Saturday, April 22, 2017

CPC Leadership - The A-List (Bernier, Leitch, O'Leary, O'Toole, and Scheer)

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 have a decent chance of winning the election - Maxime Bernier, Kellie Leitch, Kevin O'Leary, Erin O'Toole, and Andrew Scheer.

Maxime Bernier

Fiscal: 6/6 Top-notch policy here, probably the best of anyone. Large tax cuts, dramatic simplification of the tax system, the strongest opposition to corporate welfare of anyone, and so on. The only thing that I have to complain about is elimination of the capital gains tax(it'd be way too distortionary on the tax code, and encourage too many character-changing transactions), but I think that will be toned down in practice.
Social: 3/4 He's excellent here - pro-pot-legalization, pro-gay-rights, generally socially liberal without wanting to ram it down the throats of the party's backbenchers(who would lose a free vote, so let them have one), and an immigration policy that's good in most regards. Two things cost him the last point here - one, wanting to cut immigration numbers, and two, opposing a carbon tax(which sounds Liberal, but is by far the most market-based approach to environmentalism around).
Foreign: 3.5/4 Simply using the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" is guarantees you a 2/4 on its own - it's code for "I am actually taking the war that the West has been fighting for the last 15 years seriously", while not being one of those idiots who wants to bash an entire religion for the actions of a few splodeydopes. On top of that, his trade policy is excellent, and his defence policy seems generally sensible. Not as well fleshed-out as Alexander's, but still very good.
Governance: 3/3 He actually understands the Constitution's division of powers between the federal and provincial governments, and wants to make it happen in reality. Getting the feds out of being the biggest revenue source of provinces, and letting them have their own responsibilities to enact as they see fit, is a huge win here. It allows more accountability, less duplication of efforts, and more experimentation. Plus, you know, it's actually constitutionally mandated, so doing it seems like a good call.
Decency: 2/3 He's been flirting a bit too much with the alt-right for my taste, and while I like to tell myself it's tactical and not because he likes them, I have to dock him a point if I'm to be honest with myself. But other than that, he's impressed me.
Electability: 2.5/3 He has a couple skeletons in his closet(leaving secret documents at his girlfriend's place, while overblown, doesn't speak well), but otherwise he's quite good. Polished, professional, hardworking, and while I wish province of origin didn't matter, simply having a Quebecois leader(especially one who favours decentralization of power) is good for a bunch of seats.
Unity: 1/2 Sadly, a lot of Westerners hate and fear Quebecois leaders, and a lot of red Tories hate and fear right-wing principle. He's also campaigned pretty aggressively. We'll lose a few, at least in the short term.
TOTAL: 21/25 Not perfect, but very good. There's a reason I'm supporting him.

Kellie Leitch

Fiscal: 4/6 This is actually pretty good. Balanced budgets, CBC elimination, and a cap on government spending. No tax simplification, tentative support of supply management(but not enthusiastic, which puts her ahead of most), and her 5% per year cut targets are unrealistic, but I can dig it overall.
Social: 1/4 Her big issues here are legalizing nonlethal weapons for self-defence(tiny, but good), her signature immigrant-screening stuff(I actually like the sentiment of ensuring the protection of human rights, but good lord she's picked the worst imaginable way to do it), and re-banning pot(where legalization is probably the single politically easiest improvement to freedom we have). Not zero, but ugggh.
Foreign: 1/4 Not a lot of policy here - pretty much the only thing she says is weirdly enthusiastic pro-Israeli policy. I'm broadly pro-Israel, but she takes it to excess. I can't find much of anything else she has to say.
Governance: 1.5/3 Citizen-initiated referendums and reducing the political donation tax credit are both small, but I like them. Not worth full points, but it's something.
Decency: 0/3 She's basically running on dog-whistle xenophobia as her primary issue. I might have given her credit for having the courage to discuss tough and unpopular issues seriously, but she isn't treating them seriously - her policies would not actually do what she says they would, and quite predictably so. That's not serious, she's just being mean for the sake of it. No thanks.
Electability: 0.5/3 She has a strong resume, but she's not bilingual, she's made basically everyone cranky, and she's got no particular charisma or appeal outside of a small group of people who are already party diehards. The alt-right thing will probably peter out by 2019(god willing...), and that's the only way she could win.
Unity: 0/2 The best case here is that she winds up being a Trump-like figure, who repulses huge chunks of the party.  The worst case is that she tries to triangulate, we all stay pissed-off, and she loses her base too. No points.
TOTAL: 8/25 Few redeeming qualities, and a whole lot of nope. She's fighting hard to be the worst candidate in the race.

