Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Best PM we never had...

For those of you who haven't seen it, The Calgary Grit is running a cool contest to determine the "Greatest Prime Minister We Never Had".

He started off with a group of 80 suggestions with free-for-all voting. He's narrowed it down to 16 based on that first round and seeded them according to how they placed. It has resulted in some really, really hard choices in terms of match ups. In half of the matchups, I really am having a hard time making a call.

You can vote once a day in each round through next Tuesday. In some cases I may split my votes I am so torn.

Here are my hard races...

George-Etienne Cartier vs. Bill Davis

Cartier was co-premier of the Canadas with Sir John and went on to serve in the cabinet before dying an early death. Would have almost surely been PM if he'd outlived Sir John.

Davis was a real PROGRESSIVE conservative who led Ontario for almost a decade and a half and probably could have been Prime Minister if he had run for federal Tory leader in 1983 (I think he would have been the ideal compromise candidate between Clark and Mulroney).

Today I voted Cartier. Not sure about tomorrow.

Louise Arbour vs. Tommy Douglas

Arbour was briefly and perhaps unsubtantively rumoured to be a Liberal leadership candidate for this go around. She is an academic with a keen political sense from her time on the Supreme Court, at the World Court and at the United Nations. She would have brought an interesting international stature and network with her to the PMO and presumably has a wide understanding of domestic policy from her time on the bench in Ontario and at the SCC.

Tommy Douglas is apparently the Greatest Canadian so logically he must also be the greatest PM right? I am a bit of skeptic when it comes to Douglas. He was a good premier and a good opposition party leader. I don't think it is fair to credit him as the father of medicare. It took Pearson's government to make it a national program and I do not buy the argument that Douglas made him do it. Moreover, Douglas was premier for 17 years before he bothered to bring in public medicine, it obviously was not a huge priority for him. He had actually left office before it even took effect.

Though at first sight this looks hard, I will consistently vote Arbour.

Frank McKenna (PDF) vs. Lloyd Axworthy


Frank McKenna is awesome. Period. In case you didn't notice, I am from New Brunswick. Frank McKenna was an amazing premier and superstar. Full stop. He would have been an excellent prime minister and it is a real sin that he did not run in this leadership. I am involved and keen on politics because of the New Brunswick I was shaped in under Frank's tremendous leadership.

But I am also a big Axworthy fan. He was a great parliamentarian for 20 years and managed to do a left-wing foreign policy without alienating our American friends. I have to vote for Frank but it hurts me to not be able to vote for Lloyd who, with Frank, was the only guy I voted for every day in the Round of 80.

As mentioned my ballot goes to McKenna everyday but it is without the joy that it should be.

Stephen Lewis vs. Roy Romanow

A good matchup of two lefties. Lewis is pretty far left while Romanow is a true moderate on the FAR right of NDP politics. Lewis has tremendous foreign policy experience, was a good UN ambassador and has done a good job on the HIV/AIDS thing.

The first instinct here would be to go with Romanow but, frankly I was underwhelmed by his royal commission report and his government in Saskatchewan can't have been too great because he took the unbeatable party of Tommy Douglas and won the first minority government (that I know of) in Saskatchewan history in 1999. On the other hand he did play a key role in the kitchen cabinet negotiations which resulted in the patriation of the constitution in 1982.

I voted Lewis today but am torn as to how to vote going forward.

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