From his home in the sparsely populated Northern Ontario township of Ignace, Nelson Taddeo has to travel 250 km east to reach what he refers to as the nearest “big city”— Thunder Bay, with a population of 110,000. But Taddeo, a 38-year-old mechanic who operates a family business servicing automobiles and appliances, is keenly interested in life beyond his isolated region. He says that he follows national and international events closely and that he likes to debate such topics as the merits of free trade and the effect of the Goods and Services Tax on small businesses. A committed member of the federal Progressive Conservative party, Taddeo hopes to be a delegate at June’s leadership convention in Ottawa.
In the meantime, he says that he is taking “a very close look” at each of the declared and potential candidates before deciding where to throw his support. Even at this early stage, though, he says that he is particularly impressed by Defence Minister Kim Campbell. Said Taddeo: “I look at Kim Campbell and I see someone with a fresh approach, national appeal and a most imposing intellect.” As the findings of a Maclean ’s poll conducted by Ottawa-based COMPAS Inc. indicate, that high opinion of Campbell appears to be the overwhelming view of the majority of active Tories.
In fact, party members of both sexes and language groups say that they will support Campbell strongly. COMPAS, which is partly owned by the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, specializes in conducting surveys of specific target groups, including business executives and professionals (page 14). The poll, conducted by telephone with a representative group of 450 Tories who attended the party’s 1991 national policy convention, indicates that Campbell’s support is now so strong among party activists that if a leadership vote had been held at the time of polling, she would likely win easily—with her first ballot support almost equalling the combined support of all other potential candidates.
And, in the event of a second ballot pitting Campbell against three of her most likely challengers—Finance Minister Donald Mazankowski, Environment Minister Jean Charest and Communications Minister Perrin Beatty—the poll indicates that Campbell would crush her opposition, winning 68 per cent of that vote.
If Mazankowski stayed out of the race and External Affairs Minister Barbara McDougall stepped in, Campbell’s share would rise even higher—to 80 per cent, with Charest at nine per
cent, Beatty at eight per cent and McDougall at three per cent. But perhaps the most significant finding, according to the president of COMPAS, Conrad Winn, is that “there seems to be virtually no potential for Tories to gang up in an anybody-but-Campbell movement.” The reason: at this stage of the race, at least, she is not widely identified with any strong negative factors. Said Winn: “She is perceived well by most Tories—even those who may not initially support her.”
Those results appear to confirm the opinion of many Tory organizers—and the fears of some of them—in the weeks following Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s Feb. 24 announcement of his planned resignation. The 46-year-old Campbell’s still-undeclared candidacy has already attracted so much high-level support that it has driven some potential candidates such as International Trade Minister Michael Wilson out of the race and made others wary of entering the contest. It has also led some Tories to worry openly that Canadians may lose interest in the contest.
Some party members also express fears that Campbell will not reflect traditional conservative values. Partly as a result, a group of western Tory MPs, led by Alberta backbencher Albert Cooper, has begun pressing Mazankowski to reverse his earlier announcement that he will not run. Although Mazankowski does not speak French, he is viewed as the one leadership candidate who could win significant support against Campbell outside of Quebec. Mulroney himself, apparently trying to drum up more enthusiasm for the race, said last week that no party member “should be stripped of the possibility of running because of the absence of impeccable bilingualism.”
Even among undecided Tories, there is concern that Campbell’s large early support will lead to overexposure and more intense scrutiny and criticism from the media. Respondent Maiu Betlem, 55, of St. John’s, Nfld., said that she is still undecided. She acknowledged that she might vote for Campbell, but she added: “I would be very afraid the media would label her as pro-gay or profeminist. It might happen that the media begin to present her that way, and that would be a pity.” At the same time, Campbell and other candidates face the delicate challenge of presenting themselves as agents of political change—while still under the close scrutiny of Mulroney, who will tolerate little criticism of his government’s record. At a caucus meeting last week, a stern Prime Minister warned potential candidates that if they publicly criticize his policies they “can
Q: Who should succeed Mulroney?
Kim Campbell 38%
Donald Mazankowski 8
Michael Wilson* 7
Jean Charest 5
Joe Clark* 5
Perrin Beatty 4
Peter Lougheed* 3
Benoît Bouchard* 2
Barbara McDougall 1
Bernard Valcourt 1
Garth Turner 1
James Edwards 1
Don’t know 18
»(‘Have said that they will not run)
take it for granted that I will not be happy—and that they will have to deal with me.”
Fortunately for leadership hopefuls, the Maclean VCOMPAS poll indicates that most Tories take great pride in several of the government’s most significant—and controversial— achievements (page 18). There is strong support for the Free Trade Agreement with the United States and the GST—but less enthusiasm for the government’s policies towards aboriginals, gays and its emphasis on deficit reduction. Still, said Winn, the challenge for the next leader is that “Tories are proud and satisfied with the Mulroney government, but do not necessarily want his successor to be obviously linked to his legacy” (page 16).
That, say many Tories, is a key reason why
THE TOP FOUR
In addition to their preferred choice (left), respondents to the MACLEAN'S/COMPAS poll were asked to name their second choice for party leader. Using that information, COMPAS president Conrad Winn calculated the results of a second ballot if the leadership contest narrowed to a race among Campbell, Mazankowski, Charest and Beatty:
[Based on results from 275 respondents. Of the original 450 Conservatives in the survey, 20 per cent offered no first preference and were not asked to name a second. As well, some of those with a first preference did not identify a second choice. In a small number of cases, respondents named a second choice who was not among the top four.)
