Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mississauga Erindale Speculation

With Bob Dechert becoming the first elected federal Conservative in Mississauga in 20 years, his insider status, (a party insider, former National Director of the Canadian Alliance, representing the Alliance during merger talks, and given the green-light for a third run, unlike Phil Green) and his economics background, more then a couple sources have suggested his name in a re-vamped Tory cabinet, potentially as high as International Trade. So lets get some speculation done, and the plus-minus on Dechert getting into cabinet, and his possible role:

-First elected Conservative in Mississauga in 2 decades, if the Tories want to get a majority, they will need to hold on Mississauga Erindale, and pick up other seats in the Peel Region they consider marginal, like Mississauga South and Brampton West. A Peel cabinet Minister would help in this regard.
-Dechert won by the narrowest of margins, a cabinet spot would help bulk up his chances at re-election.
-Dechert is a party loyalist, given that some have speculated Harper might pull a Bill Davis, Dechert would be supportive of the leader, be it Harper or another.
-His economic background and international experience would be a good fit for International Trade or Industry or at the very least, Parl. Sec. or Sec. State to them. (although it seems Jim Prentice is probably going to stay on in that role)

-The biggest minus against Dechert being given a full portfolio is Lisa Raitt, newly elected MP for Halton. Raitt is a relatively high profile woman with urban experience representing a GTA riding; exactly what the Conservatives needed, and a good potential regional minister for the GTA West. Raitt should be a given for any new cabinet, and given that Halton and Mississauga-Erindale border each other, having both in cabinet might throw off regional balance somewhere else.
-Another gender based minus is that the open portfolio Dechert might be best suited for, International Trade, has had lots of rumours flying around lately that Harper wants to place a woman in it, with the most suggested names being Raitt and Alice Wong (who has the added bonus of being from urban BC and ethnic)
-Ontario balance. Of the current Ontario ministers, Tony Clement and John Baird are very likely to stay on in cabinet, although perhaps in different roles. Jim Flaherty in Finance is a bet to stay in his powerful position, Peter van Loan might get shuffled out of House Leader, but will probably stay in Cabinet, while Diane Finley will probably stay (albeit in perhaps a reduced role) thanks to her husband. The only Ontario cabinet ministers who might get moved around are Rob Nicholson in Justice, after the poor reaction to the Tory crime plan in Quebec, and Bev Oda, likely to be replaced by Alice Wong as Harper attempt at tokenism. Add Lisa Raitt to the mix, and you dont have a whole lot of wiggle room for Dechert.

My prediction: Dechert gets either Parliamentary Secretary to whoever the Minister of International Trade ends up being, or a Sec. of State appointment for an economic related portfolio.

Now of course, with an election possibly only another 2 years away, the question has to be asked, who will run for the Liberals against Dechert? Some possibilities:

Omar Alghabra
I think Omar making another run for it might be the most likely, assuming he wants it again. Omar was criticized by some however for spending not enough time in the riding, which might make it difficult to knock off an incumbent, particularly one which might get a cabinet post that will have him...out of the riding a lot. He already has the infrastructure in place, however, he might face a wild card or too.

Harinder Takhar
Takhar, however, I dont see as being one of those. I cant see him giving up a cabinet post to fight for what would probably be a tough nomination (if history is any guide) and a tough fight to even get elected. If he is maybe shuffled out of cabinet in the future he might think about it, but I cant see Takhar jumping from provincial to federal, although some jumping from one level to another is definitely possible for some others.

Steve Mahoney/Katie Mahoney
This is where things start to get interesting. Steve is the former MP for the area, and has remained in the public eye as Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, while his wife Katie is a city councillor for a Ward which is part of the riding. Either one would be very credible candidates. The interesting part is that both have had speculation about runs for mayor of Mississauga at some point, and both would be credible candidates in that as well. The question is, if they did want to run for mayor, when? Hazel will be mayor for exactly as long as she wants, and more then a few people have suggested it is unlikely she would ever resign voluntarily, and her dying in office is a very real possibility. If a special election happens before the next federal election, be sure to see one of these two running municipally, if not, having one of them seek the federal nod would not be surprising at all. However, the the Mahoneys could be further motivated to seek whatever course of action by the ultimate wildcard:

Carolyn Parrish
She beat Dechert once, in 2004, remains fairly popular locally (as given her election to City Council) and has a good network within the City. Parrish wants to be mayor, and would run in a second if given the option, so even if no one else volunteers for Mississauga Erindale, I can see her staying out and focusing on municipal politics. The Mahoney-Parrish dynamics come into play here, as while a Mahoney is almost certain to run for mayor, they might not run for the federal nomination. Parrish could probably get the nomination if she wanted, the question is, what does she want?


