05.09.2011 07:19 AM

Good morning, Ottawa

It’s a beautiful sunny morning in Ottawa, to which I have returned for the first time in many months. I’m here to give a speech about the Canadian political future with the Cons’ Tim Powers and the Dippers’ Brad Lavigne.

It’s a closed-door session, so I won’t give away what I intend to say. It’s Top Secret!

But on the issue that needs to be settled this week – who should be the Grits’ interim leader until a full-time one is selected by party members – here’s what I think:

1. Bob Rae is fine, but only if he pledges to be interim, and he doesn’t run for the full-time post. I get the impression he doesn’t want to agree to that, which will sink him.

2. Stephane Dion is an awesome choice, since he’s (a) been leader and (b) he’s a Quebecker – which is the place where we have the greatest potential for growth, as the Dipper Kiddie Kaucus continues to stumble.

3. Ralph Goodale doesn’t speak French, and is therefore not a good idea.

There you go. That and fifty cents will get you a cup of coffee.

Have a nice day, Ottawans. Enjoy the calm before the storm.


  1. Kevin says:

    Mr. Kinsella, please please please, if you have any influence with Mr. Chretien, stop him from pushing Bob Rae as leader. Bob Rae will not accept anything less than leader going into the next election and that, fellow concerned citizen, will be the final nail in the coffin for the LPC. Chretien is becoming a joke around the water coolers with this play and that, is most unfortunate.

    • Dr.J says:

      I agree Rae is pure poisin in Ontario

    • AmandaM says:

      Wait a sec. It’s all good. M. Chretien is backing Bob Rae as INTERIM leader, not the next REAL leader. Which is brilliant because Chretien knows that Rae is poison and cannot be the next capital-L Leader, and this gives Rae a chance to call himself Leader, which is what he wants, without it hurting the party long-term. Chretien = master of these kinds of compromises.

      • Phil says:

        Amanda, your tongue is firmly planted in cheek, right? Rae will accept nothing less and I see nothing in Chretien’s past/present suggesting he doesn’t want Rae long term. If we don’t wake up to what’s been happening for a decade now and start COMPLETELY fresh, the big L will NOT stand for Liberal. It’ll again be… LOSER. Come on guys, stop with the losing old guard, we need updated platforms and leaders!

        • AmandaM says:

          Of course, I was assuming that Rae understands he is NOT the future of this party, merely a placeholder. And I was assuming that Chretien knows that Rae knows, etc etc. 😉

  2. Michael says:

    How about Denis Coderre? He is bilingual, straight forward, not affraid to speak and act, everything the Libs needs right now to rebuild the party. I say we should wait a year or two before choosing a leader and stick with the interim until things are settle (direction of the party). New blood is defenitly needed now with new ideas.

  3. Rae sucks. Guess he wishes now that he stayed with the NDP eh! Can the leader, interim or otherwise cross the floor?

  4. Ted says:

    Can you let me know where you can get a cup of coffee in Toronto for 50 cents? Especially with Timmies raising their prices.

  5. Dr.J says:

    What about Scott Brison? He said he doesn’t want the big chair plus he is biligual, a good speaker, smart and more importantly doesn’t remind people of the past such as Mr.Dion would

  6. bigcitylib says:

    50 cents? Can you ge anything at Starbucks for under $2?

    • Robin says:

      50 cents is usually the minimum Starbucks requires for an initial installment on their latte lay-away plans. Unless you qualify for financial aid, of course, 50 cents is a good downpayment on a frappucino.

  7. Pat Heron says:

    How about Ken Dryden? He’s thoughtful and perceptive and would bring people together. He epitomizes liberal/Liberal values.

  8. Bob says:

    Bob Rae is 62, 66 by the next election. We need younger Liberals to step forward….

    Warren – are you going to run in the Beach in 2015?

    • Ted says:

      For leadership, yes. For interim leader though, I think he’d be very well suited.

      It will be very difficult for the Liberals to get media attention, to get their message out, to maintain any sense of party/caucus discipline, to make any inroads in Quebec. Rae would provide all of that.

      While he’s 63 this year and therefore nearly 67 by the time the next election rolls around, St. Laurent was 66, Pearson was 66 and Martin was 64 when they each ran in the election that made them PM. Whatever their other faults, age was not it when they won.