Kevin O'Leary

Fiscal: 4/6 Obviously, this is his signature policy, and I like most of it. Thing is, while he's got a ton of micro-policy, there's some weird gaps on the big stuff. For example, while he dives into accelerated capital cost allowances and regulatory requirements for capital gains tax exemptions, he doesn't discuss balancing the budget that I can see. For the hard-nosed businessman, that's a really strange oversight, unless he intends to go full Trudeau with the deficit.
Social: 2/4 Not a lot here - the only thing I can see is a bit of immigration policy shoehorned into his economic plan. It's not bad policy, but it's nothing special. The 2 rating is mostly because my gut feeling on him is that he'll be decent, not because of anything he's actually said.
Foreign: 0/4 There is literally nothing on his website that I can find on foreign policy, so I'll judge him by some of his statements that have hit the public consciousness - namely, "there is nothing proud about being a warrior", and repeating the old lie that Canada is all about peacekeeping. He simply doesn't get it.
Governance: -3/3 All of my other ratings are zero or higher, but I feel like I need to make an exception here. His policy on governance is not merely bad, not merely wrong. It is actively terrifying. I can't believe that I need to say this, but in a free and democratic nation, we do not throw CEOs in jail for not following arbitrary government diktats, particularly not on 20-year targets for carbon emissions(because seriously, how many CEOs even have a 20-year tenure to begin with?). It's increasingly been my conviction that Mr. Wonderful doesn't even know what the job he's running for is, and ham-fisted idiocy like this is one big reason why. Also, insofar as he discusses the more traditional topics of governance, he's all about twisting the arms of provincial governments at every opportunity, which is pretty horrible policy in its own right. His famous open letters are all aimed at Premiers - he doesn't have a direct attack on Trudeau posted, but he has direct attacks on Wynne and McNeil on his website.
Decency: 2/3 For all that he plays an asshole on television, he actually hasn't done badly here. I like he fact that he's willing to defend the morality of capitalism, even if I wish we had a less abrasive priest. He gets compared to Trump a lot, but he doesn't have Trump's abusive streak, and hasn't engaged in a bunch of wild attacks on random people. The fact that he's half-Lebanese probably also helps here - the most obvious way for a right-winger to be a dick these days is ragging on Middle Easterners, and he's naturally disinclined to do very much of that. Much as attacking Premiers isn't the job of the PM, it's way better than just attacking everyone who crosses your path.
Electability: 1/3 In a sensible world, this number would be zero. We do not live in a sensible world. As I said above, I think the alt-right strongman fetish will die out as it becomes clear that they can't deliver the goods, but then I thought Trump was doomed too.
Unity: 1/2 He's offended a lot of people, but he throws enough bones to enough factions that I think he can hold it together well enough as long as he can win elections. But if he loses, the jackals will be out in force. He's promised to quit if he loses, so maybe we'll be spared the worst of it, but lord knows he's lost a lot of times in his life and never quit.
TOTAL: 7/25 If he actually had a reasonable sense of what the job he was running for was(and was willing to colour within the lines), he'd be way, way higher. But I can't go for someone who's so enthusiastic about ruling with an iron fist.

