The Conservative leadership race passed a critical milestone this week, with the cutoff for new party memberships. It was also an opportunity for any of the 14 — yes, that’s FOURTEEN — candidates to come to what little sense they have and drop out.

Montgomery Burns

And as of this writing, no one has. Fourteen people, all of whom think they can win the leadership of Canada’s no. 2 political party. Surely, there has to be someone injecting a dose of reality to at least half of the fourteen. Isn’t there someone telling Deepak Obhari that he’s wasting his time? Apparently, sadly, not.

So, who’s the front runner? Hard to tell. Kevin O’Leary, the reality TV show star and part-time Canadian, is sucking up most of the oxygen. He’s a great talker who just oozes confidence (a.k.a arrogance), but he’s shockingly ignorant of how the government works. He said this week he would use the “notwithstanding” clause of the constitution to send those seeking asylum back to the U.S. It took about four seconds for experts to weigh in with the fact that the “notwithstanding” clause cannot be used in that kind of situation. He also launched a blistering tirade against Rachael Notley. He vowed to “go to war” against her, calling her the “nightmare dark lord”, calling her economic plan “deranged madness”, calling her a “toxic cocktail of mediocrity and incompetence.”

Like I said, he’s a great talker. But this kind of talk is not befitting to a potential leader of a Canadian political party. It would work well with Republicans — and did — but it won’t fly here with the vast Canadian public.

O’Leary claims to have signed up 35,000 new members. The vile Kellie Leitch, who would destroy the Conservative party if she won, claims 30,000 members.  But does this mean they’re the leaders in the leadership race? Nope, because the leadership race rules are like a maze with no exits. Here are the rules, which I just copied and pasted from the web since I can’t really figure them out.

Instead of ‘one member, one vote,’ every riding in the country is allocated 100 points no matter how many members they have, and the points are allocated based on the share of the vote a candidate gets. They need a minimum of 16,901 points to win.

On top of that, members don’t have to just vote for one candidate. It’s a ranked ballot, so members can select up to nine names from the list of 14, which means it’s likely to take more than one ballot to choose a winner on May 27.

So, with this system, nobody knows who is leading. What’s for certain is that a Kevin O’Leary-led Conservative party would be a disaster. The blueprint for destroying O’Leary was written, with delicious irony, by the Stephen Harper Conservatives. When Michael Ignatief took over the Liberal party after years spent out of the country, they labeled him ‘Just Visiting’. O’Leary is, if anything, more of a tourist.

Kellie ‘Canadian values’ Leitch.

How about a Kellie Leitch (left) Conservative party? It would be a smouldering ruin after the next election, if it got that far. She had to explain why she was videotaped meeting with members of a radical anti-Muslim group this week, and her explanation was weak.

Then there’s Maxime Bernier, who is the Ron Swanson of Canadian politics, a government employee who hates government. His brainstorm this week was to use the Canadian Armed Forces to stop the flood (actually, trickle) of would-be refugees fleeing Donald Trump’s America. There are 6,416 km of border between Canada and the U.S., almost all of it unguarded. We have about 64,000 men and women in uniform, so things are going to be stretched pretty thin. And I don’t know if having a soldier standing guard in a deserted field between Manitoba and Minnesota is the best use of a soldier’s time.

There are reasonable, moderate, even electable candidates in this race (God, I hope so), and I deeply hope the Conservatives find one. A strong, functioning democracy needs strong parties and intelligent, electable leaders. If the Tories make a mistake in their leadership choice, then we’re in for many many years of one-party rule, and we all know how well the Liberal party handles unfettered power.

Carbon tax update

As you may recall, at the start of the year I received from the benevolent Rachael Notley a cheque for $150 as my rebate for her newly-instituted carbon tax (the actual name of it is the Alberta Climate Leadership adjustment rebate, a name which is clearly the product of an advertising agency). I mused at the time that it was ridiculous to give a rebate for money not yet spent; I thought creating the term ‘prebate’ would really catch on, but alas, it hasn’t. I also decided to keep careful track of how much the carbon tax has cost me and tally it up compared to how much I have received from the government. So now, with the first three months of the year over, I present my Carbon Tax Prebate Quarterly Report.

As you may recall from one paragraph ago, I started $150 to the good. Over the past three months, I kept track of every litre of gas purchased and every gigajoule of natural gas used, and tallied up the cost. The gasoline tax is 4.49 cents per litre, and the natural gas tax is $1.011. So far, the carbon tax has cost me $49.87, which means I’m still almost $100 to the good. So not only have I not cut back my consumption in any way, I have been rewarded for doing nothing. Love this carbon tax prebate!


Richard Nelson Bolles, 90, American writer famous for What Color Is Your Parachute? (Death, apparently, was on holidays this week.)



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