Ruby Dhalla: The Next Barack Obama?
I normally don’t go around giving advice to people I disagree with, let alone people in foreign countries who I disagree with. Yet, in this particular case I just can’t resist. While I’ve been busy with the Draft Palin movement lately, I’ve also been entranced by this year’s election in Canada. Of course, I was thrilled at the re-election of Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper. However, I was even more intrigued by the total collapse of the once-dominant Liberal Party of Canada.
Once considered Canada’s “natural governing party” the Liberals imploded in the October 15th general election - they suffered their worst defeat in history in terms of popular vote, won only 77 out of 308 seat in Parliament. Not surprisingly, party leader Stephane Dion gave up his position, making him the first Liberal leader in over a century to never occupy the Prime Minister’s office. His resignation triggers a race for the party leadership, roughly equivalent to presidential primaries here in the States, to be decided at a convention next May.
Now, here’s why I’m telling you all this: I may be a conservative, but I am not a political sadist. the Liberals seem intent on nailing their own coffin shut by selecting a leader who will divide their party, suffer another crushing defeat to the Conservatives, and potentially leave an opening for the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP) to make huge gains (something that would be REALLY scary). However, there is also a profound opportunity available to them.
Three members of Parliament have already entered the race: Former Harvard professor Michael Ignatieff, Former Premier of Ontario Bob Rae (a recent defector from the NDP), and rising star Dominic LeBlanc. We’ll get to the one candidate who hasn’t decided yet in a minute. Ignatieff and Rae almost tore the party apart in the 2006 leadership race, their camps became so polarized that the now -disgraced Stephane Dion (who entered the convention in fourth place) was able to run up the middle by picking up the support of all the minor candidates as they were eliminated (the delegates vote, the last-place candidate is eliminated, they vote again..simple process). It is likely that the same thing will happen this time, making it impossible for the party to unify after the election (Rae’s people couldn’t follow Ignatieff and vice-versa). LeBlanc has the benefit of being young (40) and has the backing of a number of important people, but I just don’t see him having enough “oomph” to match either of the two frontrunners, and I think he would do poorly in a national election . All three are horrible choices, and most of the potential minor candidates have bowed out in an attempt to avoid the type of multi-candidate circus that brought Dion to power. So, the Liberals are dead, right? Wrong. There is one candidate still deciding whether to enter, and she should scare the living daylights out of our beloved Prime Minister Harper and his Conservatives. Meet Dr. Ruby Dhalla.
At only 34 years of age, Dhalla is a political prodigy. She extremely well spoken, SCARY smart, and has already built a career on the idea of getting young people more involved in politics (remind you of a certain President-elect?). In addition to being by far the youngest leadership hopeful in party history, the small number of candidates would make her both the only woman and the only minority in the race. As I see it, she is looking at her perfect storm. For one, Ignatieff and Rae will likely repeat their 2006 performance and polarize the party, leaving a massive opening for a spoiler to run up the middle. Dominic LeBlanc wants that hole, but he doesn’t have enough gas to get all the way through it (and his French name will draw lots of Dion comparisons). Dhalla, on the other hand, could gain a lot of steam by monopolizing the votes of youth, women, her fellow Indian-Canadians, and possibly other ethnic minorities. With the right strategy, she could quickly elbow LeBlanc out of third place and start peeling votes from both Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae (who are too focused on each other to see her coming up behind them). At the very least, she would enter the convention in a solid third place, and could probably gain LeBlanc’s endorsement after he is eliminated. This is exactly how Stphane Dion got into the final in 2006. By securing the backing of fourth-place candidate Gerard Kennedy, Dion catapulted past the second-place Rae and into a final showdown with Ignatieff.
I realize that I’m neither Liberal nor Canadian…but after spending a year and a half promoting Sarah Palin, I’d like to think that I know a thing or two about candidate scouting. The answer to all of the Liberals’ problems is staring them right in the face, and it’s killing me that they don’t seem to realize it. Instead, they are marching like lemmings into a useless Rae vs. Ignatieff grudge match, thereby driving themselves further into oblivion. I may be a conservative American, but I feel like I’m watching a totally avoidable train wreck. So, out of sheer good will, I feel compelled to point them in the right direction. So, for whatever its worth, I tried to stop speeding train before it crashed.
If Ruby Dhalla is smart, she will seize the day and become the first person to successfully replicate the Obama movement. In doing so, she can bring the Liberals back from the brink and shatter almost every glass ceiling in the book by simultaneously becoming the first woman, first minority, and youngest person ever elected Prime Minister. Or, her party could turn to one of the two old guys who are currently seen as the natural heirs to the position…which sounds like the smarter option to you?