What a silly joke it is to see Susan Riley of the Ottawa Citizen listing Quebec Premier Jean Charest as one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s potential successors. She sees the Liberal premier as being “associated with moderate conservatism,” whatever that means.
True, Mr. Charest was once the leader of the federal Progressive Conservative Party, but he quit in 1998 to become leader of the Quebec Liberal Party. And, since 2006 he has often been like a thorn in the shoe of the Conservative government.
He may even have played a significant role in preventing the Conservatives from gaining a majority in the October 2008 federal election. His sharp rebuke of the Conservative government’s cuts in arts funding and its plan to stiffen youth prison sentences did much to kill the Conservatives’ chances of making major headway in Quebec—a key to being able to form a majority government.
Charest might once have been able to claim he was a right-wing federalist, but he has become very much a centre-left politician who looks a lot more like former Quebec premier, Robert Bourassa, and a lot less like Stephen Harper’s potential successor.
A return to federal politics by Mr. Charest seems unlikely, at least, not as leader of the Tories. The old Progressive Conservative Party is a thing of the past, as are many of those PCs who believed one could talk like a conservative but act like a liberal—John Tory was the most recent conservative leader to get that message loud and clear. And the Wildrose Alliance in Alberta seems to be sending a similar message to Premier Ed Stelmach.
Jean Charest does not act like a conservative, he doesn’t even talk like one, both of which are necessary characteristics if one has aspirations to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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