Right now there are three different Conservative leadership races going on, one which I will vote in and two which I am not eligible for. Below are my thoughts on each of these.
Alberta UCP leadership race
Yesterday was deadline and today is verification whether those registered met requirements or not. For sure three have made it and another five may or may not qualify. I would say Rebecca Schulz seems like best choice if she qualifies as largely stayed out of trouble, is from Calgary, is an older millennial female and fairly moderate. Also fact she has backing of heavy hitters such as Brad Wall and Rona Ambrose is helpful too. Leela Aheer and Rajan Sawahy sound reasonable but neither has any realistic chance of going anywhere. Todd Loewen is a right wing nut so probably doesn’t win, but does much better than expected as party full of people like him. Looking at the three who will make it, below are my thoughts.
Brian Jean: He is reasonably likeable unlike Kenney and that matters a lot in politics. But is quite gaffe prone which could be fatal in a general election and represents more the rural right wing of party. So while would probably lose to Notley, he is a better choice than Danielle Smith in my view.
Danielle Smith: She is an absolute nutcase thus why will likely become premier next October and likewise likely lose to Notley next year. Her Alberta sovereignty act is a waste of time and has no legal impact. Also pushing conspiracy theories and not offering realistic solutions to deal with problems Albertans are facing is not what province needs now.
Travis Toews: Of three guaranteed, he is probably best choice. Has most caucus endorsements but not sure how popular with grassroots. He largely stayed out of trouble which helps, but being finance minister under Kenney probably a liability still. Of the three mentioned, he would be my pick if Rebecca Schulz fails to qualify. However, I still believe in a general election, Notley would be favoured against him but he would have better odds than Smith would.
I think real problem UCP has is it appeals to the right wing base in Rural Alberta which is strong and loud, but very much a minority. Alberta may be more conservative than most Canadian provinces, but that isn’t saying much as Canada is a fairly progressive country. Province still is not overly right wing. To win you need to win in at least one of the two cities and being too ideological will ensure Notley dominates both. Many in UCP leadership race don’t get modern Alberta. PCs won in past as were a pragmatic big tent party. Also province has moved left as it has a young population and gets many from elsewhere in Canada. While Trudeau not popular in Alberta, I don’t believe most Albertans are as anti-Ottawa as UCP base is. As per earlier post, I continue to stand by my prediction that Notley will win next year. Many on twitter have argued I don’t know what I am talking about, but I think next year will show the province is not your red state of the north but rather Alberta values largely align with rest of Canada and only slightly more conservative not radically more. And for those suggesting Canada seeing a big shift right, see post below. It is not happening even if Conservative base thinks it is.
Canadian Conservative leadership race
Now that it has been whittled down to five, I have decided I will put Jean Charest as my first choice and Scott Aitchison as second. I do not plan to rank the remainder. Below are my thoughts on each
Scott Aitchison: He will be my second choice. At first thought just a candidate trying to make a name for himself, but very impressed with his thoughtfulness and providing solutions to problems we are facing. Polarization is not helping our country and we need someone who will help turn the temperature down, not pour more gasoline on it. If his French were a bit better, he would be my first choice and thus while it was a tough choice between him and Charest; Charest’s better French is reason I will be ranking him higher. Still I think he has a bright future in party and hope whenever they do return to government, he is a cabinet minister.
Roman Baber: He seems to be a one man pony trick on opposing lockdowns which were mostly provincial anyways. Also much like Poilievre, way too libertarian for my liking. He is not going to win, but likely his second choices help Poilievre.
Jean Charest: He is my first choice. While chances of him being next leader are close to zero, I plan to stay on and vote for him as this is not just about choosing next leader of party, but also about expressing my opinion on what direction party should move in. Charest has lots of experience and yes has made his share of mistakes but if you read his policies, he has lots of good ideas. I want a leader who looks for solutions to problems we are facing, not just strokes up anger. For those saying he is liberal lite, please. World is not black and white and idea if you are not ideologically pure you are a Trudeau Liberal is silly and we need to move away from polarization, which is not healthy. Reason I am putting him ahead of Aitchison is he is fully bilingual which is essential but also party needs to win a majority to fix things and very tough to do without doing well in Quebec.
Leslyn Lewis: She is a hardcore social conservative and cannot speak French so both of those immediately disqualify her for me. She won’t win, but probably does better than expected and may even come in second scarily enough.
