Kevin O'Leary has dropped out of the Conservative leadership race because, he says, he can't get support in Quebec. That was obvious on the day he announced his candidacy. Even though he was born in Montreal, he never lived outside Quebec's Anglophone bubble. But, Paul Wells writes, there is another reason why O'Leary's candidacy failed:
The lesson, which a lot of people seem slow to learn, is that conspicuous success over here does not constitute any kind of guarantee over there. Politics is its own set of skills and challenges. If you can’t speak in a way that inspires at least part of your audience, if you can’t make others want to give their time and energy, if you can’t make hard choices, stand withering abuse, organize your way out of a paper bag—if you can’t do politics, then politics doesn’t care what you can do.
So where does O'Leary's departure leave the Conservatives? Still confused:
Is Maxime Bernier now the heir-presumptive? Maybe. This would be a remarkable outcome: handing the party of Stephen Harper to a man who believes that, on the scale of what’s possible and needed to restrict the role of government in the nation’s life, Harper did nothing significant. If Harperism was about a partial rehabilitation of social conservatism on one hand, and a steely incrementalism on the other, Bernier rejects both hands. On social questions he’s a libertarian. On economic questions he has no interest in moving slowly.
If not Max, then who? Andrew Scheer (medium-right) and Erin O’Toole (rightish) have been fighting for the mantle of Harperite continuity. Each of their campaigns is sure they see a path to victory. The rest of the field is a mix of quirky gambles (maybe Conservatives want a carbon tax! Maybe Kellie Leitch isn’t a self-animated golem!), social conservative proof-of-concept candidacies, and tragically misfiring former ambassadors, whom I won’t name but, you know, Is-Chray Alexander-way.
They are a fractious bunch. But what are we to make of O'Leary's bid for power? Like Donald Trump's presidency, it was an ego trip. Unfortunately, Trump was elected. In O'Leary's case, Canadians dodged a bullet.
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