Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Run Gerard Run

I noticed this interesting piece on The Dan Report talking about the possibility of Gerard Kennedy running in Winnipeg South in the next election.

I don't think that that is or should be the riding, I do however continue to encourage Gerard to run in a riding outside of Toronto and preferably outside of Ontario.

I think that the assumption that most are making is that Gerard would probably have run in the West if he'd won the leadership, but is now more likely to play it safe and run in Toronto. I disagree with this approach.

I think it makes more sense for him to run now than it would have if he'd won the leadership. Why?

It takes a lot of effort to make a run in a riding where you do not have a natural base. A lot of people talk about how John Turner's run in Vancouver Quadra in conjunction with his having won the leadership in 1984 was a distraction and a drain on resources of the whole province and the central campaign and not worth the end result. I am moved by that argument.

But, where Gerard is not the leader, he would be able to focus full time on the riding rather than travel the country. Even if he did some auxilliary tour for Dion and the party, he would still have far more time there than he would have as leader. He would get comparable "star" profile, at least from the local and regional press, but would be able to actually focus on the battle.

So I say, Go West Young Man and Run Gerard Run!

Let's take a look at all the logical ridings for Gerard to run in moving east to west:

Egmont (PEI)

This is the riding of Jeanette Aresenault-Kennedy's family.

Pros: Safe Liberal seat held since 1980, would boost Gerard's credentials as a national candidate in giving equal weight to "East" to his "Ontario" and "West" roots in a future leadership campaign

Cons: Few real roots here and would be viewed as a parachute in a small rural riding likely to be turned off by such a candidacy, incumbent Joe McGuire who served in the Martin cabinet is probably hoping for another kick at the top job

Parkdale-High Park (ON)

This is the riding Gerard represented provincially from 1999-2006.

Pros: Instant election team and strong chance of success, no parachute stigma, likely Liberal pick up of an NDP held seat

Cons: Easy win makes Kennedy look "chicken" after talk of running in the West, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

York South-Weston (ON)

This is the riding in which Gerard lives and which he largely represented provincially from 1996-1999.

Pros: Instant election team and strong chance of success

Cons: Currently held by Alan Tonks (since 2000) who is unlikely to want to step aside, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Trinity-Spadina (ON)

This is the riding represented by NDP MP Olivia Chow, wife of leader Jack Layton

Pros:Riding borders Gerard's Parkdale-High Park, would allow Gerard to run in a seat where he could borrow much of his existing organization but also defeat a more "giant" candidate

Cons: Parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Toronto Centre (ON)

This is the riding currently held by former interim leader Bill Graham

Pros: As Graham is unlikely to run again the seat is likely to be open; potential for early entrance to the House, if he expresses an interest Graham may step aside and allow a by-election

Cons: Parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Toronto-Danforth (ON)

This is the riding currently held by NDP leader Jack Layton

Pros: If successful, the riding would give Gerard "super giant killer" status

Cons: High risk and uncertain success, would subject Gerard to high degree of NDP attacks, parachute factor, makes him a solid "Toronto" candidate should he run in the next leadership, stiffer competition for regional minister in a Dion cabinet

Winnipeg South Centre (MB)

This riding is currently held by Liberal MP Anita Neville and was formerly represented by Lloyd Axworthy

Pros: This is the riding where Gerard Kennedy lived (at St. John's-Ravenscourt School) when he was in Winnipeg, safe Liberal seat

Cons: One of two incumbent Liberal seats in Winnipeg, if Gerard were to run here he should run where he would be picking up a seat; Incumbent Anita Neville may not wish to step aside

Winnipeg South (MB)

This riding is currently held by Conservative Rod Bruinooge, one of the few (only?) Aboriginals in the Conservative House caucus and was formerly the seat of Liberal Reg Alcock

Pros: Relatively easy pickup for the Liberals; family members of Gerard, including his brother Edward live here; seat where many Manitoba Liberals have suggested Gerard should run

Cons: Gerard's roots in the riding are questionable, Reg Alcock may want to run again

Winnipeg North (ON)

This seat is currently held by NDP ethics critic Pat Martin

Pros: MP Pat Martin has been a thorn in the side of the Liberals this past session of parliament working in coordinate with the Tories to attack Liberal ethics; Martin won narrow contests in 1997, 2000 and 2004 though won easily in 2006; popular 2004 candidate David Northcott is a food bank director and supported Gerard in his leadership run

Cons: Gerard's roots in the riding are questionable, more difficult to win than the other two Winnipeg seats discussed

Churchill (MB)

This seat is currently held by Liberal MP Tina Keeper

Pros: Gerard was born and raised in this riding, Gerard's father was candidate here in 1984, Gerard was supported by the riding president and many others in the leadership race

Cons: Running here would mean displacing an incumbent Liberal Aboriginal woman; if Gerard was travelling during the campaign, this riding is a lot harder to access than other urban possibilities

Edmonton Centre (AB)

This seat was held by Anne McLellan from 1993 to 2006.