Campbell is such an appealing candidate. K she wins, said Taddeo, “it would do a lot to dispel the image of us as a party made up entirely of middle-aged, middle-class males.”
Lester Leavitt, a 33-year-old accountant from Mission, B.C., offered a similar reason for his support. “I am one of those Canadians who is fed up with professional politicians,” said Leavitt, who is vice-president of the Mission/Coquitlam riding association. “Kim Campbell has never come across to me as a professional politician.”
Still, some Tories express concern that Campbell, who was first elected to the Commons in the downtown riding of Vancouver Centre in 1988, may have opinions that run counter to established Tory beliefs (page 20).
One of those is Dennis Cox, a 46-year-old farmer from High Prairie, Alta., who has been a party member for more than 20 years.
“This perceived front-runner has philosophies and attitudes that I disagree with,” said Cox. “The changes that came out of her stint as justice minister suggest that interest groups have a place to play in the politics of our country. I am concerned about that.”
Among other contenders, the first casualty of Campbell's strength was Wilson, initially considered a certain candidate. In fact, the Maclean 'S/COMPAS poll, taken before Wilson declared that he would not seek the leadership, showed that he appealed to seven per cent of respondents—a measure of support roughly equal, after allowing for the poll’s margin of error, to Charest’s (five per cent) and Beatty’s (four per cent). Both of those men are considered popular, credible candidates within the party.
But even though Wilson could have easily raised the $900,000 allowed for campaign spending, friends cautioned him that a poor showing in the
race could have embarrassed him publicly. Several associates said that they feared a poor leadership showing for Wilson might have made it difficult for him to find a suitable high-paying career after he retired from politics. One friend said that Wilson is now indeed likely to leave politics and return to private sector work on Toronto’s Bay Street by the time of the next federal election.
At the same time, Campbell’s surprisingly strong popularity in Quebec has undercut Charest’s position and caused another potential candidate, McDougall, to seriously question running. The poll’s findings, said Winn, indicate that “Campbell’s support is strong in all segments of the party, including Quebec.”
In fact, friends of McDougall said that, after attending a meeting with Tories in the Quebec City region last week, she realized that the only potential candidates with any significant support in that province are Campbell and Charest. Still, other likely candidates continue to test their support: Beatty met for dinner last week at Montreal’s exclusive Mount Royal Club with a group of about 20 business executives, including David Morton, chief executive officer of Alcan Aluminium Ltd., and André Bérard, chairman of the National Bank of Canada. But Beatty supporters acknowledged that the business leaders’ attendance at the dinner was not considered to be a gesture of support.
For his part, Charest has been stung by the decision of many senior Quebec Tories to support Campbell. Last week, Justice Minister Pierre Blais, who had been the Tory’s co-chairman for the national election campaign, stepped down from that neutral party position in order to
Q: Is there anyone you would be uncomfortable voting for?
Michael Wilson Barbara McDougall Bernard Valcourt
Q: Which potential candidate do you think of as having good judgment?
Kim Campbell 29%
Michael Wilson 20%
Donald Mazankowski 14%
Joe Clark 9%
declare his support for Campbell. Friends said that Blais decided to support Campbell because he feared that staying on the sidelines during the leadership campaign would weaken his future position in the party.
By contrast, Labor Minister Marcel Danis, who succeeds Blais as one of the election campaign’s two directors, had been considering offers from both Charest and Campbell to play key roles in their campaigns—as well as mulling over the possibility of himself running for the leadership. But Danis, a highly respected organizer, finally accepted the cochairman’s position after Mulroney called him to a private meeting and urged him to take it.
At the same time, Campbell has won the support of most of the party’s nationalist wing in Quebec—at the expense of Charest, who had been expected to gain strong support as the province’s only candidate. One reason for the swing to Campbell is that Charest, according to a senior Quebec Tory, is seen as “too federalist”—an odd criticism of anyone hoping to be prime minister of Canada.
But Charest made enemies among Quebec nationalist elements of the party in 1991 when he sponsored a bill that called for environmental assessments of major provincial projects like dams and pulp mills if they affected areas of federal jurisdiction. Quebecers viewed the bill as a potential threat to control of the province’s cherished James Bay hydroelectric project. As a result, six Quebec Conservative senators abstained from a vote on it—although the bill eventually passed. Those senators, including former National Assembly member Solange
Chaput-Rolland and former top provincial civil servant Roch Bolduc, now support Campbell.
Still, Winn said that besides Campbell, Charest appears at this stage to be the only candidate with potential to substantially enlarge his support during the course of the campaign. That is because Charest, at 34, is seen as representing generational change, being capable of outshowing Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien in debates in both languages and, like Campbell, of winning support in all regions of the country. Said Winn: “Charest is the other candidate who seems to best reflect the qualities that Tories want.” However, other aspirants challenging Campbell, such as the cerebral Toronto MP Patrick Boyer, who last week became the first declared candidate, will have to confront the possibility that the leadership race may be over even though it has barely begun. That prospect leaves party members with two choices. One is to make extra efforts to give financial and organizational support to other candidates in order to make the race more interesting to their fellow Canadians. Even some of Campbell’s supporters might discreetly contribute money and, in some cases, arrange volunteer help for other candidates. A second possibility, said one senior organizer, “is for everyone to acknowledge that Kim has it in the bag—and to begin focusing now on the election.” Either option represents an extraordinary show of confidence in a still-undeclared candidate.
ANTHONY WILSON-SMITH with LUKE FISHER in Ottawa
Q: Who do you think is most capable of defeating the Reform party?
Kim Campbell 44%
Donald Mazankowski 12%
Q: Who do you think is most capable of defeating the Bloc Québécois?
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