First Impressions

“It’s great to have a vision but you have to be able to actually get things done.”

That is the challenge facing Conservative Party leadership hopeful Leona Alleslev. Can she convince enough party members that her vision of Canada is the right one (pun intended), and then convince Canadian voters to allow her to implement that vision?

I think I heard somewhere that most of the leadership candidates were in Western Canada this week, which may be why I haven’t been invited to any campiagn events. Well, I did get invited to meet Jean Charest, but I already had tickets to see Blue Rodeeo that evening.

Leona Alleslev was in Ottawa a week ago for the official launch of her campaign, though she had previously announced on social media that she was in the race. She only has a month to raise the $300,000 necessary for her campaign to be official.

In the United States politicians have an undending flow of cash available. In Canada we have strict election (and leadership) campaign financing laws. The maximum that any individual can donate to a campaign is $1,675. Corporate donations are illegal.

(Memo to my American friends: you might want to try something similar for your elections. It makes them difficult to buy, and levels the playing field for candidates. Billionaires playing vanity games can’t finance their candidacies – they have to be able to convince voters they are worthy of financial support and votes.)

Alleslev has an impressive resume. She was a military officer, a corporate executive, owned her own business and served a couple of terms as a Member of Parliament. I’m becoming increasingly convinced we need to look for leadership beyond those who are career politicians. Real-world experience can be useful when dealing with real-world problems. 

Listening to Alleslev at her campaign launch, I couldn’t help but be impressed. While many politicians excel in the production of verbal fertilizer, she was straightforward and honest. When she didn’t know the answer to a question, she said so. When she felt her answer might change with more study on the topic, she said that too. She took pains to make sure she spoke with every person in the room. She knows she’s not considered a frontrunner and she cant afford to miss the opportunity to make a new friend who might vote for her.

Her path to victory though is going to be challenging. Alleslev’s appeal is probably stronger with the populace as a whole than it is to a party that seems to have moved ever to the right in recent years. Her team will have to sell a lot of memberships. 

Her military background may be her biggest advantage at a time when many Canadians are focused on the war in Ukraine. She knows how much our miltary has been neglected by successive governments – and brings a different perspective on how to fix the situation. “I swore an oath to serve and defend this country,” she says. You feel she is determined to follow through.

Alleslev’s entry into what has become a crowded leadership contest is, I think, a welcome one. She’s bilingual, understands the issues and can put forward a vision of where she thinks Canada should be headed and how it can get there.

It will be interesting to see if her campaign catches fire, or whether it is too late to challenge the frontrunners.



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