Saturday, April 22, 2017

CPC Leadership - The C-List (Blaney, Lemieux, Obhrai, Peterson, and Saxton)

This is part of my larger series on the CPC leadership - see that post for my methodology. This post is on the five candidates who I think are not significant contenders, due to having minimal support nationwide - Steven Blaney, Pierre Lemieux, Deepak Obhrai, Rick Peterson, and Andrew Saxton.

Steven Blaney

Fiscal: 0/6 He's a bit hard to judge here(and on most other issues), because his policy platform is extremely thin. But the biggest thing he's pushing is fanatical support for supply management, and about the only fiscal policy I can see otherwise is a totally unspecified claim about making it easier to pass down family businesses(which is already strongly tax-advantaged) and a desire to have the government drop credit card fees(which is pure NDP populism). Literally nothing that I agree with him on, in the category where any Tory with a pulse should at least be able to score 2 or 3 on gimmies like a balanced budget.
Social: 2/4 He wants to reduce immigration, which I dislike, but his justice reforms aren't terrible, and his support for nuclear is a breath of fresh air.
Foreign: 3/4 He's actually decent here. Nothing crazy, nothing offensive, pretty much just generic conservatism.
Governance: 1/3 The only thing I can even loosely class as "governance" is a desire to have Supreme Court nominations be decided by an all-party committee. Which is fine, I guess, but it's not exactly a big deal.
Decency: 1/3 He's taking basically the same line as Leitch on "Canadian values", and while he's been less enthusiastic, it's still not great.
Electability: 1.5/3 He's not known for an abundance of charisma, but bilingualism is good for a point, and he's not obviously offensive.
Unity: 1/2 The biggest group he offends is the Bernier camp, who probably aren't going to leave no matter what, but he really offends us quite a lot. If he somehow became PM, another Bristol Aerospace-type screwjob like the one that kicked off the Reform Party seems more plausible than with any other candidate.
TOTAL: 9.5/25 Ugggh.

Pierre Lemieux

Fiscal: 1/6 So far as I can tell, he doesn't actually have any fiscal policy posted. One point for not actively offending me.
Social: 0/4 This is clearly his signature issue, and not in a way I like. He's a Bible-thumper, all about social conservative pet issues. I can tolerate being in the same party as socons, but I don't agree with them at all on this stuff.
Foreign: 2/4 He's fairly pro-military, and like I said for Bernier, simply saying "radical Islamic terrorism" out loud is worth a couple points. No actual policy regarding other countries aside from the obligatory support for Israel, but this is a good starting point.
Governance: 1/3 Free speech has somewhat morphed into a socon issue recently, because they're the ones who are most likely to get shut down these days. I believe in it as a generic, not to try to win debates, but that still means socons pushing free speech can make decent allies here. No big stuff like Bernier or Chong, but it's something.
Decency: 0/3 His post about the massacre of a bunch of Muslims was all about why we should oppose a nonbinding motion that mentioned Islamophobia. I'm normally willing to give a fair bit of credit to socons, even when I disagree with them, but that was profoundly terrible.
Electability: 0/3 He'll do well in rural areas west of Quebec, but everywhere else he'll be eaten alive. Given that those areas are the ones we'd win with a stuffed animal in charge of the party, no points.
Unity: 0.5/2 Like Trost, he'd be a sop to the socons, and everyone else would run screaming.
TOTAL: 4.5/25 Profoundly awful, and I'm very glad that he's got a lower chance of winning than I do.

Deepak Obhrai

Fiscal: 3/6 Much like Alexander, it's standard-issue Tory policy with a bit too much emphasis on ways governments can create jobs - almost half his economic policy is ways to expand the mandate of the Business Development Bank of Canada. He says lower taxes and private investment are the way to do it, but he doesn't actually act like he believes it.
Social: 3.5/4 Sensible immigration policy, good law and order policy, and a very sensible avoidance of the usual hot-buttons of gay marriage and abortion. I'd like to see a higher immigration target, and like all candidates besides Chong the environment is a bit of a notable hole here, but those are quibbles. Very good overall.
Foreign: 3/4 Some interesting stuff here. He pins the blame for terrorism primarily on the hopelessness of people living in dictatorships, which is an angle you don't see much of(but which seems closer to the mark than the bombing-based theories), he takes a very sensible line regarding Trump and the Muslim ban(basically, work with them on security but don't let them dictate our policy), and he has the suggestion of abandoning multilateral trade deals in favour of bilateral, going so far as to suggest dividing NAFTA into three separate bilateral deals(which I think will add too much overhead to be practical with existing deals, but as a future emphasis makes sense). I don't agree with him on all of it, but he seems to at least be grounded in reality, and he talks about the issues seriously. That's important, and sadly also quite rare.
Governance: 2/3 Not a lot here, but the one relevant post is extremely interesting. He wants to break up the bulk of the work of the Department of Indigenous Affairs and decentralize its operations into every other relevant federal department, to ensure that the work of implementing the Indian Act is done equally for everyone, whether on-reserve or off-reserve, and to encourage further decentralization and self-government. It's not a fully-fleshed out governance policy, but it shows a depth of thought that most candidates aren't showing, and I have a lot of respect for that.
Decency: 3/3 As should be expected of someone with a personal history of facing discrimination, he's pretty enthusiastic about not doing the same to others. No faults here I can see.
Electability: 2/3 His current material is deeply low-budget, and has an air of the elderly crank about it(weird capitalization, etc.), but like a lot of the others, I suspect that'd be fixed quickly if he had the resources of the whole party at his disposal. Also, he's not very good with French. Otherwise, he's pretty good - a visible minority leader will offset a lot of the usual attacks on Tories, he's got a slightly goofy charm that has served him well, and he seems to be good with the memes. I think he'd do well here.
Unity: 2/2 Everybody seems to like him, and his policy is very middle-of-the-road for the party. He'll have no problems.
TOTAL: 18.5/25 What can I say? I like the guy. He's got a fun style, he seems to actually think about issues, and his policy is good. We could do far worse.

