This fall, the Manitoba Liberal Party will start the process of choosing a new leader to replace the outgoing Dr. Jon Gerrard. One man, the little-known Robert Young, has so far announced an intention to run. I don't know much about Mr. Young, but given his lack of political experience and journey-man career, I don't get a good vibe from this.
What the Liberal Party needs is a man who is ready to jump into the position already familiar with the political game, but with fresh ideas. I think I have just the person:
It's not so crazy. Trust me.
Okay... it's crazy, but read on anyhow:
With James you have a guy who has experience with the operational aspects of leading a political party. You have a guy who is well-spoken and reasonably charismatic. He is clean-cut and wholesome in appearance, yet has hair that dangles down in front of his face that tells younger voters that this is a different kind of politics -- a kind that they can potentially relate to. More importantly, he has fresh ideas. His Green Party platform in the last election was not radical or unreasonable, rather it was principled and grounded in logic for the most part.
What James doesn't have is a way of bringing these ideas to the floor of the legislature. It could take decades for the Green Party to build a base in Manitoba large enough to grabs seats from the NDP. The Liberal Party on the other hand has a significant, though dwindling, chunk of the vote. Every election there are certain people who always vote Liberal because they have always been Liberal, or because it's viewed as the moderate choice.
From the Liberal Party point of view, a resurgence is desperately needed. The inertia that they've been coasting on since the Sharon Carstairs days has been eroding under the coma-inducing leadership of Gerrard, and has not been helped by the implosion of the parent party in Ottawa. A 50 year old business consultant who once wrote a Christian novel is probably not the spark plug that they need to fire up the engine again.
This is where James comes in. He has some youth appeal that could help revitalize the party, but has already earned the respect of other politicians. I know that Hugh McFadyen respected James as a peer and as a political opponent, for example.
But what about the Green Party? Am I asking that he abandon his Green roots? No.
But surely the Green Party has a clause in their constitution that prevents their leader from running for another party. Therefore this will require a bit of a gamble on Beddome's part. He will have to resign the leadership of the Greens to run for the Liberals. If he wins the leadership of the Liberal Party he can begin negotiations with the Green Party to amalgamate the two. The Green Party will be willing because they know James and they know what he stands for. As the freshly elected leader of the Liberal Party he would have the leverage to pull the party into the negotiations.
And then the master plan is complete! A young, stronger Liberal party with the combined strength of the Libs and the Greens, and a new platform of distinct and practical ideas that will stand out from the stale and predictable drivel presented by the NDP and the PCs.
It could work.
A new face, Ajay Chopra, plans to jump in the race ... just as soon as he returns to Manitoba from Toronto where he was working as a lobbyist. Ajay's outlook is better that Robert Young's in my opinion, because he is younger and somewhat familiar with the political machine, but this is not a big enough development to derail the above plan.