Don Martin: Nobodies take over the Conservative leadership race
The nobodies are pounding on the door while the somebodies bolt for the exit in a Conservative leadership race hemorrhaging political status and credibility.
The lineup is getting messier, murkier and less moderate by the day -- and the only smiles are on Liberal faces.
Former interim leader Rona Ambrose was the best hope for a Conservative rebranding and resurgence.
It wasn’t much of a shock when she withdrew from consideration on Wednesday, but it has cost the party its best chance for a leading female voice of credibility and moderation.
That damage was compounded by former Quebec premier Jean Charest’s abandoned plan, which was partly explained as barge-poling away from a party which has lost its progressive way forward.
That will do nothing to help the Conservatives win back middle-ground voters who are already skeptical of a hidden agenda that doesn’t actually exist.
The loss of Charest was exacerbated by the only other notable Quebecer toying with a bid, charismatic MP Gerard Deltell, bowing out.
Even those with a legitimate right to be in the race are hurting more than helping the party’s government-in-waiting cause.
Probable candidate MP Pierre Poilievre’s waffle on abortion access is a case in point.
Saying he’d allow free votes on an anti-abortion bill, which would not be enacted by his government, is parroting Scheer’s electorally toxic position.
But what’s worse than serious names opting out of contention is the growing lineup of amateur-hour contenders joining the fray, threatening to turn the leadership convention into a three-ring circus.
A rookie MP has no claim on leading the Official Opposition in Parliament, but Derek Sloan says his three months (!!!) in office and some party work as a student is resume enough to rate party consideration. Friendly advice: It isn’t.
The answer to the trivia question of “Who finished 12th on the 2017 ballot?” is planning another run. Businessman Rick Peterson is reportedly nonsensically arguing he’s worthy of reconsideration because he’s got an Edmonton address. He’s not.
Of course, no Conservative leadership ballot would be complete without a crusading candidate who thinks the party is too soft on opposing abortion and gay rights.
With no chance of winning, former invisible PMO staffer Richard Décarie vows to leverage social conservative support to crown and control the next leader on social policies.
In other words, it’s Andrew Scheer’s march to victory all over again.
What a mess.
Incredibly, given the short timetable before the June 27 convention, there are still only two official entries to date.
There’s still been no public elaboration of the week-old four-word tweet from Peter MacKay to announce he’s in.
And, this hurts to say because this race desperately needs women, but personality-plus MP Marilyn Gladu doesn’t yet have the political experience, caucus backing or name recognition to lead the party out of the wilderness and back to power.
Viewing this meltdown from the Liberal perspective explains a lot about why Justin Trudeau was all-in on platitudes and deferred action plans to set up Parliament’s return next week.
Why give Conservative hopefuls a Liberal government target when the opposition wagons are circled and shooting inward?
Unless the Conservative race gels into a contest of serious contenders with credible ideas, the winner will be obvious before it starts -- the Liberal Party of Canada.