      Still, they were in much different positions and I think Rae’s best spot is interim leader but no leadership.

    • wannabeapiper says:

      Warren is not responding and being a tad coy. As far as I am concerned, he should run in Beaches East York and go for the Leadership. Maria Minna is gone and the timing is perfect in my view.

      No more piano playing leaders neither, this time we have a Punk Rocker-great press or what.

    • Anonymous says:

      Harper will be 56 in 2015 and Layton will be 64. So 66 isn’t that old. Goodale is also about that age, incidentally.

  9. Lance says:

    You know what, Stephane Dion as a choice for interim leader would be a pretty good idea; not only for the reasons you say, but also because he doesn’t have any leadership ambitions and people don’t expect him to. The problem is, after what his wife said regarding the fate of the Liberal party, would people want that around going forward?

  10. Dana says:

    Perfect Pat Heron! The Liberals interim leader should be someone who was just defeated and lost his seat!! Genius!!!

    Perhaps Pat Heron should be the interim leader. Genius like that shouldn’t be wasted.

  11. Harith says:

    Bringing back Dion would be a huge mistake. The tories would just bring back all the material from before.

    Dion is a good man, but he had his chance and lost to the tory attack machine.

  12. Dan F says:

    I’m thinking Marc Garneau. If he can pilot a space shuttle, he might be able to pilot the LPC through this difficult time…

  13. TofKW says:

    Folks, it isn’t the issue of Bob Rae being the interim leader that’s the problem, the issue is the process.

    The question is should the interim leader be chosen by the 34 sitting MPs by listening to the grassroots, or should a former PM + unelected senators make that decision?

    If it is the later, that signals a gigantic F-U to the grassroots …and paying no attention to the grassroots is the main problem with the Liberals.

    Bob Rae as interim leader is actually a good choice, provided the rank & file of the party are who placed him there. Dion, I think, would be an excellent choice too; as would Scott Brison (if bilingual – not sure if he is).

    • Patrick Hamilton says:

      Scott Brison would be my choice, and yes, he is bilingual(spoken with a bit of a Nova Scotian accent)….

  14. Cath says:

    “1. Bob Rae is fine, but only if he pledges to be interim, and he doesn’t run for the full-time post. I get the impression he doesn’t want to agree to that, which will sink him.”

    Right-on on this point Warren. Also the provincial Liberals don’t want this guy anywhere NEAR the provincial campaign – it will do more than sink him, it might have that effect on McGuinty fortunes as well.

    “2. Stephane Dion is an awesome choice, since he’s (a) been leader and (b) he’s a Quebecker – which is the place where we have the greatest potential for growth, as the Dipper Kiddie Kaucus continues to stumble.”

    Oddly enough a very good choice, but after the shit-kicking Dion took even from members of his own party & caucus I hope quietly that he’d refuse.

    “3. Ralph Goodale doesn’t speak French, and is therefore not a good idea.”

    Um….have you met the missing NDP MP? Not sure that this is a deal breaker any more.

    While your giving your talk don’t forget to shine a very bright light on Elections Canada it’s future on our political landscape because it needs a serious overhaul.

    • AmandaM says:

      Cath, Point 1 is an excellent, excellent point.

      Just to expand on it a bit and think out loud:
      – If the party wants to keep as many Liberal provincial heads of government as possible, Rae is the last person to choose heading into next fall’s 7, possibly 8, P/T elections.
      – Most people I know don’t really get the difference between provincial and federal governments, so if Warren et al are looking to stop Ontarians from going over to the Hudak/Hillier gang, Bob Rae is a really bad choice.
      – Considering that a pile of Ontarian, and more to the point Torontonian, Liberals voted CPC in the federal election out of fear of an NDP minority, means that Ontarians still suffer a PTSD reaction when the mere possibility of an NDP government is spoken out loud. That’s not going to change in 5 months, not even with the first-rate campaign that I’m sure is being planned.

      Nope, not Bob Rae. Leader needs to be innocuous, and so I think Brison is our man.

