Charest may have the momentum, but the Tory race is still Campbell's to lose
THE HOME STRETCH
Charest may have the momentum, but the Tory race is still Campbell's to lose
n politics, alliances are often quickly made and bro ken-but the memory of rejection can linger for many years. In 1983, Senator Lowell Murray, a longtime friend of Brian Mulroney, supported Joe Clark in the Progressive Conservative leadership race. Incensed, the victorious Mulroney promptly froze out Murray-a well-respected party figure-
In politics, alliances are often quickly made and broken—but the memory of rejection can linger for many years. In 1983, Senator Lowell Murray, a longtime friend of Brian Mulroney, supported Joe Clark in the Progressive Conservative leadership race. Incensed, the victorious Mulroney promptly froze out Murray—a well-respected party figure— from his personal and political inner circles. Similarly, Liberal Leader Jean Chrétien was deeply hurt in 1984 when two longtime friends and former cabinet colleagues, Francis Fox and André Ouellet, supported John Turner in the campaign to succeed Pierre Trudeau. Eventually, both Mulroney and Chrétien restored their wayward colleagues to positions of influence. But neither incident has been entirely forgotten. Confided Chrétien recently to one associate: “I felt I did everything for them when they needed me—and when I needed them, they did everything for my opponent.”
On the eve of this week’s Tory leadership vote on June 13, one sidelight is inevitable: Kim Campbell and Jean Charest will emerge nursing the same feelings of betrayal. Charest, in his quixotic drive for the leadership, was stung when several longtime friends sup-
ported Campbell, who at the time seemed a shoo-in to win. According to a Maclean's/CTV poll conducted by the Angus Reid Group, Campbell's level of support is now well short of a majority. Even so, the results suggest that she will win the race unless her supporters desert her to join Charest. The poll, conducted between May 31 and June 2 among a representative sample of 514 of the 3,800 delegates sched
ported Campbell, who at the time seemed a shoo-in to win. According to a Maclean’s/CYV poll conducted by the Angus Reid Group, Campbell's level of support is now well short of a majority. Even so, the results suggest that she will win the race unless her supporters desert her to join Charest. The poll, conducted between May 31 and June 2 among a representative sample of 514 of the 3,800 delegates scheduled to attend the convention, indicated that Campbell led Charest by a margin of 43 per cent to 31 per cent.
The poll, as well as separate analyses by senior Tories working with their own tracking numbers, suggested that Campbell is within close reach of winning on the first ballot. To seal victory, she needs to hang on to her declared support and win additional votes from about one in four of the 15 per cent of delegates who say that they are still undecided and the 11 per cent who currently support one of the other candidates—Jim Edwards, Patrick Boyer and Garth Turner.
On the other hand, there is a growing belief among senior Tories that if she fails to win on the first ballot, she probably will not win at all. That logic is based in part on general unhappiness with the way she has conducted her campaign and widespread agreement, even among
Campbell supporters, that Charest has campaigned impressively. As well, the Maclean’s/ CTV poll indicates that about one in four of both Campbell’s and Charest’s supporters are prepared to switch their allegiances.
Charest’s hopes of overtaking Campbell rest largely on convincing delegates that he—rather than Campbell— can attract mainstream voters back to the party. The 34year-old native of Sherbrooke, Que., is also courting three veteran ministers who are expected to retire before the next election—Constitutional Affairs Minister Joe Clark, Fisheries Minister John Crosbie and Finance Minister Donald Mazankowski. Endorsements from all three would add significantly to Charest’s perceived momentum going into the convention—but might also support Campbell’s assertion that she represents a break with the past.
By last week, the oncechummy tone of the campaign had become increasingly strained. Campbell mocked Charest as a lightweight and evoked memories of his 1990 resignation as Minister of Fitness and Amateur Sport after he telephoned a judge who was hearing a case involving the Canadian Track and Field Association. Meanwhile,
Campbell supporters have accused Charest’s workers of deliberately violating an informal agreement aimed at preserving party unity. In Quebec, the two sides initially agreed not to campaign in ridings where MPs already supported a candidate. By breaking that truce, Charest won delegate slates in five ridings in which the incumbent supports Campbell.
The chippy tone reflects the concerns of key supporters who have personal stakes in the race. The new leader will be sworn in as prime minister on June 21 and, according to senior party sources, would unveil his or her new cabinet on June 28. Most of
the important positions will go to supporters of the victor, or to ministers who stayed neutral. A Campbell win would likely propel her campaign manager, Newfoundland MP Ross Reid into the cabinet; another key supporter, Treasury Board President Gilles Loiselle, appears in line to become finance minister. Former defence minister Marcel Masse, also a Campbell supporter, has told friends that he expects to be named as Canada’s organizer for the biennial summit of francophone nations.
Mulroney appeared ready to announce the Masse appointment and a number of others in late May, but came under strong pressure to hold off because of internal party debate over the number of appointments to make—and which people should fill them, to avoid tarring his successor. Despite that, he was expected to name veteran Tory Marjory LeBreton and Montreal lawyer and Tory fund-raiser David Angus to the Senate this week, and either Quebec organizer Pierre-Claude Nolin or Sillery Mayor Margaret Delisle. Supporters of Campbell are urging Mulroney to appoint Delisle rather than Nolin, who is a key Charest supporter. To deflect criticism, senior Tories told Maclean’s, Mulroney has also offered Senate seats to former Liberal prime minister John Turner and New Democratic Party Deputy Leader Nelson Riis. Neither has yet responded.
Those Senate appointments are a way of rewarding old friends and ensuring that his party retains a grip on power even after he leaves office. But some Tories fear that such patronage damages the party’s electoral hopes, and they fear that the party’s continuing unpopularity will linger after his departure. The Maclean’s/CTV poll indicates that Tory respondents endorse many of Mulroney’s economic initiatives and strongly believe that he moved the country in the right direction. But more than three-quarters of them also want the new leader to reject Mulroney’s style. That reflects a marked lack of nostalgia among Tories towards a leader who brought them majority election victories in 1984 and 1988. The incoming
leader, entering office after an increasinglydivisive campaign, would do well to remember that victory brings no guarantee of lasting affection. ANTHONY WILSON-SMITH
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