What kind of wine would he be?
He would be a red, obviously. An understated red. A light merlot from Napa Valley with hints of unconventionality and a slight medicinal flavour. An instantly forgettable beverage that you might buy in a family restaurant, and think "it's alright I guess". But, if you swirl the wine around in your glass, take a good sniff and let the liquid linger in your mouth, you detect a hint of stubborn bitterness and the slight unpleasantness of a budget wine trying to be something it's not.
On occasions when I talk about Jon Gerrard, I usually feel the need to start by saying "Jon's a nice guy, but..." because I never seem to have anything positive to say about him, even though I really do not dislike the guy. It's just that he's been ineffectual as a leader. He sucks at his job.
Case in point: in the televised debate last fall, Greg Selinger had the opportunity to finish up the evening by posing one question to the opponent of his choice. Did he direct his question to his primary rival, Hugh McFadyen? No. He picked on the mostly irrelevant Gerrard because he knew that Gerrard would flail like a wounded pigeon and allow Greg to score an indirect hit on Hugh without Hugh having an opportunity to respond.
In case you forgot what the question was, Greg asked Jon if he made a mistake in supporting the PC's bill to cut hundreds of doctors and nurses and plunge Manitoba health care into the Pleistocene era where we use sharpened rocks to perform surgery. Jon's response?
Gee. Gosh. Since you put it that way, I guess you're right! Gosh! How could I have been so stupid? Stoopid stoopid stoopid (banging head against podium).That's a paraphrase only. I don't have the exact text of the debate in front of me so there might be some minor inaccuracies. In any case, you get the idea. A real leader would have said something like:
Mr.Selinger, as you well know the bill was not to cut nurses and doctors but to make some necessary decisions to control spending. The Manitoba government has over-spent its budget each of the last 11 years, we are running record deficits, our debt is skyrocketing, and our increasing reliance on transfer payments is threatening our ability to ensure quality health care and social services in the long term. A leader needs to be prepared to make difficult decisions, and one of those decisions is being responsible with the tax dollars that Manitobans sacrifice each year. If you're not prepared to make those difficult decisions Mr.Selinger, then Manitobans deserve a better Premier.I got my own taste of Gerrard's stubborness last year at the Beers and Bipole debate organized by the Canadian Taxpayer Federation last summer. I suggested that it might be better to present a united front against the NDP's disasterous policy rather than muddying the issue with a third unrealistic option, but Gerard wouldn't budge. His way was the right way, and compromise was not even to be considered.
His stubborness could be the downfall of the Liberal Party in Manitoba. Jon has said he will step down in 2013, but he has also recently mused about running again in the only safe Liberal seat next election. "There may be an advantage to having somebody who has got some legislative experience serving behind a new leader in the next parliament" he says. That's bad news if you're a Liberal. As Steve Lambert wisely points out, hanging on to the River Heights seat could make it difficult to attract a quality leader because the prospect of getting elected and getting that MLA salary is diminished. Jon would quite likely remain the only Liberal in the Leg (if he even manages to get re-elected .. he hardly won by a landslide last time) and would therefore remain the dominant face of the Liberal party, even if he's not the leader.
Big changes are needed if the Libs are to reverse course and back away from the abyss. Members are revolting, Liberal bloggers are plotting new political parties and using the word "poop" a lot. This is a bad sign. Jon not only needs to step down as leader, he needs to leave the party completely. Get the hell out of there so they can turn the page and attempt to rebuild. If he sticks around then the Liberal Party is as good as dead.
Have you ever left an opened bottle of red wine on a window sill for 6 months by accident? Oh look, it's that bottle of Jon Gerrard from the Hallowe'en party. I wonder what it tastes like?