      • Attack! says:

        [The interim] “Leader needs to be innocuous”…

        why? The next year or two’s going to involve a whole bunch of skeletons & zombies finally coming out, with all the delayed & suppressed watchdog reports, RCMP investigations & court cases, on:

        * the obscene G8 & G20 non-sustainable-job-creation, targeted CPC riding favouring pork-barreling spending;

        * the In-and-Out, cheating on the 2006 scandal;

        * the knowingly (or at least, strong reason to believe-ingly) turning Afghan detainees over to people they were very likely to be tortured by, War Crimes issue;

        * the political staffers interfering with Access to Information requests;

        * the many conflicts of interest and misallocation of funds the PMO and Bruce Carson were involved with, re: that U of Calgary affiliate they subverted from a Clean Energy think tank to a Dirty Oil Spintank;

        * the dirty tricks in this latest election; etc.

        Why not have a Stephen Harper (circa 1993) or John Baird pitbull type at the helm for the HOC duties, which are all about the QP soundbites, rather than a wimp the others can browbeat, esp. someone like Brison, whom they keep embarrassing with his quotes AGAINST the Libs. before he crossed the floor?

        Sure, the new leader will need to be a more ‘hopeful’ than ‘hateful’ type, but if the interim leader’s major role is mainly to be very good at giving the govt grief in QP, then THAT should be the criterion, not how “nice” they are.

        • AmandaM says:

          I just don’t want the Interim doing ANYTHING on either the hopeful or hateful side that commits the party to anything. I want the next guy/gal to have a clean slate. Let the other goes after Brison with old quotes, who cares anymore. Canadians have meted out their punishment and won’t be focused on us for the next 4 years, they’ll be watching the Harper/Jack show.

          We are now the THIRD party. We don’t get as many question in QP as the Dippers, and is how we kept the Dippers to ~40 seats for so long – as the third party, there is very little opportunity to move ahead without budget or time, especially in a majority where the third party matters very little. Canadians have taken away the privilege of the Liberal Party of Canada to be the main responder to all of the scandals that will break over the next two years, and handed it to Mr. Layton. And that’s why the interim needs to be able to hold the party together, put out as positive a message as he is given time to put forth, not do anything to screw it up with the provincial liberal governments, and happily move aside when the time comes.

  15. Wayne says:

    As interesting as the interim leader speculation is, for me the real question is – who will be the new Party President? The way I see it, the interim leader’s job for the next little while will be to babysit the Parliamentary Caucus. The real focus of the first phase of the rebuilding process should be organizational. Therefore the work undertaken by the President and the National Executive will be key.

    BTW- why hasn’t the current President resigned yet?

    • KenzoS says:

      Hear, hear on that!

    • Brian says:

      The interim leader has an additional job: not to lose even more vote share.

      Which is why Dion strikes me as a very odd choice. If you’re looking for interim + stable + helpful in Quebec w/out creating a backlash in the Rest of Canada, surely Marc Garneau – astronaut, naval officer, engineer, and representative of a very marginal seat that could use some shoring up – is a better choice for the Grits?

      Not being of the Liberal persuasion, I don’t know enough to know whether Garneau is actually a contender for the FT job. However, he’d be a fresh face if he’d be open to it. Not an easy guy for Tories to punch up on motive or public service. Dion, on the other hand, would reinforce the slide backwards even further, by reminding everyone why the Liberals are in purgatory in the first place.

    • que sera sera says:

      Why hasn’t the current President resigned yet??????.

  16. CQ says:

    I also stated pt. 2, re: Dion as a post-election interim leader here in these comments. I’ll take 25 cents and a sugar packet please!

  17. KenzoS says:

    I would renew my Lib faith and roll up my sleeves and help rebuild our badly damaged party, if only someone could kindly point me towards this Holy Grail, aka- a fresh cup of 50 cent coffee, in this God forsaken town.

