The Conservative Leadership: Who's Next?


So, we’ve had our election, and Stephen Harper has gone down to defeat. Congratulations to the second Prime Minister Trudeau. Enjoy your honeymoon. Now comes the hard part of managing expectations. It is good to hear that the long form census will be reinstated, and Statistics Canada made more independent, however.

And Harper has done the expected thing and stepped down as Conservative party leader, setting up a leadership convention and a battle for the soul of the Conservative party. Ever in love of the horse race, reporters are wondering, who’s next? Who will run?

Well, fresh off my prescient prediction of the election results, I guess I should have a go at reading the tea leaves. Who will run? Maybe Lisa Raitt. Maybe Pierre Pollivere. Likely Jason Kenny. Peter MacKay may make a go of it, but he won’t win. Jim Prentice scotched his chances by killing the PC dynasty in Alberta. But who will win?

As I said, no guts, no glory. I say, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall.

Called to be a pundit following Stephen Harper’s concession speech, premier Wall immediately fended off rumours that he’d been quietly taking French lessons. He fell on the old trope of saying “I have the best job in the world, why would I leave?” But Wall is nothing if not a savvy politician. He’s got to know that he’d be an exceptionally strong candidate.

He’s a successful and popular provincial premier. He’s a solid conservative beloved by the base, and he’s an adept statesman. He has a decent national profile, and has proven that he works well with others. Best of all, he has no immediate connection with the Harper government or its controversies. Outside of Saskatchewan, few people know about what controversies he has.

And he’s been the premier of Saskatchewan for eight years. He’s rapidly reaching the point where people start to mutter disturbing phrases like, “time for a change”. His party, while still wildly popular, has seen its popular support drop as the party proceeds to the April 2016 election. If there’s ever a time to hand over the reins of the Saskatchewan Party to the next generation, it’s now, and quite coincidentally, a new job opportunity has just opened up.

So, my money is on Wall to bow to the “groundswell” of interest and try for higher office. And, frankly, the Conservatives could do a lot worse than elect him.

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