Political reporter Jane Taber takes an inside look at the week in politics.
How the Conservative leadership race is unfolding
No date has been set, or the rules of engagement figured out, but already there is some jockeying and lots of whispers about Stephen Harper’s replacement. This is the read of the race so far:
Kellie Leitch, the MP for Simcoe-Grey and former minister of labour, has angered some Conservatives for being so quick out of the gate. In fact, a senior Conservative official who was travelling on the campaign plane with Mr. Harper said that in the week before election day, he received e-mails and texts from colleagues, who said that Ms. Leitch was sending out notes and making phone calls letting people know she was planning to run for the leadership.
“Her message was essentially, he’s going to lose, I’m going to run and I want your support …,” said the official. He said that he told Mr. Harper about this, who was disappointed but not surprised. Ms. Leitch, who is also a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and has an MBA, is known for her ambition. She has been involved in provincial and federal politics for decades.
There is speculation that Nick Kouvalis, who ran Rob Ford’s successful Toronto mayoralty campaign and was instrumental in John Tory’s bid last year, is one of her senior strategists. But her spokesman, Andrew McGrath, wrote in an email that Ms. Leitch is “talking to her friends to get their thoughts on this.” Mr. Kouvalis is a friend of Ms. Leitch’s and “she’s sought his input on this.” However, no one has titles and “no one is part of a leadership team, yet,” wrote Mr. McGrath.
Insiders say that “soft” calls are being made on behalf of Lisa Raitt, the Milton MP, and former Transport Minister. Jason Kenney, the MP for Calgary Midnapore, was most recently Defence Minister before his government’s defeat. He has been quiet of late, but has been rumoured for years as a Harper replacement.
Tony Clement, the MP for Parry Sound-Muskoka, served in many senior cabinet posts in the Harper government. He was also a provincial cabinet minister in Ontario and ran against Mr. Harper for the leadership of the Conservative Party in 2004. “I am receiving a lot of positive feedback and am considering my options...,” he told The Globe and Mail Thursday.
Expectations are that former justice minister Peter MacKay, who resigned his seat in Nova Scotia before the election, will run. Insiders say the nearly 30-minute speech he gave at the Albany Club recently to introduce former prime minister Brian Mulroney was inspired and impressive as he laid out the successes of the Mulroney government. In return, Mr. Mulroney lauded Mr. MacKay for helping to lay the groundwork for nearly a decade of Conservative government by merging the Progressive Conservatives with the Canadian Alliance.
Brad Wall is the popular Premier of Saskatchewan, and there is perpetual speculation that he will jump to the federal stage. He has denied this, and is facing an election in the spring. But he has some Ontario Conservatives buzzing as he is coming to Toronto next week to speak to the Empire Club of Canada on the topic: What does the rest of Canada want from the West?
Because it's 2015...
Here’s another consequence of Justin Trudeau’s promotion of women in Ottawa – two of CBC’s most effective political voices, Bruce Anderson and Rob Silver, have stepped down from the panels they appear on because of the powerful women in their lives. This is a reversal, as the corridors of power in Ottawa have been traditionally male.
Not only is half of Mr. Trudeau’s cabinet female, he has appointed women to top positions in his PMO. Katie Telford is his chief of staff – only the second woman in Canadian history to serve in that position. Kate Purchase is his director of communications (former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper had a woman in that role.)
This is where Mr. Anderson and Mr. Silver come into the mix. Mr. Silver is Ms. Telford’s husband, and was until recently a regular member of the Power Panel on CBC’s Power and Politics program. Forceful and direct, Mr. Silver defended the Liberals without taking himself too seriously.
“For me it was less the conflict (I was on as a partisan Liberal and always identified as such) more than I just didn’t want to embarrass my wife as she’s doing her new job,” Mr. Silver wrote in an e-mail. He is a public-affairs consultant and a lawyer. “I’m as proud as anyone could be of her, and I am more than happy to step back as she’s doing an incredibly big and important job.”
Mr. Anderson, meanwhile, is Ms. Purchase’s father. For the past several years, he was a panelist on Peter Mansbridge’s influential At Issue panel. Mr. Anderson was succinct, never coming across as uncivil or partisan. He also wrote a digital column for The Globe and Mail during the 2015 election.
“The conversation during the At Issue panel is regularly a discussion of how the government of the day is doing, including its communications effectiveness,” Mr. Anderson noted in comments he posted on Facebook, explaining his decision.
In an e-mail to The Globe and Mail, Mr. Anderson said that “it wasn’t difficult to decide to step away from the panel …”
“It never crossed my mind that the right answer was for me to keep doing the panel, and for Kate to forgo a remarkable opportunity to contribute to government,” he wrote.
Mr. Anderson’s family is steeped in politics. He noted that both Ms. Purchase, his eldest daughter, and her sister, Mollie, “were raised in a home with a brilliant mother [Nancy Jamieson, who has been in senior policy positions with former prime minister Joe Clark and key ministers, including Michael Wilson] who was an early trailblazer in terms of women as top-drawer political advisers.”