MississaugaPeter said...

You definitely know your stuff.

Omar did run a pathetic campaign this time around. And so did another elected Liberal MP in Brampton. On the other hand, I was impressed with Paul Szabo and Bonnie Crombie (definitely showed why she deserved the nomination).

Anonymous said...

Omar is done.

He ran a lousy campaign and spent VERY little in his riding during the past 3 years.

He was so invloved with Kennedy's Leadership Campaign that he forgot the folks back home.

One of the Mahoney's would be great!

The Moderate Maverick said...

I'm pretty surprised that while Omar maintained a strong profile in the House (I really enjoyed his questioning over the Linda Kean situation and Chalk River) that he had paid little attention to his riding, despite the fact that I got bi-weekly newsletters via email from his constituency office. Also, does he even live in the riding?

But if the best the Liberals have to offer as an alternative are Takhar, Parrish, or Steve Mahoney then we're in serious trouble. They all have ties to the former Chretien/Martin regime, and Takhar is not exactly a major figure in my book.

Katie Mahoney would probably be the best among your four selections, and although Steve Mahoney was defeated in that 2004 nomination, I think his work on the WSIB has been strong and steady. I highly doubt he'll be thinking of leaving that plum post anytime soon.

The Liberal Bag said...

The Liberals could go and get someone completely new, but I think given the probable relatively short time between now and the next election, and that Dechert will become more high-profile, the Liberals are going to want to go after someone with name recognition, which would probably mean either Omar taking another run at it, or one of the Mahoney's.

Miles Lunn said...

I don't know much about the local campaigns but either Alghabra ran a much worse one than Paul Szabo or the Tories ran a better one in Mississauga-Erindale than Mississauga South or a combination of both. Mississauga South is definitely a more favourable riding for the Tories than Mississauga-Erindale. In fact Mississauga-Erindale is only marginally more conservative than Mississauga-Streetsville which wasn't even close. Another cabinet minister from the GTA who is a possible choice is Peter Kent. He was the closest the Tories got to the 416 so if they are serious about breaking into the 416, he would seem like a logical choice. Off course considering Harper's disdain for the media, he might get a pass much like Garth Turner did who was definitely more qualified for cabinet than many others chosen. I hope they drop Jim Flaherty as finance minister, although I agree it probably won't happen. The only other possibility there is Jim Prentice and having the top two positions coming from Calgary wouldn't look good in terms of optics.

The Moderate Maverick said...

If I could add a few more words in about Bob Dechert. Obviously, it's too early to criticize him because he hasn't been in the job too long, but you have to give him credit for his perserverance. If he had lost again, it would have been his third try for elected office, and obviously his GOTV operation was better by 397 votes. So I'll give Dechert that much.

Plus, if we had to have some Conservative representation in Mississauga, then I'd prefer that person to actually be a Conservative and have been elected as one instead of him crossing the floor pretending he was a Conservative when he was before a Liberal. Yeah, I worked the Streetsville campaign as you can probably tell.

The Moderate Maverick said...

Miles, I'm not sure the Conservatives' Mississauga South campaign was any better than Phil Green's 2006 attempt, for example. The Tory vote actually numerically and percentage-wise dropped in 2008 than it did in 2006, when Green won 20,888 votes (40.0%). Hugh Arrison won only 18,366 votes (38%). So either some Tories stayed home, or some of those votes for the environmentally conscious Phil Green went to the Green Party, maybe even the NDP.

As for Szabo, I think this may be his last campaign. He took in 3,000 votes less than he did in 06 and managed to increase his margin of victory by 22 votes. I think it may be soon that the Tories will take back Mississauga South, if Szabo happens to retire.