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Desperately Seeking Party Leaders

Web posted on May 12, 2016

A Curmudgeon's View

By Les Enekes

As somewhat of a political junkie I follow all of our political parties and what they do. When a convention comes along, I will watch it. It does not matter where they are on the political spectrum, I will switch from curmudgeon to political junkie. As I said before the last election every party has at least one thing in their platform and philosophy I like, and some things I can't live with. I will always pick a leadership candidate that I think would be the best leader of their party, and for the most part I seem to pick the wrong one. None of the leaders in the past election were my choice when they became leaders of their respective parties.

After every election the defeated parties do a lot of soul searching about the status of their leader. When the party in power is defeated, the leader traditionally steps down, and everyone pretends he (or she) never existed. After the passage of sufficient time, they will be thought of as great leaders. All parties go through a leadership review process at regular intervals.

Recently the NDP voted to replace Tom Mulcair as their leader. I was not expecting this. He certainly does not have the charisma of his predecessor, on the other hand he sure knows how to put the government (both current and past) on the hot seat in the House of Commons. There will be a leadership convention sometime within the next two years.

It would seem that the decision to go after the middle ground did not go over well with the membership. This was unfamiliar territory for the NDP. For a while, I thought that they would have to rebrand themselves as the Democratic Party of Canada. When the current government did their dramatic shift to the left during the election campaign, I half expected them to call themselves the New Liberal Party. That does have an interesting ring to it. There is a temptation to refer to them as the NLP. It did make for an interesting shell game and confused a lot of the electorate.

Now that we have the NDP drifting back to the left (the Bernie Sanders effect?) it leaves the other two major parties to get back to where they should be on the political spectrum. We are in desperate need of a strong party of the centre.

Unfortunately the so called Leap Manifesto, (methinks they are leaping in the wrong direction) if adopted could cause problems. Some of it seems too radical even for the Greens. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I see the potential shift in the NDP philosophy hurting them badly out west in the oil patch, and could cause more harm than good. I wonder if this made any difference in the recent Manitoba election, or was it just the need for change?

They need to do what they do best: be our collective conscience and stop trying be everything. We need the NDP of Ed Broadbent. Without a very strong and charismatic new leader, they will be in trouble. Right now I don't see anyone out there as a potential leader. Yes, mistakes were made. The length of the campaign made sure that mistakes would be made by all concerned including the ones who made that decision. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

We also have the Conservatives in their quest for a new leader. This could get rather interesting and potentially somewhat dirty. There seems to be no shortage of potential candidates out there. So far, I have not been impressed by the two declared candidates. I have already made up my mind about who should be the next leader, and I will let you know next May after their leadership convention just how wrong I was. It's not who you think it is, and I don`t even know if this individual is planning to run. They also need to get a little closer to their PC roots, and step back a bit (some might say a lot) from the Reform/Alliance side. Something kinder and gentler would be nice. I will also be following this race with great interest.

I am not a big fan of these long leadership campaigns. Get it done as quickly as possible so that the voters can get to know the new leaders before the next election. The longer they are around the more material they give me to work with.

The Greens will also have to clean up their act and get a credible leader before the next election. They are certainly more in need of a new leader than any of the other parties. I really believe that the leader of the Green Party of Ontario could get a lot more votes.

That leaves the potential candidates for the leadership of the Liberals plenty of time to get ready.... maybe.

I am sure that there will be the usual soap operas leading up to the leadership conventions and I will do revisits as needed.

Meanwhile, down south it would seem that Hillary and Donald will be the nominees, the nice, clean, friendly, family disagreements are almost over. Now it gets dirty.

I do want to mention the Special Olympics coming up. On Wednesday May 18 the public and separate boards are having their 15th Special Olympic Track and Field Games at St. James Sports Fields on Grange Road. Opening Ceremonies are at 10. The rain date is the 19th. As always, in the spirit of full disclosure, I was a volunteer for the local track and field games for several years, before passing the torch, so to speak.

The Provincial Spring Games are being held at the University of Guelph, May 26-28. If you get a chance please support the athletes.

Les Enekes can be reached directly by owl. For those not owl equipped, he can be reached at

The views of columnists in The Fountain Pen do not necessarily represent the views of the principals of the publication.

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