Okay, I have to admit I?ve felt a few cringes of sympathy in recent days for my traditional political rivals in the Liberal Party of Canada. Can it get any worse for the Liberals?
First, all of their most promising leadership contenders, wisely assessing the near-bankrupt and politically aimless state of the Liberal Party of Canada, took themselves out of the race before it even began. Former U.S. Ambassador Frank McKenna, former high-profile Liberal cabinet ministers, John Manley and Allan Rock, as well as former Newfoundland Premier Brian Tobin, all said ?no way!?
So the Liberals changed the rules to make it easier to finance participation in the leadership race. The result? Gathering at the starting line is a bizarre group of potential candidates that has induced reactions ranging from hilarity to horror to bewilderment among Liberal Party members.
Bizarre turned to surreal when fiddler Ashley MacIsaac announced this week that he?s very ?serious? about making a run at the Liberal leadership. MacIsaac, a talented ?Celtic rock? fiddler he may be, is as famous for his open and eerie descriptions of his gay lifestyle, selling his fiddle to buy crack and meeting the Queen while stoned on drugs.
Closer here to home, Hedy Fry says she intends to seek the Liberal leadership. Ms. Fry is, of course, notorious in our riding for her outlandish and unsubstantiated accusations of racism in Prince George where, she claimed in 2001, ?crosses are being burned on lawns as we speak?.
Then there?s Belinda Stronach. I can?t be sure, but I think her entry into the leadership race might interest the Guinness Book of World Records. Who else can claim to have sought to actually LEAD both of Canada?s major political parties in a span of less than two years?
Speaking of those wanting to take the helm of whatever party will let him lead, the former New Democratic Premier of Ontario, Bob Rae, seems almost certain to seek the federal Liberal leadership. Judging from the horror stories that residents of Ontario tell me about his term as their premier, he?s a surprising candidate, not to mention bad news for the Liberal Party.
Michael Ignatieff, a ?star? candidate for the Liberals in the January election, certainly has a lot of catching up to do if he runs for the leadership, having returned to Canada after living and working abroad for 30 years. Perhaps his three-decade absence explains his peculiar musings that contradict many of the policies the Liberal Party claims to stand for.
Some Liberals view it as fortunate that MP Scott Brison?s entry into the leadership has been put into doubt after it was alleged he sent emails to an investment buddy revealing top secret federal information on Income Trusts.
Rounding out the leadership list, there have been ?maybes? from a handful of former Liberal cabinet ministers (John McCallum, Ralph Goodale, Joe Volpe), most simply eyeing any possible job promotion following their January election defeat.
It?s all sad enough to almost make a Liberal long for the return of ?Mr. Dithers?, a.k.a. Paul Martin, himself.
Just one more reason I?m glad I?m not a Liberal.