by Phillip Blancher
SOUTH DUNDAS — What a week in politics. First John Baird leaves the federal scene, provincial Progressive Conservative leadership hopefuls Vic Fedeli and Lisa MacLeod quit, and speculation runs wild on what McLeod will do next. My suggestion for her next step is, do nothing.
MacLeod, as early as last Wednesday, was still fundraising for her leadership bid, with a looming deadline by the party to cough-up a $50,000 payment to continue the run to be Christine Elliott’s second-in-command. A futile campaign that is quickly becoming an insider (Elliott) vs outsider (Brown) race. The opportunity of running federally and being close to home is very tempting, rightfully so. However the opportunism are as clear as glass and a good reason to do nothing.
First, if a by-election is called before May 1st, the old riding boundary of Ottawa-West Nepean would still exist, but flouts the fact that the boundary is changing. The history of Conservative wins in that riding is not long, nor will the new riding of Nepean be a cake-walk. Calling a by-election to take advantage of “winning conditions” smacks of political opportunism for the Prime Minister, a calculated risk he may not take.
Second, it makes logical sense to run local and work local, except for that pesky commitment that MacLeod made in June when she won the seat for the PC’s at Queen’s Park. She has been doing the job for over 10 years, so it is not new that the commuting to Toronto is tough, that there are lots of hours involved, etcetera. The voters of her provincial riding voted her in because they wanted her, she should fulfill her commitment to her riding.
Third, it smacks of taking your toys home when you don’t get what you want. Christine Elliott is the front-runner for the PC Leadership, MacLeod is not. She left the race and pledged her support to Elliott’s campaign, she cannot quit now. On her campaign website, MacLeod writes, “Together, we can make Ontario the place you and your family deserve. Together we can Believe.” But if she bails on the party after dropping out of the leadership race and pledging support to Elliott, it shows she does not believe her own words.
In the end, the choice to fill John Baird’s shoes as a federal MP is tempting. A chance to sit in government instead of wallowing away for three more years in opposition. A chance to come home to your family every night after work, instead of just on the weekends. A chance to flee what is shaping up to be a feckless opposition opposing a feckless government in Toronto. All very tempting. But MacLeod was elected MPP for her riding, and that is a four year term. She should serve it out, the optics are too clear for her motives if she does not.