Friday, January 24, 2014

Kathy Dunderdale and Michael Chong

A wise old political scientist (there are some) once told me, apropos of political leaders' resignations: "They always stay too long."

The Canadian leadership system makes it almost impossible to remove a leader who wants to stay, without the kind of long, slow, party-destroying battle the Liberals went through when Paul Martin wanted to become leader. A leader who wants to defy caucus and party to remain in power usually can, and my WOPS was summarizing the result of that failure of accountability.

So: Kathy Dunderdale of Newfoundland and Labrador. She's in the middle of a majority term she won after succeeding Danny Williams, but there is trouble in the polls, some MLAs grouse, and suddenly she is gone.

Is this some outbreak of caucus authority, a down home ad hoc application of the Reform Bill?  Doesn't seem likely. If Dunderdale had been determined to stay, the caucus would surely have buckled under. It seems she just decided she'd be gone.  One is tempted toward crude gender analysis: the macho stubbornness that keeps 'em too long is maybe just another guy thing.

But NL would have been better off if there had been a formal caucus review, of the kind Michael Chong's Reform Bill proposes. Was there genuine and substantial lack of confidence among the majority of elected members in the Conservative caucus about her leadership. Since there is no review process, Newfoundlanders will never know. The premier just went for the walk in the snow and presto....

Seems NL has one of those dumb fixed-election dates and as usual it is creating some uncertainty about when the next election might be held.
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