Pierre Poilievre: He is going to be the next leader unfortunately and I believe that is a big mistake. Many Canadians are dissatisfied with Trudeau, but most don’t hate him with a passion like base does and take a more nuanced view. Most want solutions, not rhetoric. Also we have seen right wing populism and damage it has caused in US and most Canadians including myself rightly don’t want to see it moving northward. He may not be a Trump of the north, but he is our version of tea party a decade ago. I agree government is too big overall, but smashing it to pieces and railing about more freedom (we are already a very free country) is not the solution. Libertarianism like socialism is an ideology and is not based on the real world which is a complex place and requires thoughtful solutions that don’t neatly fit into one ideology. I have watched enough elections to know Liberals will have a field day with attack ads with him. And for those assuming people are so mad at Trudeau it won’t matter, I disagree. Canadians just have to look south of the border and most will decide whatever issues we have here, cure is worse than the disease with Poilievre. But even if he could win, which I don’t think he can, I believe he would be wrong person for Canada. Maybe he will surprise me like Doug Ford did, but I am skeptical. For me it’s not just policies, but rather rhetoric. Politicians should never pander to the worst elements of society like Poilievre did with so called freedom convoy. Democracy means listening to people’s concerns but only if based on facts, not if based on conspiracies and falsehoods. Solution there is to tell such people the truth not play up their falsehoods. We have enough issues as now and we need to reduce polarization not make it worse and I worry if Poilievre becomes PM, our country may become so divided that we are no longer able to co-exist. And as a Canadian first ahead of any ideology, that is very worrisome. Past leaders of all parties had enough class to not appeal to demagoguery even if tempting. Finally, I don’t feel I would be welcome in a Poilievre led party. Some say days of middle of road voters is over and now most are firmly in one camp or another. I don’t believe that is true, but even if is, that is something we need to correct, not further cement. Twitter may be very tribal politically, but most Canadians who don’t live and breathe politics aren’t that way and that is who decides elections, not your rabid fan base.
Barring some miracle, I expect Poilievre will become the next leader and very skeptical he will pivot but would be pleasantly surprised if does. If he wins, I plan to rip up my membership card. As for how I will vote next election, if he is leader, I honestly do not know. I cannot vote for a Liberal party led by Trudeau and would have tough time voting for one led by Freeland. Maybe could vote for one led by Carney, Anand, or Champagne but not sure. I fear I may end up having to spoil my ballot (staying home and not voting is not an option for me as I feel I owe it to my late Great-Grandfather and Grandfather who fought in WWI and WWII for our freedoms) which I really hope is not case. Either way, I have found a lot of the Poilievre crowd to be nasty, bitter, and ideological and quite frankly want nothing to do with them. I don’t get how telling people to leave party if not right wing enough is a vote winner. PPC only got 5% and mostly in safe ridings they won anyways. And of non-voters most are apathetic and those that are not more likely to lean left than right. A lot of Poilievre supporters just seem bitter and angry. I think government has job to help people where struggling so they can have a better life, but if bitter due to lies and conspiracies on internet, I am not interested in associating with such. Trudeau is not a dictator nor a Communist. I don’t like him, but attack him on things he has really done not falsehoods.
UK Conservative leadership race
UK leadership race has now been whittled down to two candidates. Next PM will either be a woman or non-white. Fact Conservative leadership race was so diverse shows Cameron’s efforts to broaden party’s appeal has paid off. While Sunak was early favourite, I think Truss has a very good chance. I do think though Sunak would fare better in a general election than Truss would. Below are my thoughts on each.
Rishni Sunak: He is experienced and his platform probably most realistic. He is for tax cuts but only when is financially feasible not before. Tax cuts rarely pay for themselves so while they are good, it is best to do once it is financially feasible not before. He does have his baggage but on whole has decent approval rating compared to others. No doubt next few years will be very tough so having someone with strong experience on economic matters is helpful. I do think though his big spending and tax hikes probably hurt his chances.
Liz Truss: Strong foreign secretary and handled war of Ukraine well, but her position on tax cuts is pie in the sky. Tax cuts won’t magically make economy grow. Yes it will help but won’t without spending cuts pay for themselves. Now don’t get me wrong, lower taxes are a good idea, but I think the Martin/Chretien way in 90s where get finances in order first, then cut taxes after is best way to go. Her promises would leave an £18 billion hole and fixing that won’t be easy. Also, on personality doesn’t seem overly popular with general electorate.
If polls are to believed, Tories have a big climb. Labour has solid lead and looks like a question of whether a majority or hung parliament with Labour being largest party. But as we know, polls can change so I don’t think Tories are totally out of it for next election. Still Starmer is not as radical nor as scary as Corbyn was. He is dull and boring so won’t excite people, but unless Tories improve their standing, he is favoured to be next PM. I think Sunak has better odds than Truss but both could win a general election if timing is right. Tories still lead amongst older voters who are more likely to show up so while Labour has about a 10 point lead, I suspect if an election were held today would only win by 6-8 points. Nevertheless while a uniform swing would show it being a hung parliament, I suspect you will see lots of tactical voting so may be enough for a majority. One thing Tories do have in their favour now is no more fixed election dates. That means next leader could go early and easily make argument needs a new mandate. Most leaders get a honeymoon so wouldn’t be surprised if Tories retake lead in Fall for at least a short period. Likewise, could wait until January of 2025 so possible by then inflation has come down, economy recovering and get credit for it. I think 2023 and early 2024 will be worst time for party to go as higher inflation and interest rate hikes likely lead to a recession which is never good for the governing party. So fact no longer have fixed election date is probably a blessing in disguise for party but still will face tough challenge no matter when called.