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.


UnEvil One said...

Unfortunately, you've also covered a couple of reasons he is hated by the party's inner circle:

Steve V said...

Who cares? The Liberals need an "outsider" component moving forward or we will be playing full on defense the entire time, and we'll lose.

Richard said...

We need to choose the leader most likely to win the next provincial election. Too much is risked by allowing internal differences to fester.

kristin said...

Re: Warren Kinsella - this is a person with no integrity. Gerard Kennedy is the formulaic answer to what Kinsella says is wrong with the party, and yet he is supporting the candidate that the party and the government is pushing to win from the inside. and when you try to tell him that, he blocks you on twitter. The party needs change... just as soon as we win this time using the old ways that we all know are tired and keep making us lose. (I don't have anything against Sandra Pupatello, my comments only relate to Kinsella.)

Gerard is not only the leader most likely to win the next election, he is the one most likely to stave off an election the longest by actually being able to work with the other parties and stakeholders.

he's also got the best shot at actually renewing the party and making us proud to be liberals again.

Fred from BC said...

Good choice, Steve. It's about time you guys picked someone who could actually pose a credible threat to Stephen Harper.

Jan Mowbray said...

The problems we have in Ontario were created by those in power now. How can we possibly move forward with ANY of them? We can't. Gerard knows how to collaborate, he has the best chance within the party and with the other parties. I've thrown my support behind Gerard and will stand as a delegate for him.

Just on the one issue of Slots at the Racetrack Program (SARP) - he's the only one willing to discuss it.
The others are now suddenly interested in supporting rural issues - they created the problem. Without SARP - we have $1.1billion less going into the treasury annually. Without SARP we have an additional 55,000 people added to the unemployment rolls. Without SARP we are threatened with American-style casinos coming to Canada. Casinos in Canada are losing money for the most part. Will American casinos lose money? No, but the profits won't be going to the provincial coffers either. Where will we get an additional $1.1billion to replace the slots money? Too many questions for me and two few answers. I wholeheartedly support Gerard Kennedy.

Jerry Prager said...

I agree. About Kennedy and and Kinsella: punks are always reactionaries.