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Saturday, March 25, 2006

Dryden as Frontrunner?

The unconventional nature of this Liberal leadership race makes handicapping it exceedingly difficult. Cherniak has recently vented about the media's coverage of the contenders, rightfully pointing out the inexplicable omission of one of his preferred candidates - Ken Dryden. This is all the more glaring because, as Adam Radwanksi points out in his recap of the King Edward event:
The more I look at all these guys, the more I have a sneaking suspicion Ken Dryden could easily emerge as the consensus choice at the convention. I’m not saying that’d be a good thing. Just that, as McGuinty proved a decade (!) ago, inoffensiveness is a huge asset when you get to the third or fourth ballot.
Beyond inoffensiveness, Dryden has a lot going for him from a not-too-hot/not-too-cold. Consider:

National political experience? Not so much as to have an extensive record, but some Cabinet experience and on an issue (Daycare) that will dominate Parliament in the months to come.

Liberal credentials? Not around long enough to be involved in the Chretien v. Martin feuding, but no doubts as to his bona fide credentials as a party member (not to mention being on record with a compelling vision of liberalism)

French language ability? Not fluently bilingual, but able to communicate (and instant credibility as a hero of Montreal hockey fans).

The main knock against him thus far is that he is boring/bland, not one to set the Thames on fire. Yet that is likely an easier hurdle to overcome than the insta-criticism that plagues the other main contenders who have one of those apparent weaknesses.

As everyone's potential second choice, Dryden will likely position himself in later ballots as the safer of the relative option, given that the other wannabe candidates all seem to be asking the party to take some measure of risk. For a party looking to emerge united from the convention, the argument will no doubt prove appealing.

Is it enough to make Dryden the frontrunner, albeit in the counter-intuitive sense that he may never lead until the final ballot? Makes sense to me.

8 Comments:

Blogger Barrelman said...

Just how charismatic is Harper?

8:18 PM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

I agreed with Truffles when he said that Dryden as everybody's second choice is a formidable candidate.

Re what Ford just said -- I think that (though I'm prejudiced) Harper is showing that he has a lot more charisma than people had thought.

But who knows, maybe Ken Dryden has it in him to inspire, too. We'll see how he is on the campaign trail, if he runs.

12:01 AM  
Blogger Barrelman said...

Ben:

Even if you're right, he didn't need charisma to get elected, did he?

I will tell you all this: Ken gave us Young Liberals a speech when he was in Halifax that really touched me. Give him a chance before you make up your mind.

12:33 AM  
Blogger James MacDuff said...

Fair enough, DF - although Harper's lack of charisma probably helped in the last campaign, where he needed only to put himself forward as a non-risky alternative to the widespread perception of still more Liberal arrogance and corruption. There is a different electoral calculus involved in defeating the new PM.

I certainly will give Dryden a chance. Right now, I'm open to hearing from and considering the likes of Dion, Ignatieff, Rae, Kennedy, and Dryden. Maybe more depending on whether there are further surprise entries (Arbour).

Dryden has been cruising under the radar, that's all. Whether it is part of a strategy or more indicative of his persona (or both) is worth considering.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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SPION
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3:30 PM  
Blogger Ogilvie said...

Dryden? The man who said if a mom or dad didn't send their children to institutionalized day care it was like treating them at home rather than sending them to the doctor's? Oh,yes, he would be a great leader for Canada, wouldn't he? Is that what you mean when you say he has a "compelling vision of liberaliam"?, with the emphasis on "compelling." Sounds more like something you'd hear in the former Soviet Union, or the present-day China. He is a statist san pareil. Lord help Canada if he ever becomes prime minister. What would his slogan be: "I'll do for Canada what I did for the Toronto Maple Leafs" ?

4:10 PM  
Blogger The Tiger said...

Well, the Liberals are a statist party. That's just how it is.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Liam O'Brien said...

I think the Liberals could do a lot worse than elect Dryden as their leader. As for the nanny-state statements that came from his mouth, Dryden was simply giving the honest Liberal lines on how they view the child care issue in Canada. Paul Martin couldn't bring himself to be that honest even as John Duffy and Scott Reid gave us the DL on how little Liberals trust parents to spend child care funding on child care.

There are some honest, not dumb, but flawed Liberals like Ignatieff, Dryden, and Dion out there who will let Canadians see capital L Liberalism as it is for the first time in years. Then there are the dishonest candidates (Brison and Stronach to name two) who will need to serve up the 4th offering of re-heated fearmonger re Stephen Harper in order to keep any great number Canadians dustracted enough to vote for their option.

Yes, I'm certain Dryden and Dion and Ignatieff will all selectively use fear also. The diference is that when the fear campaign gets old about 1 week into the campaign, they might actually be able to angage Harper with a different view of how the country is to be run.

We'll talk another day about whether they could win the day or the argument if it actually came down to a debate on policy differences. The last time the Liberal party won an election based on the strength of their economic/bread-and-butter policies, it was 1980. They then proceeded to selectively ignore them and show that they didn't know what they were talking about -- in between a forced constitutional racket . . .

8:47 AM  

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