Sunday, November 28, 2010

George Abbott is Good to be Lucky

Christy Clark's steady and deserved fall from being the Deputy Premier and Vaughn Palmer-anointed "future of the Liberal Party" in 2000-2001 has been followed by Carole Taylor's quasi-retirement and Colin Hanson's Icarus-like doom from flying too high and too close Gordon Campbell and the HST.  While Christy Clark remains popular within the party and has had a high public profile, she has been a repeated failure, whether as Education minister, one of the engineers of Stephane Dion's leadership, or as an impatient candidate for the Vancouver mayorlty. That just leaves five serious contenders: Kevin Falcon, Mike De Jong, Rich Coleman, Moira Stilwell, and George Abbott.

Moira Stilwell benefits from being both a woman and  being relatively unknown--a serious advantage in a party that has been in power for  nearly a decade and is in need of a facelift.   But much depends on the personal relationships between the remaining candidates. Would their mutual respect and insistence that success in cabinet portfolios cause them to pull for each other on the final ballot, or would mutual animosity cause them to pull behind someone else?  I think that if the personality clashes were that serious, they would have been obvious by now. That probably rules out Stilwell making it to the last round.  But, of the final four,  Kevin Falcon would seem to be the most compromised by his proximity to Gordon Campbell. His wings were not burned, like Hanson's, but they were badly singed.

So that just leaves Coleman, De Jong and Abbott.  Rich is the least telegenic of the three, and made a big splash when as Minister of Forests his brother became rich by having his land taken out of the Forest Land Reserve.  That just leaves De Jong and Abbott on the final ballot.

My hunch is that De Jong, who along with Farrell-Collins constituted the "fifth column" that replaced Gordon Wilson and David Mitchell with the Campbell crew way back in 1993, has the most favours to call.  But my sense is that  the avuncular Abbott, who has been quiet, competent, has more teflon and has probably tread upon fewer toes, will appeal to the Liberal Party's urge for politically expedient image renovation. Lucky, to be sure. But he also  worked hard to get into this position.

So that's my best guess, right now. Unless the 65-year-old Carole Taylor tosses down  her Chancellor's robes and makes a case for being the "caretaker" premier for the next 2-6 years, I'm putting my money on George Abbott.

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