  18. Ed says:

    I’m weary of Rae, even in the interim, for many of the reasons raised above (entrenchment of old ideas, seeming to want the top job above the considerations of the best thing for the party moving forward, past bad deeds in Ontario, open talk on election night about a merger,the Chretien bump, though thats through no fault of his own). However, he is strong, he is smart on a portfolio that both the CONs and the dippers leave something to be desired (foreign policy, though his choice on Afghanistan was awful and allowed the NDP some oxygen last fall after the long gun vote tore their caucus apart). My one major caveat about Rae though is the fact that while he projects a steady image, if anyone really goes and studies his history, in the LPC or NDP, they will see he is pretty bad with political strategy i.e. saying the right thing at the right time. Time and again he underestimates how his actions will disrupt the public discourse to the detriment of the Liberal party. Wells’ article in the newest Macleans only magnifies this, with it being his idea to have Iggy tell Harper “your time is up”. For those reasons, I would seriously urge others to conider options like Marc Garneau for the interim.

    As for leadership, one thing that I saw mentioned above specifically but not generally is the consideration of a leader who does not yet hold a seat (or lost it on Monday). Along with current MP’s like Dominic LeBlanc (my first choice from caucus), I would urge taking a look at Martha Hall Findlay, Mark Holland, Gerrard Kennedy and others. We have four years. Lets use it wisely to consider all options, not just 34 as it stands.

  19. Ed says:

    And I’m with Wayne on the Alf Apps thing. If anyone in the Liberal Party was really “in it for himself”, that media darling (I wanted to use another word but I’m a gentleman) is it. The nerve of him coming out after the election and saying this result was nobody’s fault was the last straw for me. Combine that with all the things he said during the election (Hell yes we’ll raise taxes!) and before and it’s quite obvious that there needs to be a housecleaning.

  20. james curran says:

    I’m going to say this one more time.

    If we ignore our own constitution there will be no renewal. It’s really that simple. We’ll see what bullshit spew out of the mouths of the National Executive as to how we decided to break rule 54.

    Also, I think It’s a shame that some MPs have been in Ottawa so many years and failed to assert themselves in such a way as to NOT learn to speak French. Offensive actually.

    How do I get in on this 50 cent coffee thing?

    • Michael says:

      I have no idea what rule 54 is and I am going to bet that 99.9% of Canadian voters don’t know and furthermore, do not give a rat’s ass about rule 54.

      We were all up in arms about contempt of parliament and respect for democracy. The average voter yawned and voted for Harper.

  21. Philip says:

    Dion would be a good fit, as long as he also understood the job was offered as an interim position. A division of responsibilities should also be considered. The party rebuild has to proceed riding by riding, region by region with little reference to the national perspective until the last phases. Having an interim leader for as long as possible would help keep the focus off leadership and on to the nuts and bolts of the rebuild. There is also no handle for attack ads, as the position is interim. The Liberal leadership horse race speculation takes our focus off what needs to be done. I would prefer an interim leader, handling the day to day HoC activities, for 18 to 24 months rather than rush the whole process.

  22. jack says:

    1. First choice – someone from Quebec. 2. Someone French speaking from the west (if there is such a person)

    Not Rae or Dion. The Libs have to show they are charting a new course. Even with an interim leader. Goodale would be perfect if he spoke French.

  23. Patrick Hamilton says:

    I would humbly suggest Scott Brison as interim leader, since he has decided he has no leadership aspirations given he would like to start a family.

    He’s smart, can think on his feet, politically savvy, and is bilingual(with a bit of a Nova Scotian accent of course), and his biggest asset is that he isnt afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty.

    And anyone who knows Scott is aware he would take a bullet for the party.

    Of course there would be those who would be opposed because hes gay, or because he was once a Progressive Conservative, but given that he would only be interim leader, perhaps those objections might be overcome….

    My two cents…

    • TofKW says:

      Actually I think because Scott Brison is bilingual (glad to hear that’s true), young, a former PC Tory, and gay; that makes him a perfect candidate for the job. It reinforces that the Liberals are a big-tent party looking to renew. Brison’s face also reminds other Red Tories like myself that the Liberals are still a party of fiscal responsibility. Bob Rae doesn’t help so much there.

      Also from all of Scott’s efforts in rebuilding the Progressive Conservative Party, and now the Liberal Party – he needs to be given something to show for all his dedication over the years.

      • Patrick Hamilton says:

        Quite frankly, I couldnt agree more.

        I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Brison, starting from my days in the Progressive Conservative Party.

        Mr. Brison was always willing to come out to BC when asked to do fundraisers, without hesitation.

        He was also willing to give up his seat for Mr. Clark when he really didnt have to. This proved to me that he was a team player, first and foremost.