Rick Peterson

Fiscal: 6/6 This is the sort of fiscal policy I expect from a think-tank, not from an actual politician. No corporate income tax, no corporate welfare, and a flat personal income tax(with a $24k basic exemption), all funded by a GST hike? Crikey. Like with Bernier's plan to eliminate capital gains taxes, I think the elimination of corporate income taxes is going a bit too far, and will raise more distributional issues than it's worth, but nobody can accuse him of timidity here. I'd much rather a politician go into office bold, as long as they're not stupid about it - the rough edges can always be filed off later. The only flaw I see is that his seniors policy is a bit silly, but it's harmless.
Social: 4/4 He wants to dramatically expand immigration, with a focus on economic immigrants, and wants security screening to be done in ways that might actually work. He's pro-choice, pro-SSM, pro-LGBT, and pro-euthanasia, but is willing to tolerate social conservatives despite that. He's got no environmental policy and is a bit thin on law and order, but with those two headliners I really don't care.
Foreign: 1/4 This is his weak spot. He doesn't say anything that I can see on anything outside Canada's borders beyond immigration, and he has no particular experience that makes me think he'd be any good with the issue. I trust his instincts, but not his knowledge of this topic.
Governance: 2.5/3 Some very good stuff here. He wants to let Revenu-Quebec collect federal income taxes in Quebec the way they already collect other federal taxes, to save Quebecers from filing two returns(which is so common-sense that I'm surprised it's not already the case), and he wants to loosen up the Canada Health Act substantially as well. Not quite as expansive as a federalism plan as Bernier's, but it's the closest of any of them.
Decency: 3/3 He seems to actually think before he opens his mouth, and actually care when he does. That's not unique, of course, but it's good to see. Delaying campaign announcements on his Quebec tour when the mosque shooting happened, for example, is a good sign that he actually cares about acting decently.
Electability: 2/3 He's bilingual, has a good resume, and satisfies the whole "not a career politician" kick that voters seem to be on. "Venture capitalist" is a bad line of work for a right-wing politician trying to appeal to the general public, as Romney proved, but other than that he looks good.
Unity: 1.5/2 We may lose a few squishy reds, but I don't think it'll be too bad. He even has a policy for building a stronger party, which is pablum("stronger party" proposals are always pablum), but pablum that other candidates don't seem to be bothering with.
TOTAL: 20/25 Why couldn't this guy have been as famous as O'Leary? He's got a very similar background and appeal, but he's sensible, non-abrasive, has far better policy, doesn't want to rule the country with an iron fist, and actually acts like he's Canadian. This is the sort of candidate I usually wind up supporting, because anyone this awesome is normally grossly unpopular with the broader public. The existence of Bernier is a happy fluke, but in a normal election I'd be one of the lonely few Peterson supporters east of BC.

Andrew Saxton

Fiscal: 4/6 Not as bold as some, but a very detailed portfolio of smaller measures that are all individually good. That said, he talks about lower taxes, but doesn't actually propose any tax cuts, and when he's got a detailed proposal that includes the fiscal impact of eliminating the LSVCC credit and turning the $5 bill into a coin, that tells me he doesn't actually intend to cut taxes at all. This is a really odd hole in his plan, and calls into question the rest of it, so I'm docking him a point.
Social: 1.5/4 He wants to drop immigration levels(as a cost-saving measure, no less, which is profoundly foolish), though he does seem to want to improve it administratively. His environmental policy mostly consists of praying for a technological breakthrough. His justice policy is fiddling around the edges, but it's at least decent fiddling.
Foreign: 1.5/4 Much like Peterson, whose campaign feels very similar, this is a hole. He talks about helping veterans, and he mentions being "familiar with international dynamics" and the importance of good government internationally in passing, but there's nothing concrete there. The closest he comes to real policy is "Expanded trade with the world"(which isn't a headline, that's the entire policy).
Governance: 1/3 Nothing here that I can see, for good or ill.
Decency: 3/3 As with a lot of others, he gets full marks here because he hasn't done anything offensive that I've seen. He talks about how it's a good thing that it's boring, and on this it is.
Electability: 1/3 He's decently bilingual, but doesn't have much else going for him. Unlike the last category, when it comes to electability, "boring" is really not a virtue.
Unity: 2/2 I can't imagine anyone having a problem with him, and he has a slightly-less-pablum-than-usual policy on rebuilding the party.
TOTAL: 14/25 I wanted to like him, but he's actually pretty disappointing now that I've dug into his platform. It's fuzzy, mushy, and not well-considered.

(Next: Ranked Ballots 101)

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