Erin O'Toole

Fiscal: 4/6 He's got some good stuff here, but also some more problematic proposals. On the good side, he's got concrete proposals for tax cuts, balanced budgets, and regulatory burden reduction, all of which I like(though no tax simplification, sadly). On the bad side, the "Generation Kickstart" idea has been around for ages, and while it looks appealing on the surface, it's a huge giveaway to a narrow part of the population, which is not generally good policy. He's also proposing some odd mortgage changes that I don't think generally make a lot of sense - encouraging 7+ year mortgages is a big part of the US's historical banking problems, and I'd rather we stay away from it.
Social: 4/4 Aside from Chong's carbon tax, he's got the best environmental policy I've seen from anyone running - he takes it seriously, instead of trying to pretend the issue doesn't exist, and is running on the historical Conservative record(which is actually pretty good) - that's a good way to rehabilitate our reputation long-term, as well as being decent policy. His immigration policy is reasonable, as is his law and order policy, with both having respect for security without resorting to walling off the world - heck, he even wants to eliminate civil asset forfeiture and demand a criminal conviction before assets are seized. This is good stuff.
Foreign: 4/4 Not quite as detailed as Alexander's plan, but in much the same vein - pretty standard conservative approaches of supporting Israel, opposing Putin, UN skepticism, and so on. That'd be good for 3 or so, but the fact that he's the one supporting CANZUK(and, inexplicably, the only one supporting it) brings him up to a perfect score. CANZUK's not a perfect deal, but it's very good, and has huge public support, which is a rare thing for a free trade deal to enjoy, never mind a free movement deal as well. We'd be fools not to run with it.
Governance: 2/3 Not a lot here, but in general he sounds like he's on the right page. His healthcare policy respects provincial jurisdiction passably well, and he seems to generally understand how government works in practice.
Decency: 3/3 I've seen no particular concerns with him. He seems like a decent person, he hasn't been baiting the alt-right, and he's addressed a lot of tough issues in his policy stances with a deft hand.
Electability: 1/3 He's more or less in the mold of Harper when he started - he's a boring white dude who speaks half-hearted French, and nobody outside the party cares much about Ontario vs Alberta or military experience. He won't light the world on fire, but he'll be quietly competent and not offend too many people, and we could do worse. Still, we could also do better.
Unity: 2/2 I can't imagine anyone in the party having a problem with him.
TOTAL: 20/25 A very strong candidate, and I'd be happy if he won.

Andrew Scheer

Fiscal: 3/6 Lots of sound-bite policies, but not much of substance. Balancing the budget is good, as is removing corporate welfare(though the juxtaposition of the anti-corporate-welfare and pro-supply management pieces being adjacent on his policies page is pretty funny), but everything else is Harper-style microscopic tax credits to perceived swing voters. Home heating tax exemptions, private school tax credits, forestry research incentives, et tedious cetera. No broad-based tax cuts whatsoever, and no details on his balanced budget proposal.
Social: 2.5/4 He's actually walked a fairly fine line here on the usual issues people think of when they hear "social policy" - he's appealing to the Bible-thumpers without being one of them. A lot of 'respect for parents" and "religious freedom" stuff, no ham-fisted abortion talk. It's not my dream policy, but for a would-be leader of a party with a strong social conservative wing, it's an eminently reasonable approach. His support for property rights in the Constitution is also excellent. His justice policy is thinner than I'd expect, but decent. His environmental policy is a bit of a joke, though - the only concrete proposal is a thinly-veiled attack on the mayor of Montreal. Overall, I can live with this, but it's nothing special.
Foreign: 3/4 Not as detailed as some, but it's all sensible. Support for the Ukrainians without sabre-rattling towards a nuclear war, the usual support for Israel and opposition to ISIS, enthusiasm about Asian democracies like India that other candidates haven't really talked much about(which I think is sensible - much as China is prominent these days, I think India has a similar amount of potential overall), and a pro-free-trade stance.
Governance: 2/3 He's a fan of MPs having more free votes in unspecified ways, and claims to have supported this as Speaker(which I don't know the history of, but I'll take him at his word). His other big proposals here are bringing back the FNFTA, which is good policy but tends to feel acrimonious(for some strange reason, natives are skeptical of Ottawa telling them what to do, especially when it's pushed by a party they haven't historically had good relations with), and punishing a lack of campus free speech with grant denial(which isn't the worst idea, but which feels really ham-fisted, and sets a terrible precedent for political manipulation by controlling purse-strings). It's not bad, but it's not that good either.
Decency: 3/3 He's done nothing wrong here that I've seen. Given that this category is mostly a way to punish race-baiting, demagoguery, and other such scummy approaches to politics, that gives him full marks.
Electability: 1.5/3 He's bilingual, young, experienced in Parliament, and well-spoken, which are all good, but he's not terribly impressive otherwise. He has all the charisma of a rock - he seems to be running as Harper 2.0, but the thing about Harper is that everyone knew he was really smart. Scheer is as bland as Harper, but it's the blandness of someone who's never seen anything interesting, not the blandness of someone who nerds out over things nobody cares about - given that a big part of the job of a politician is caring about things on the public's behalf, that's a problem. On top of that, his website has almost as many silly little grammatical errors and other such mistakes as some of the C-listers, and while I'll forgive that from the ones running a shoestring campaign, a guy who's spamming my Facebook with ads about how he's the frontrunner should be able to do better.
Unity: 2/2 He is literally the most generic possible Conservative while still being a human. Anyone who leaves the party over him was never ours to begin with.
TOTAL: 17/25 As is totally unsurprising, the blandwich scores exactly the same as a generic Conservative.

(Next: The B-List)

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