        I didnt vote for Mr. Brison for leader of the PC’s( I believe he was open to merger at that time) because I thought our best chances of electability were with Peter MacKay.

        Now I wished Id voted for David Orchard, lol.

        • Philip says:

          I hadn’t considered Brison before as I thought he wasn’t bilingual. But now, I would pick
          him over Dion. We do need an effective communicator in both official languages, in the short to medium term there are opportunities in PQ. That said the next full time leader should be chosen with an eye towards BC and Manitoba.

          • Craig Chamberlain says:

            We need someone fresh — perhaps Brison represents that. People said they wanted change. Or a lot more of the same.

          • Craig Chamberlain says:

            Former PCer is an asset. Former NDPer is not.

  24. Phil says:

    You guys are nutz and STILL haven’t learned anything, unbelievable?! Dion is a HUGE mistake. We want to get RID of losing platitudes and pontifications. Dion is everything wrong with the Liberal Party, ie: do as I say, pomposity, ridiculous green taxes etc…. Canadians rejected him outright, we need NEW blood or, at the very least, blood that has NEVER been tainted! His face and voice leading us after Canadians clearly showed their distaste for the guy?!?! Sheesh…shaking my head here guys, wake-up!!!

  25. Jim Hanna says:

    Fine, a constitutional issue needs to be resolved, but right now no one else is pushing for an immediate leadership, in an election year, when a lot of thinking and fundraising has to be done.

    Have a leadership convention, exactly by the constitution, right now. Forget fundraising, thats obviously unnecessary, we got tons of money, right? Since those that had it probably already hit their maximums contributing to the party/ridings/candidates. Forget signing up new members, since we’re going to run out of time with the deadlines. all the best organizers, I’m sure they’re not burned out having worked on the election campaign (and if they aren’t they should be). And having a debate about where this party is and where it should be? Lets reduce it to leader’s soundbites in some sort of race which favours the “big names” since they will appeal to the base of members that we pretty much now have. They we will have a leader elected to essentially the same structure, who can then wipe the slate clean and put his own people in, since, as has been the case for the last 15 or so years, the whole executive has been the leaders (or heir apparent’s) favourites.

    Then have 4 years of fabulous attack ads while we are struggling with the money to respond.

    Or, find a way to take a breather on this; take advantage of the $1,000/year/ per leadership campaign to allow the candidates to develop fundraising mechanisms (which can be turned over to the party); allow the leadership candidates the chance to develop memberships, and in the meantime lets build up all the ridings. Get the members talking about what we need as a leader and where we are going, without the pressure of picking sides (ie, the next convention). Lets have a bottom up process where we get together and plan this and put into place a national executive that represents the party, instead of having that debate and that executive coming out of the leadership process. Lets have a party that develops policy and grooms candidates and gets them elected. And we don’t need a savior right now to do that for us, the last few have failed. We need to start doing it for ourselves. And then Canadians will see a truly democratic party, where their ideas and goals are reflected back to them.

    As for the constitution; we are in a trap we set for ourselves. We have made such a pariah of losing, that we forced the hand of Ignatieff the day after, as with Martin. Turner, somehow, stuck on throughout a term of constant sniping. Had Ignatieff not had to heed the calls and the fear of even worse for his head the day after, perhaps he could have stayed on for another year or so, and stepped down when it was best for the party. Instead he was driving to state his intention right away, and look where we are. The constitution is clearly not flexible enough, and in this case just because the national executive recognized that doesn’t make them wrong. I heard all sorts of Liberals calling on the party to wait for a leadership vote before the executive or Apps chimed in. If we were in a minority parliament, we’d need a new leader as soon as possible; but we have 4 years, nearly 4 1/2, and we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of the time wisely, to prepare the groundwork for a successful new leader, to not give the Tories a target (although, as an aside, thats overplayed; the Tories best and likely strategy now, is to completely ignore the Liberal party; I doubt they’ll even show they care who the new leader is).

