simply believed in what he was doing.
Kennedy is a true anomaly in Canadian politics, these traits would translate to an excellent Premier that can regain the respect of the electorate and put a polish on a tarnished brand. I admit, I don't think many Liberal partisans quite digest the gradient ahead, the odds clearly favour future defeat, to not see this reality is to delude. With this stark landscape in mind, simple tinkering won't do, the Liberals need someone with some distance from the current baggage, as well as someone with a past conducive to healing wounds. The Ontario Liberal coalition is falling apart, anyone with a doubt need look no further than the recent by-election in Kitchener, which to my mind serves as a microcosm of the problems faced.
Kennedy had a great relationship with the teachers during his stint as Minister, his record is clear. People need to remember this fact moving forward, because past support has been a key winning constituent for many reasons. In a larger sense, Kennedy is removed from "death by a thousand cuts" scenario that currently plagues the Ontario Liberals. What the party desperately needs is a distinct change in direction, Kennedy best suited to bring that, former insider now turned outsider, only he can credibly break with the legacy. Of course, all candidates can create a new atmosphere, give Ontarians a new face, new arguments, a new platform, but Liberals must remember they face a cynical electorate and should choose wisely.
Kennedy is honest. Kennedy is a true progressive, decent, hard working, earnest and attentive. Kennedy is also intelligent, articulate and compassionate. Kennedy has his own baggage, but important to remember some of the mockery amongst political class stems from simply following his reform pursuits, going where he sees most potential, no matter the strategic consequence. Isn't that ideal what we desire in politicians, aren't we sick of slick calculations, narrow self interest trumping a higher "calling"?
Above all I support Gerard because I respect Gerard, truth be told I probably wouldn't have joined the federal Liberals had it not been for his enticing candidacy. Ontario Liberals now face a choice, does their arrogance assume minor tinkering and a quick buff job can regain voter trust, or do they realize that we live on borrowed time and require a true reboot in every sense of the word to re-engage credibly. If you understand the latter, then Gerard Kennedy is hard to ignore.
Posted by Steve V at 8:18 AM