Roundup: Exit O’Leary

So the big news, in case you missed it, was that Kevin O’Leary dropped out of the Conservative leadership race hours before the final debate, and endorsed Maxime Bernier (never mind that Berier just weeks ago referred to him as a “loser”). And that they came to a late-night agreement, but O’Leary’s team still sent out fundraising pleas the next morning, hours before the announcement. Oh, and the ballots have already been mailed out with O’Leary’s name on them (and any votes he gets will just fall off and second choices will be counted instead, given that this is a ranked ballot). O’Leary cites winnability, and the fact that he can’t win Quebec (just like everyone has been saying the whole time), so that’s why he’s going to Bernier (who, incidentally, may also not be able to win more than his particular corner of Quebec given his ideological hostility to much of what they seem to hold dear).

In the wake of the departure, here is some reaction from O’Leary’s campaign manager, Michael Chong, CBC’s poll analyst Éric Grenier, and Paul Wells delivers a signature thumping that you really need to read.

As for that debate, or “debate” as it should more properly be known (as with any of them held in this leadership contest), it was a weird mix of pointed attacks on perceived rivals, along with sucking up to others to try and win second-place support on those ranked ballots, because they very well know that it could be their path to victory. Some of the pointed attacks were expected – toward Kellie Leitch for fostering the image that the party is intolerant to the immigrants in suburban ridings that they rely on for electoral victory, and toward perceived front-runner Maxime Bernier. The one that was most surprising – and galling, to be frank – was Erin O’Toole going after Andrew Scheer because he became Speaker in 2011 and was apparently too busy “hosting functions at Kingsmere” than being “in the trenches” with the rest of the party (never mind that O’Toole wasn’t even an MP yet at the time).

The one thing that did irritate me the most, however, was the continued fetishism of private sector experience as somehow being a qualifier for political leadership, never mind that there is zero crossover between the two. With O’Leary now gone from the race, you had this mad scramble to try and claim this particular tin crown, and it was pretty sad. Rick Peterson was loudest – having never stood for office before – while Andrew Saxton, O’Toole and Bernier all tried to pile onto claiming their own experience. Government and business do not operate the same way. You cannot run a government like a business because there is no “bottom line.” Trying to claim some kind of credit for “making payroll” is meaningless noise in politics. The sooner you realise this, the sooner you can have a proper debate about issues.

Good reads:

  • Chrystia Freeland vows to be “tough and strong” with the US on softwood lumber. One would hope.
  • A former US trade representative says that a softwood deal was almost reached but Canadian officials felt they could get a better deal with Trump. Sounds dubious.
  • Trump is also allegedly drafting an executive order to pull out of NAFTA, but this is also quite likely to be “Art of the Deal” chest thumping.
  • Documents released show that VADM Mark Norman allegedly leaked supply ship refit details in order to pressure the government to go with his preferred outcome.
  • Liberal MPs got a closed-door seminar on harassment issues during their weekend caucus meeting a few weeks ago.
  • Parliamentarians are getting a modest raise. Cue the cheap outrage!
  • Expect amendments to the marijuana bill in both the Commons and Senate (which should have been completely obvious).
  • In advance of the debate, Michael Chong was agitating for adult discussions within the party.
  • If you’re looking for responses to a certain clown show in the Washington Post that I won’t name, here is David Moscrop and Drew Brown.
  • Kady O’Malley wonders if the Liberals are ready to start reconsidering their House management tactics.
  • Andrew Coyne preaches calm and carrying on doing the right things in the face of the unstable Trumpocalypse.

Odds and ends:

Senator Brazeau has been acquitted of his 2014 drunk driving charges.

Tristin Hopper explains why our tax system is so hideously byzantine.