Two geese and a gaggle

Allan Fotheringham December 17 1979

Two geese and a gaggle

Allan Fotheringham December 17 1979

Two geese and a gaggle


Allan Fotheringham

The remarkable thing about the Liberal party, the structure dedicated to power and fuelled by ambition, is that it enters the 1980 leadership race missing on more than a few cylinders and creaking in the rear end. In the 1968 free-form wrestling, there were a whole pack of men—Winters, Hellyer, Kierans, MacEachen, Turner— who might have made a very acceptable prime minister if there hadn’t been a chap in the contest called Trudeau. This time round, the two leading candidates aren’t even in Parliament and there is a whole gaggle of contenders who don’t have a hope. Pierre Trudeau, after 11 yeats of leading a party that believes it is born to rule, left behind him a cupboard that is very bare. Here is the early form chart:

Don Macdonald: Heaviest candidate. Wears pontoons for shoes. Once on the left wing of party. Now on the left wing of boardz rooms. Favorite of the in° cumbent, a mixed bless£ ing; Delegates restless £ about the laying-on of ° hands. This not Lourdes, but Winnipeg in March. No real base on the Prairies. Quebec bloc proving stubborn and not committed. Looks like a lumberjack-on-vacation but has mind (Osgoode Hall Law School, Harvard, Cambridge) that mangles fools. Has put famed temper on back burner. Charming wife, Ruth, has eyes that laser-beam reporters. Susceptible to Toronto-Bay Street handicap.

John Turner: The candidate from CPR. Prettier eyes than Farrah Fawcett. Festooned with directorships. May sink under the weight of them. Dazzling performer. Holds Guinness Book of World Records mark for most handshakes at one cocktail party. Also record for burning out bearings on his basement mimeograph machine. Nasty chain letters sniping at old colleagues not forgiven. Cleverly manoeuvred himself into being the “anti-establishment” candidate. This funniest thing since Marx Brothers. Has been aiming at PM since

Allan Fotheringham is a columnist for the FP News Service.

short pants when met Mackenzie King’s dog. (Dog, for once, was silent.) Has been surprised at amount of hostility in party. Susceptible to Toronto-Bay Street suspicions. (Suspected of being a Tory without a moustache.)

Jean Chrétien: Most likable candidate. Looks like Jean-Paul Belmondo. Talks like a machine-gun. Can’t win, but will be key Quebec kingmaker. Good friend of Macdonald’s. Leaves prospect that the three key candidates are all exfinance ministers. Demonstrates Canada’s sense of humor. One of 19 chil-

dren. Good boarding-house reach. Charms anglophone audiences. They’ll listen, but won’t vote.

Lloyd Axworthy: Hope of the West. Possible Third Man Theme. Solid social conscience, a reformer before the party moved to Bay Street. Could use better platform sense of humor (in this race, it badly needed). Surprisingly, doesn’t have French. Staking a claim for future.

Eugene Whelan: Will Rogers crossed with Jack Horner. Will be most entertaining portion of contest. Will mangle Turner’s corporate connections, plus the language. Guinness holder of slowtalking record.

Bryce Mackasey: The candidate from Air Canada. Barry Fitzgerald crossed with Tiger Williams. Self-proclaimed conscience of the party. Will enliven debate. Will fly CP.

Iona Campagnolo: Only candidate better looking than John Turner, has only one handicap. Lacks seat, so to speak. Fiery discipline. Great platform per-

former. Pressured by feminists to run. Would aid the race. We can only pray.

Pierre de Bañé: Probably most intellectual candidate. Also most unknown outside Commons. Will attempt to keep Liberal party liberal, no mean feat these days. No Toronto directorships.

Francis Fox: No chance. Back-room ambition never matched by public performance. More a party man than a public man. Hasn’t made the psychic leap. Should study Chrétien.

Speaker James Jerome: Great piano player. Fluent in the three official languages (English, French, bureaucratese). Has asset in comes from Sudbury. Anyone who can survive Sudbury could survive leadership ordeal. Dark horse. Needs to organize spontaneous draft.

Gerald Regan: Looking behind him in search of a parade. Has backers with money. Only problem is to find someone who remembers an ex-premier of Nova Scotia. Or cares. Will run on Maritimes favorite-son platform. Real aim is to stake out claim on Ottawa cabinet post.

Monique Bégin: Will run if Campagnolo does not. Passionate. Good on how contest dominated by two non-MPs from Toronto who have easy access to campaign funds. Another real Liberal (rare species these days).

Simma Holt: Eugene Whelan crossed with Gene Kiniski. Promises she will run if Turner backs off. A platform containing Whelan, Mackasey and Holt might levitate on self-opinion.

Keith Spicer: Would be in if had taken offered Liberal seat. Must be pondering long wait until next time round. Would bring the rare metal of wit, an almostbanned substance to politics. Needs a spontaneous, arranged draft.

Allan MacEachen: Only survivor, with Turner, from 1968 bloodbath. Well bloodied financially, has little heart to commit pecuniary suicide again. However, would not be shy if seized by the lapels as last-minute compromise. Don’t wait up.

Ed Schreyer: Good idea, but other engagements.