Paddy was uncharacteristically late for our weekly coffee.
“What kept you?” I asked as he put down his coffee and pulled out his chair.
“I was in the car listening to the tail end of a couple of pundits talking about Pierre Karl Peladeau entering Quebec politics and declaring that he’s a separatist,” Paddy answered.
“What was their opinion?” I asked him.
“They figured his separatist views would hurt Marois’ chances for a majority government, not help her.”
“I agree,” I told him.
“Didn’t you say on the radio one time that Canadian politics are boring?”
“What I actually said,” I defended myself, “was that compared to US politics Canadian politics are boring.”
“Do you still believe that?” Paddy challenged.
“Generally speaking, yes,” I admitted, “but Canadian politics are certainly not boring on any level right now.”
“What about Redford’s resignation in Alberta?” Paddy asked. “I heard she was an arrogant bully.”
“I heard that, too, and the evidence is pretty strong that she was completely devoid of people skills. And, of course there’s her spending problem.”
“Speaking of spending,” Paddy went on, “what do you think of Kathleen Wynne promising that she’ll have a ‘steady hand’ as premier of Ontario?”
“My guess is that she’ll keep her hand steady by dipping it in my pocket.”
“Can she be beaten?” Paddy asked.
“I think it’ll be another minority; but it’s anyone’s guess as to which party will form it. The problem is that neither Andrea Howarth nor Tim Hudak have exhibited strong leadership qualities; and I can’t imagine that Wynne can win a majority after McGuinty’s wasting billions on eHealth, Ornge and the gas plant closings.”
“But,” Paddy said, “she’s trying to distance herself from McGuinty’s debacles.”
“She really can’t. She was a senior cabinet minister while McGuinty wasted billions. The gas plant waste, which was especially egregious, took place during the last election campaign and was strictly to save a couple of Liberal seats. She was a senior member of McGuinty’s re-election team, so how can she say she had no part in it?”
“You’ve got strong PEI ties,” Paddy observed, “what about Premier Ghiz? From what I read and hear he isn’t very popular.”
“Same as here in Ontario,” I said, “he has a poor record, but is probably safe because there’s no opposition. The Conservatives don’t even have a leader, and the NDP is virtually non-existent.”
“Were you surprised by finance minister Flaherty’s resignation?” was Paddy’s next question.
“I was surprised by the timing, especially when it appears that he hasn’t decided what he’s going to do.”
“Maybe it was his disagreement with Harper over income-splitting,” Paddy opined.
“I’m not sure about that,” I replied, “but I do think something triggered the timing.”
“Do you think he was a good finance minister?” Paddy asked.
“I think he was a great finance minister,” I told him.
“But some of the things he did were very Liberal-like,” Paddy protested.
“And nearly everything Paul Martin did while finance minister was Conservative-like,” I countered.
“As a Bay Street capitalist, “Paddy mused, “you must be happy with the appointment of Joe Oliver as Flaherty’s replacement.”
“I like that he has a financial background,” I admitted, “but his track record as a cabinet minister has been spotty. His people skills seem to be on the same level as Alison Redford’s.”
“Do you think Harper is in trouble?” Paddy inquired.
“I think he is,” I responded. “And it’s not so much because of what he’s done as PM as it is because of the way he’s done it. It looks to me like we’re headed for a federal minority in the next election.”
“Liberal, NDP, or Conservative?” Paddy prodded.
“My guess right now is a Conservative minority.”
“But,” Paddy pointed out, “Trudeau is looking pretty good in the polls and Mulcair is the current leader of the opposition.”
“A year is a very long time in politics,” I reminded him. “I don’t think Mulcair is a real threat. Most of his seats are in Quebec and were won by Jack Layton. There’s quite a contrast between the charismatic Layton and the perpetually cranky Mulcair, so I doubt the Quebec success will be repeated....”
“But, what about Trudeau’s charisma?” Paddy interrupted.
“There’s a thin line between charisma and a con job,” I suggested. “I haven’t seen much substance from Justin. There’s a big difference between a pose and a conviction.”
“Well,” Paddy said, “we’ve been dealing with federal and provincial politics. What about the mayoralty race in Toronto?”
“There’ll be nothing boring about Toronto politics as long as Rob Ford is around,” I observed.
“There are about forty people running aren’t there?” Paddy suggested.
“It’s in the thirties,” I agreed, “but probably only three serious candidates: Ford, Chow and Tory.”
“Good Lord!” Paddy exclaimed. “You can’t possibly think Ford has a chance; and what about Stintz?”
“I think Ford has enough support that he’ll split the vote on the right, which makes him a serious candidate; and Stintz will suffer the most from that split,” I told him.
“Do you think Tory has a chance?”
“A chance? Yes. But he’s a squishy waffler who tries to please everybody; and the sure result of trying to please everybody is that you’ll end up pleasing nobody.”
“Sounds like Chow is a winner then,” Paddy observed.
“If Ford and Stintz stay in, and I can’t conceive of any situation in which Ford would drop out, with one exception Chow probably wins.”
“What’s the exception?”
“I don’t think Chow will do well in her campaign in general and in debates in particular.”
“She’s never met someone else’s dollar that she couldn’t wait to spend, and I don’t think she really has any workable specifics. Like most leftists, she doesn’t think things through and therefore doesn’t understand the difference between an intention and an outcome”
“Is Rob Ford the worst thing that’s ever happened to Toronto politics?” Paddy asked.
“Nope,” I said, “his brother Doug is.”