Like before, I thought it would be interesting to look at which individuals might replace the current crop of federal party leaders. This isn't a statistical or scientific list, so if you're looking for deep analytical insight, you've come to the wrong blog.
But, I digress. The Conservative Party, formed in 2003 after the bastard union of the Progressive Conservatives and the Reform/Canadian Alliance parties, has not had many leaders. In fact, it's really only had one, not counting the interim leader. That leader is, of course, Stephen Harper.
However, the Conservatives aren't lacking in alternate leadership, despite it being a mini-dictatorship. This, is my list of possible future leaders of the Conservative Party of Canada
Our affable Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, was a contender for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives back in 2003, just before the merger (of which he supported), coming in second to the supposedly "merger if necessary but not necessarily merger" Peter MacKay. He's a fairly competent, if reluctant, minister, and he would most likely be popular among the Conservative base and possibly among moderates. With a good track record behind him, Prentice would make a good contender for the leadership.
But, really, do the Conservatives want another leader from Alberta? Which brings us to our next fellow....
Most remember Bernier as the former Foreign Affairs minister who left sensitive documents at his girlfriend's. This Quebecer, hailing from the Beauce region, is in the safest seat in the province and has been making waves in the Conservatives. Whether its his laudable opinion on climate change, to his talks out in Calgary which woo audiences with breathtaking composure, Bernier is everywhere it seems. Though he's yet to make it back into cabinet to redeem himself Joe Clark-style (not saying he could, but still), Bernier will most likely make a run sometime in the future, so be on the lookout.
Lord, the former Premier of New Brunswick who was ousted by current Premier Shawn Graham, can be considered the Frank McKenna of the Conservative Party. Always thought to be on the sidelines, waiting for his chance to grab the leadership, and lead the Conservatives to a glorious victory.
But Lord would most likely be a mixed blessing. He doesn't have huge name recognition, and his time as Premier is not necessarily notable for anything. He was/is a competent leader, but there isn't any major distinction from other leaders. That might not work against him, but it probably doesn't help, either. He'll certainly be electable, but how much more so than other leadership contenders? That is the question Conservatives must ask themselves if Lord ever gets his chance.
Everyone knows who MacKay is - the man who ended the Tories. Now he's Defense Minister, and one that is quite ho-hum at that. MacKay, for all his detractors, does have leadership potential. He's an intelligent, well-spoken Atlantic Conservative from the old Tory line who is fairly moderate in his positions. He has the distinction of holding quite a few ministerial positions and hasn't totally tanked them, like some. He's also the most popular person considered to succeed Harper. So MacKay could really be in the running. Just don't bank on anything if he says he won't merge with the Liberals.
Now, I won't be putting any Jim Flahertys, John Bairds or Lawrence Cannons in this list. Why? Because I have a feeling those folks, and a good portion of Harper's inner cabinet, would leave the second he lost power. Others, like the ones I listed, seem to have more ambitions and an inclination to stay on even in Opposition. Call it a gut feeling.
Anyways, comment on the list, or add your own, if you have any ideas!
The Sarah Palin of Winnipeg, first-time MP Shelly Glover, would be a fun choice to run with. Just imagine it: Conservatives would base their platform on faulty information that plays to the emotions of people; they'd claim partisan excess, yet commit it themselves; and they'd forget their biggest friends and allies!