The Next Prime Minister

A week from today Canadians will find out who will be the new leader of the Conservative Party (and potentially our next Prime Minister). I for one will be thankful that with the vote the email barrage will stop.

Our Prime Minister is not elected. He or she is the leader of the party able to command the confidence of the House of Commons. We do not vote for him or her directly, as is the case in some presidential systems. The Prime minister doesn’t even have to be a Member of Parliament, though he or she usually is. Facing the Official Opposition in Parliament is art of our system of accountability.

(Americans don’t have direct democracy either, they just think they do. When voters in the US mark an X beside a name on the presidential ballot they are not voting for that person but rather for a member of the Electoral College which will meet after the vote to choose a president. I’d be willing to bet there are some Electoral College members today who wish they could change their vote.)

Canadians can have a say though in who leads our political parties. Join the party and get a ballot. So, wanting to have some say in the matter, I joined the Conservative Party.

The leadership race has been on for more than a year. I waited until December to join and am thankful that I did. While a few candidates dropped off along the way, realizing they couldn’t win, there are still 14 names on the ballot (Kevin O’Leary dropped out after the ballots were printed.)

All the candidates have been vying for my vote. Most of the communication has been though email. Lots of email.

I saved them all, thinking before I filled in my ballot I should read them and see what the candidates had to say about themselves and the issues. That’s only fair, right? It didn’t happen.

I filled out my ballot and mailed it in since I am not going to the convention next Saturday to vote in person. Yet I still have more than 650 emails from candidates that I haven’t opened. Reading them probably wouldn’t have influenced my decision.

Working in Parliament for the past decade, I have met many of those running for office. I could have met the rest of the candidates, but decided not to bother.

It’s a preferential ballot. I could choose up to 10 candidates, ranking them from one to ten. I found it tough to do.

There are two candidates that I probably wouldn’t vote for if they were the only names on the ballot. I’ve met them and been less than impressed.

That left me with 11 names to choose from, six of whom I have met and like as people. Policy positions needed to be considered also.

With that many names on the ballot, I expect it will take at least seven rounds before one candidate secures a majority. So I felt comfortable in making my first three choices people I have an affinity for but who are not (in my estimation) likely to be able to lead the party to victory in 2019. I want them to have a good showing, to be cabinet ministers, but don’t think they are ready yet to be Prime Minister.

My next choice was tough. That is the person I expect to make it at least into the top four, and maybe the top two. It was a tough choice. But I eventually managed to decide. I didn’t fill all ten slots.

No matter who comes out on top, the country wins. We’ll find out a week from today.

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