    A leadership vote now, greatly favours one candidate; greatly disadvantages younger candidates, and makes it all but impossible for an outsider to come in – think of this, if a non MP won, theywill be out of Parliament for 4 years before an election; unless someone steps down right away, and giving the climate risking the seat. In 2 years the winds could have shifted back to either let that by-election go well, or at the very least only be out of Parliament for a short while. A leadership vote later will test the candidates ability to fundraise and organize and even catch the media or publics imagination. Don’t let your disdain for the current executive blind you to the possibility, this is a better option.

    As for an interim leader, if we could open it to the Senate, I’d say Grant Mitchell- if only he was bilingual, (is he?) he’d be Gord Tulk’s ideal candidate – Warren is almost too, but he’s a lefty from Alberta. I think Gord is right on a perfect leader for us, though. Grant will make a great president of the LPC though, Im sure of it. If from caucus, than I think Marc Garneau would be a great fit – both in profile, and I think he would get the party rebuilding on the right ground, without long term leadership distractions.

    Warren should run in some hitherto safe Toronto riding and win it back, absolutely, I’ll send a cheque once he decides his riding 😉

  26. dave says:

    Get out of the box…merge with the up and coming…merge with the Green Party and interim leader is May…presto, languages covered, and an interim leader from Western Canada.

  27. Jon Powers says:

    Considering that French is an irrelevant language outside of Quebec, I’d say understanding English is slightly more important, n’est-ce pas?

  28. Jehan K says:

    How about Jean Chretien? Eh? EH???

    Who else better to clean up the mess Paul Martin made?

  29. MA says:

    Stephane Dion would be a great choice. I never hold anyone at fault for having slightly less than perfect command of a 2nd language. My French is much, much worse than his English.

    Dion has a lot of passion and energy, just like Chretien.

    • Attack! says:

      yes, but again (see my above), he’s been irreparably branded as a wimp, so his crit’s will be snickered at & jeered in the HOC and torn apart by QMI & the National Post solely on character assassination grounds, no matter how valid, so it’d be a waste: he’d be totally ineffectual in the role (of being a genuine thorn in the side of the govt). Besides, the LPC should want to keep him engaged in the policy development / rebuilding side of things. The interim leader should be a good warrior, above all; which isn’t nec’ly but is usually incompatible w. being a good wonk.

      It has to / should be someone tough & unflappable: Mark Holland woulda been good; maybe Kevin Lamoureux, ‘cept he’s too new to the fed. caucus; Ralph Goodale would be ok, if he doesn’t want the ongoing leader role (or is unable to master French in time for it).

      • The Doctor says:

        Good God, Holland would have been a disaster. he is a thoroughly unpleasant man. He’s useful as an attack dog, and that’s it. That is not leadership material.

  30. JH says:

    I think Garneau’s your man. Classy rep, and now that he’s gotten some experience not easily flustered, not nasty, intelligent, perfectly bilingual and from the province where you need to bring folks back into the fold. Problem is, that also describes a good leadership candidate.

    • AmandaM says:

      Yeah, exactly. I would love to see him in the leadership race. Mostly because I want to hear more about what he thinks instead of just following the party line.

  31. Cath says:

    see even Chretien’s pulling way back from Bob Rae – HE KNOWS WHAT ONTARIO KNOWS

  32. WildGuesser says:

    Bob Rae is a poor choice. Liberals need to differentiate themselves from the NDP and Bob Rae is not the guy for that when most of the country associates him with the position of former NDP Premier of Ontario. Harper may shift a bit to the right with his majority, but is unlikely to get too far out of line, and the NDP will surely shift to the centre as they try to permanently replace the Liberals as Canada’s second party. Liberals would do well to have someone like John Manley in there, who would have a lot of centrist credibility to criticize both the CPC and NDP. Regaining support in Ontario should be the priority for Liberals, not focussing so much on Quebec.

  33. Alex says:

    Dion may look like a god when you compare his election results to Iggy’s, but don’t you remember his coalition video? The man is incompetent and uninspiring. He had difficulty holding anyone’s attention as Leader of the Opposition. Will the media and the public listen to him as an interim leader of the 3rd party?

  34. Craig Chamberlain says:

    Avoid the obscure, except when you shouldn’t.
    L Theorem.

  35. Why do I get the feeling that Bob Rae will be out of politics in less than four years?

    Somehow, I picture Bob Rae as the next Canadian ambassador to Israel.

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