So I’ve been tasked with trying to explain what’s going on behind the scenes as the PCs try to hash out who will be their next leader. This is a nigh-impossible task for a few reasons:
- The state of play is changing so rapidly that anything I write here could be obsolete within minutes
- The social media air is so full of mixed signals that parsing them would require spreadsheets and algebraic formulae
- Nobody really knows what’s going on because a situation where the party leader went down this close to an election has never happened before, so there are some back-of-the-napkin constitutional interpretations and ad-hoc precedents being set
With that in mind, here are some absolute knowns that may help reign in some of this chaos:
- The caucus really, really doesn’t want another outsider. They went with Brown, and look how that turned out! But in their defence, they have done the legwork and put the time in. So why should they be brushed aside for some interloper?
- Nobody is going to come out and declare, so there are a lot of signals being sent by people associated with the candidates. But these people can’t LOOK like they’re sending signals because they don’t want to look as if they are making a power grab while the party is still bleeding from Brown’s exit and there are accusations of conspiracy flying around. So, if you see one of those lists of possible successors, assume that the higher a potential candidate is, the more signals are being sent.
- The party is desperately trying to salvage this because for them, winning is everything. So they are trying to put out a united front despite all the thwarted ambitions and built up frustrations, touting positive (questionable) poll results and keeping it mostly clean (at least in public).
- If a politically-connected person on Facebook is advocating for a long race, that means they have a potential candidate who is a federal MP lined up. Unless the person works in a specific MP’s office, you don’t know who they are supporting. They don’t want the race now, so their candidate can prepare and declare later.
- People are prepared to wait out the election and declare afterwards if the PCs don’t win so they aren’t tainted by a loss. This means there will be people passively, if not actively, rooting for a Conservative loss.
Make sense? Well, let’s use an example.
For example, Lisa MacLeod let it slip that she’d warned the party about Brown’s alleged misbehavior in December and that she’d been rebuffed. This was likely intended to make her look like she was bravely sounding the alarm and coming forward, which would shield her from accusations that she did nothing AND make it look like she was taking #MeToo seriously. It also positioned herself as an outsider in the event that a leadership race would happen now or later, BUT she didn’t name any names so as not to overly alienate or single any potential allies out. She also supported the current interim leader, Vic Fedeli, to keep her options open for later. Although, even with all that couching, she still had to walk back her original statements.
Eric & I speak regularly about concussions & sometimes about hockey & politics. At no time did he share with me specific allegations about Patrick Brown. Rather he asked me in November "what is it that they have on Patrick Brown"? after hearing speculation. I shared that.
— Lisa MacLeod (@MacLeodLisa) January 26, 2018
The cumulative effect of this air war won’t be known for a few weeks at least. But one thing’s for sure: the potential candidates had plans ready to go in the event that this happened. That means that whoever does end up in charge better watch their back.