Pros: Seat that has been "reliably Liberal" (by Alberta standards) in recent history, location of the Edmonton Food Bank Gerard once ran, Laurie Hawn has turned out to be a weak MP

Cons: It is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-Strathcona (AB)

This seat is currently held by Conservative caucus chair Rahim Jaffer

Pros: Home of Gerard's alma mater the University of Alberta; Liberals traditionally run strong here, though the Liberals have not won the seat since 1968, they usually finish close - Reform beat the Liberals by only 400 votes in 1993, 3000 in 1997, 5500 in 2000, 5000 in 2004 - in all those cases the NDP vote was greater than the difference between the Liberals and Tories and Gerard has a record of stealing NDP votes

Cons: NDP does run strong here, finishing second in 2006, and could act as a spoiler to an otherwise strong Kennedy campaign; it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton East (AB)

Currently held by Conservative backbencher Peter Goldring

Pros: Seat has strong left-wing past, it went NDP in 1988, Liberal in 1993 and only went Reform by 3000 in 1997 and 2000; Goldring may retire; past candidate Nicole Martel was a strong and early supporter of Gerard's candidacy

Cons: It may be to Gerard's advantage to have Martel run here so they could run cooperative candidacies adjacent to each other; it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-St. Albert (AB)

Currently held by long-time Conservative MP John Williams

Pros: Williams is not seeking re-election, seat has some left-wing potential having been lost by the NDP by only 100 votes in a 1986 by-election

Cons: Seat has never gone Liberal, Williams won in 2004 and 2006 by margins of around 20,000 votes, it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Edmonton-Sherwood Park (AB)

Currenlty held by long-time Conservative MP Ken Epp

Pros: Epp is not seeking re-election

Cons: Seat has never gone Liberal, Epp won by a margin of around 27,000 votes in 2006, it is always difficult to elect a Liberal in Alberta and Gerard would be succeptible to attacks of being a Toronto candidate

Vancouver Kingsway (BC)

Pros: Only unheld, winnable seat in Vancouver; Anger over Emerson affair should strongly motivate Liberal activists

Cons: Gerard has no roots in Vancouver, NDP will be running strong here and some disaffected Liberals (over Emerson) may vote NDP rather than support the Liberals

That is an impressive 16 ridings across Canada in which Gerard could realistically run. That is about as many seats as I suspect the NDP, at best, will win in the next election. Kind of funny.

Here are my top five picks, in order of preference:

1.) Edmonton Centre

As above, I am a strong proponent of Gerard running in the West. It is good for the party, as it stands right now, it looks like the only strong minister in a Dion cabinet would be Ralph Goodale and there is some chatter that he may not even run again. Gerard said in his leadership speech that we should no cede 80 seats west of Kenora to the Tories and I agree, he should honour that by running in the West.

In terms of any future leadership aspirations, running in the West would make him a "real" Western candidate, while running in Toronto and serving in Parliament from there would discredit any chance he would have as being the Western candidate, especially when up-and-comers such as Blair Wilson could run and claim that mettle.

Of the Western seats, Edmonton Centre is the best. There is a strong Liberal organization on the ground which has won four of the last five elections. This is the riding where, I assume, Gerard lived at least during part of his years in Edmonton. This is my pick.

2.) Edmonton-Strathcona

This riding is a close second choice. The past shows a relatively strong Liberal organizatione exists here, though it seemed to melt down in 2006. The University of Alberta is here and Gerard seems to have a strong ability to appeal to youth. Gerard likely lived in this riding during part, most or even all of his time in Edmonton as he was a student at the U of A for 3 of his years here.

3.) Parkdale-High Park

If Gerard is not going to run in either of the above Edmonton ridings, then I think he would be running either too high of a risk of a) losing, b) getting really bad parachute press or c) both. Therefore, if he is not going to run there, he may has well run in the seat he has represented for the past 7 years and take a seat away from the NDP.

4.) Toronto Centre

If the leader has a desire for Gerard to enter Parliament soon and Bill Graham is willing, I would be all for Gerard running in an early by-election here. If he were to do that, then he should probably run here in the general election as well rather than alienate and anger the voters.

5.) Churchill

I would be a strong proponent of Gerard running here if it were not for the bad optics of displacing a well known, Aboriginal, female, Liberal MP. It would be bad. However, if Tina Keeper, who is actually from Winnipeg and not Northern Manitoba, was compelled or interested in running in a Winnipeg seat instead, then I would be quite keen on seeing Gerard running in this riding.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Linda Duncan, the NDP candidate who came in second in Edmonton-Strathcona last time and completely obliterated the Liberal candidate there, is running again. In light of that, Gerard would be just plain crazy to run there. Better to run in Edmonton-Centre or Edmonton-East (preferably Edmonton-Centre, which DEFINITELY CAN go Liberal this time if we work for it hard enough). It really would be so great to see him run in Edmonton, though... I hope he listens to you.

-Edmontonian and Kennedy fan

nbpolitico said...

Thanks for that info anon - definitely Edmonton Centre is the better choice.

Let's hope he does listen.

nbpolitico said...

Another interesting option I didn't think of would be Peterborough.

Traditionally Liberal, currently held by the Tories. Was represented from 1993-2006 by Peter Adams, who retired and was not defeated, and who was a strong supporter of Gerard's leadership campaign.

Gerard went to Trent U in this riding for his first year of university.

Mark Greenan said...

In Egmont, Joe McGuire's done like dinner. Was interested in retiring last time, but PMPM asked all Liberals in safe seats to stay on for the 2006 election, and Joe's nothing if not a good soldier.

However, as one of Iggy's first supporters, Joe knows his chances of getting back into cabinet are even less than the Libs' chances to get back into power.

And for the U of A to be GKs alma mater he would have had to graduated, no?

Anonymous said...

I posted this on the original Dan Report entry, too -
My vote is for him to run in Trinity-Spadina: it takes a chunk out of the NDP, takes an indirect hit on Layton, with solid organization (given the proximity to Parkdale) he could post a HUGE win, making him virtually the second coming of [insert deity of choice here].

Fred said...

Agree with the above comments about Strathcona. The Liberal vote has been slipping there for four or five elections - Kennedy could reverse the trend, but it's a reciepie for vote splitting.