Frank McKenna has become the second high-profile Liberal to bow out of the race to replace Paul Martin.
McKenna’s decision today followed last week’s announcement by former deputy prime minister John Manley that he won’t be a leadership candidate.
And Brian Tobin may soon follow suit.
A source close to the former Newfoundland premier said Tobin is not “chewing at the bit” to return to politics either.
“(He is) consulting family and friends and asking himself many of the same questions as McKenna.”
The reluctance of the three, all considered among the frontrunners to succeed Martin, suggests the leadership of the Liberal party is not the prize it once was.
Frank McKenna's withdrawal highlights two significant problems for the Liberal Party in its bid to be restored to what it deems its rightful place as Canada's natural governing party.
First, its domination by the left wing of the party. McKenna and John Manley would both have had to run the gauntlet of fiscal and social liberals who would have attacked their records of fiscal conservatism, their close corporate connections, and especially in McKenna's case, perceived social conservatism on the two issues that have become litmus tests for progressives: abortion on demand and homosexual civil marriage.
Second, the debilitating effects of the Chretien-Martin civil war on the party. Both men are gone, but their proxies live on. McKenna was the Board's great hope; for that reason alone, the Chretien people would have sabotaged him. So will it also be for any Chretienite leadership hopeful. Which may also explain Brian Tobin's reticence.
We could be looking at a race full of second-tier candidates and turncoat opportunists, the weakest and most crowded field since the 1968 convention. Hardly an inspiration for the serious reflection and renewal the party must go through if it wants to see government again any time soon!
Source: Toronto Star