The format for deciding the outcome of the Conservative Party leadership race means that 2nd, 3rd and even lower choices matter … and might matter a lot.
It’s no secret that I support Erin O’Toole, he’s my first choice, but: “Conservative members,” CTV News explains, “will cast their ballots once, ranking up to 10 of the 14 candidates listed. They can choose to rank only their top choice, or any number of options between one and 10. But they only get one crack at it … [and] … That means, if a surprise choice emerges in the top three or four, members won’t have the chance to rejig their ballots to react. And if they’re unhappy with an emerging frontrunner, they can’t change their votes to try to rally around a strong second option and stop that frontrunner. It makes the result even more unpredictable.” It (a ranked or preferential ballot) is a useful format in a national race where there are more than a dozen candidates, but it is not a good, much less the best system for Canada’s general elections. The system means that the candidates receiving the fewest votes will be dropped, in succession, and their votes redistributed until one candidate receives 50%+1 of the available votes. It’s a bit too complex for many applications, but workable, with computer assisted calculation, in this case.
But it means that my second and third and, perhaps, even 10th choice, will matter.
Who will that be?
Perhaps, first, I can explain who it will not be …
- At the very, very bottom 14 out of 14, will be Kevin O’Leary who is, in my considered opinion, a dime store celebrity, at best, and, in reality, a Liberal ~ an old fashioned Pierre Trudeau Liberal with his roots in the 1970s. I know he’s quite popular with many, many people, including many so called conservatives. In my view no thinking Conservative could possibly support him on fiscal, industrial or foreign-defence policy grounds. He’s a fake … it’s as simple as that;
- Down very near the bottom will be Deepak Obhrai who is, in every respect an honourable and estimable man but who is not, as far as I can see, any sort of proven political leader, and who cannot possibly, unite our Party and then defeat Prime Minister Trudeau. He a good man but he cannot win;
- Worse, in many respects, than Mr Obhrai is Brad Trost, who is also a very decent, honest and principled man, but who holds rigid social-conservative views that are anathema to a vast majority of Canadians. He cannot win against Justin Trudeau and, worse, he would split the Party and costs us millions of votes. He will do damage even if he does well in this race by giving the Liberals and NDP ammunition to say that we are a bunch of religious fanatics who want a medieval Christian version of Sharia law in Canada.
The mushy middle
There are a large number of candidates who are in the middle: they are, all, without exception, good, honourable people with some good ideas but they cannot hope to win the leadership, except by a voting fluke, nor unite the Party nor defeat Justin Trudeau.
The next three
But there are three candidates who have a chance and who could get my 2nd and 3rd and 4th place votes … in no particular order they are:
Maxime Bernier ~ I support almost everything M. Bernier says about freedom, free(er) trade, corporate welfare and taxes. He is a proven social moderate, even a progressive; I just do not believe that he can unite the Party and then defeat Prime Minister Justin Trudeau;
- Kellie Leitch ~ while I disagree with her proposal to screen immigrants, refugees and visitors for “Canadian values,” it is the process with which I disagree, not her views on our values. I guess I understand why she is taking this particular course but I think it is wrong headed. On all other issues, however, she is a good, solid, mainstream Conservative and, I think, a social moderate. I do worry about her French; it is not good enough, but every leadership candidate, except Messers Bernier and Lemieux need better French; and
- Andrew Scheer ~ despite his social conservative leanings, with which I disagree, he is touching almost all the right bases and saying almost all the right things, too. I am impressed by the number of sitting MPs who support him; that speaks to an ability to unite our Party and that’s important.
I am encouraged by the large field of contestants, even by Kevin O’Leary; it demonstrates that many, many good people think that our Conservative party will, soon, return to office to bring good government to Canadians.
I have made by 1st choice: I believe that Erin O’Toole is the best person to lead our Party and our country; my 2nd and 3rd (and maybe 4th and even 5th) choices are still up in the air and some (Dr Leitch, for example,) might drop back into the middle of the pack while others (perhaps Ms Raitt) might move up.