Lord vs Harper 
From Bourqe today:

Bourque has learned that PC Leader Peter MacKay, Elmer's lad, will back a leadership bid by NB Premier Bernard Lord. Sources within MacKay's circle of confluence tell Bourque that "Peter is ready to step aside and let a fresh face come forward to lead a united right ... and Bernard Lord is that fresh face". One insider, a bedrock Alberta tory who requested anonymity, was adamant. "Pierre, for the good of the party, for the good of Parliament, for the good of Canada, we've got to back Lord". Meanwhile, it is understood that a number of Canadian Alliance personalities are also supportive of a Lord leadership bid, including Hal Danchilla and Rod Love, both formerly associated with Stockwell Day's Canadian Alliance leadership, along with MPs Jason Kenney and Art Hanger, of all people. Also emerging is the interest of so-called "non-Martin Liberals", as one Grit put it, noting in an email to Bourque that "many Liberals are interested in meeting Lord, too, when he comes to Toronto...and in Calgary and Vancouver".


Former Ont Energy Minister John Baird Ponders PC Leadership Bid ...

What great news for the Conservative Party!

First, locally if Baird does run for the leadership and gets some support it would give him a great jump if he decides to run against Pratt in his Nepean-Carleton riding. Pratt barely beat a low profile Michael Green of the Alliance in 2000 and would very hard pressed to hold off the popular MPP Baird.

Onto Lord vs Harper....

A lot has been made of Harper's appearance to Central and Eastern Canada. A commonly expressed view is that Atlantic PC supporters will not support the Conservative Party should Harper win the leadership. Using my calculator (okay, its fun to use) I've looked at what will happen to the 32 Eastern ridings should PC voters in 2000 move to/from the Conservative Party. I've assumed all the Alliance voters will vote Conservative and the people that voted Liberal and NDP in 2000 will do the same next year.

% PC to ConLiberalConsNDP

In Ontario, the biggest thing that would hurt Harper, if he won, would be the continued press and questions about whether the merger was an Alliance takeover or not. Lord obviously would not face those questions.

How would Lord do in the West - the rumoured support of Klein must carry some weight but you would think that Harper could carry the prairie support better. BC is a question, however, as the Liberals have polled very well there recently. My feeling is that a leader from Ontario or Quebec might have more problems in the West than Lord or Harper - these two don't have the Bay St / Old Boys stigma or the Quebec / Mulroney history that a candidate from Ontario or Quebec would have.

In Quebec, nobody expects the Conservatives to win any ridings regardless of the leader but again, the perception is that Lord would be better received and therefore it would better convince voters in Ontario that the Conservatives are a national alternative -- you don't have to win seats in Quebec, just make it look like you aren't a joke there. Maybe it's related to the 1993 Reform ads (PMs from Quebec) but Harper still has that baggage to lose.

Jim Prentice, in an interview on CFRA here in Ottawa, said the leadership candidates will be judged on their winnability at election time.

Harper has to convince people that he can do that while Lord would seem to have the momentum and be able to produce numbers to show that he is the leader that can.

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