Sunday, April 27, 2008

Two years later: The strange disappearance of Gerard Kennedy

If you are among the millions of centre-lefties exasperated by the Conservative government and the Liberal “strategy” of keeping them ensconced in 24 Sussex by abstaining or administering oxygen to his agenda by voting with Harper, there is someone you might consider heaping a large part of the blame upon.

Oddly, it’s someone you may not have even thought of in a while. And someone who through a series of bad choices, some are saying, has all but buried his brief affair with federal politics.

It was precisely two years ago today that Ontario’s then education minister announced his candidacy to succeed Paul Martin as Liberal leader. Gerard Kennedy entered the race with astronomical expectations; remarkable for a party who by sheer force of narcissism and hubris routinely transform the mundane into the monumental.

At times appearing to take more inspiration from his legendary namesake than from the actual candidate, supporters claimed that Kennedy would attract droves of young people to the party; revitalize its atrophied left; and by virtue of his Acadian spouse, appeal to Francophones. In a party hampered by its historic lack of appeal to westerners and in a race without a credible candidate west of the Humber River, Kennedy even won converts by claiming he would run in a western constituency (confused somewhat by a similar boast made to Quebecers).

But two years later that’s all ancient history. Owing to a pact between the two men that the first off the ballot would support the other to defeat either Ignatieff or Rae, Stephane Dion is the man in charge of what remains of the Liberal Party. Today, the man Kennedy boosted into the OLO faces blistering criticism from the left for being unwilling to risk defeating a right-wing government that is irreversibly changing Canada, because he is unprepared for an election. Unable to be lost in all this, is that the man Dion rewarded with the post of preparing the party for a 2007 election was Gerard Kennedy.

In any other party, the king-maker is treated to generous riches and a higher profile. In the Liberal Party, Kennedy appears to have been black-listed by the party elite. He could have been the first of the four seat-less leadership aspirants in the House had he been encouraged to run in the 2006 London by-election. Instead, Kennedy is now the only one not in Ottawa and even the most recent of Kennedy’s “current events” on his website are almost a year old.

In recent days, media have noticed and begun wondering aloud about Kennedy’s strange disappearance.

But along with his cushy gig toiling in the mahogany and exam-sweat infused halls of Ryerson University, Kennedy appears every bit a man who has settled into certain realities. The first of which is that his ploy to help Dion win has left him unloved by the party establishment in the Senate who would have much preferred Michael Ignatieff or Today's Bob Rae to the Professor. The second is that Dion will never be prime minister meaning that the next leadership race will be a pathetically personal settling of scores between two college roommates. The third, as noted this week in NOW magazine, is that Kennedy can’t even count on winning election in his old provincial riding of Parkdale-High Park against the popular and accomplished NDP industry critic Peggy Nash who took Harper on over the US sale of Canadian satellite technology and won.

From provincial cabinet minister with premier potential to being the target of media search parties, Kennedy has fallen a long way in two years. A column in the Toronto Star may have summed it up best:

“Maybe it was more than Gerard Kennedy could handle, too. Maybe he vanished up his own cosmic aberration. Maybe when you single-handedly create the first Liberal leader who might not make it into the history books, you're destined to go pffft before he does.”


Steve V said...

Interesting, you didn't mention this quote from the NOW magazine article on Nash's riding:

"While a candidate’s success at the local level depends on how the leader is performing, U of T politics prof Nelson Wiseman says Kennedy has a lock on Parkdale-High Park even if Dion ultimately bombs."

Blogging Horse said...

Prof Wiseman is entitled to his opinion. And perhaps that's one explanation for why Kennedy's disappeared. He's taking the riding for granted.

Or perhaps he’s disappeared because he recognizes that the centre-left is readying to punish Stephane Dion for leting Harper change Canada irreperably.

Dr. Tux said...

Blogging Horse,

It saddens me greatly watching another human being do what you do. Being nothing more than a partisan hack must be excruciating for your soul.

How about looking up into the light? How about a little more honesty, how about a little more integrity? These are all very necessary for human beings. As much as food, water and shelter.

You cannot continue being a partisan hack forever, you know. It's simply unsustainable.

Anonymous said...


You are making assumptions that Gerard is taking his riding for granted when you have not been in Parkdale-High Park. That comment you made was an assertion based on an interpretation from a NOW magazine article.

I've seen GK once a month here in Toronto for the past three months. He is working hard and is a welcome addition to Ryerson Business School. In fact, Gerard needs to be commended for running in Parkdale-High Park when he could have asked for a safer seat in the GTA. He wanted to build up his reputation in his home riding and there is no doubt in my mind, he is working hard at it.

Instead of telling blogosphere why Peggy Nash is a better progressive candidate, you resorted to attack the Liberals irrationally. At the same time, making wild assumptions that Gerard Kennedy has left politics and thrown in the towel.

Blogging Horse said...

Dr. Tux: Thanks for dropping by.

Mushroom: The only thing that's being questioned here is what happened to Kennedy. Some are suggesting he's taken a low profile because he's smart enough to read the writing on the wall that says the Liberals are going to get punished for helping Harper change the country. Where's the irrationality in that? It's all quite rational, really.

janfromthebruce said...

I've briefly wondered how Kennedy got that cushy job at Ryerson, considering that not only does he not have a PhD, but more to the point, he is an undergraduate university dropout with only 2 years under his belt.

I guess that some people get soft landings when others grease the skids rather than working really hard to get ahead. What's wrong with Kennedy moonlighting to at least get his bac degree - it would give him some respect within the academic community, considering that he is working in a university that tries to encourage people to get degrees, and it's not like he's elderly.

janfromthebruce said...

"His outstanding achievements in politics, education and the voluntary sector are the perfect match for the Ted Rogers School of Management and its ongoing initiative to further foster collaboration between government, industry and not-for-profit for mutual economic benefits."

Essentially the Ted Rogers school of business is paying Kennedy back for the institutionalization of foodbanks - a supposed stop-gap measure - that now is permanent. Instead of people earning a living wage so they can feed their own families they must depend on the generousity of business (charity) to feed them. The same business community who continually wants more tax cuts and got their handouts and hand-ups (foodbanks)back when. It's fitting that Kennedy got this post with Rogers.

James Curran said...

As opposed to the strange disappearance of Olivia Chow?

Dippers are funny people...Jan, Help the poor and you complain about wages...which just went up again April 1st in Ontario thanks to the McGuinty plan for a target of $10.25. So, I guess food banks are bad ideas?

Steve V said...

"considering that not only does he not have a PhD, but more to the point, he is an undergraduate university dropout with only 2 years under his belt."

What a fraud you are jan, criticizing the guy for quitting school to GO WORK AT A FOOD BANK. Too funny.

Blogging Horse said...

"which just went up again April 1st in Ontario thanks to the McGuinty plan for a target of $10.25."

Funny you should say that. It wasn't long ago that the McGuinty Liberals were against increasing the minimum wage, saying it would kill jobs, etc. It wasn't until they lost a by-election to the NDP - coincidentally in Gerard Kennedy's seat in Parkdale, if memory serves - over the issue that they finally caved.

James Curran said...

Yes that's it. A by-election. You complain even when the issue is addressed. Hilarious really.

Foodbanks send the wrong message according to Jan.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Jan and Blogging Horse have selective memories.

If you want to thank DiNovo's victory in Parkdale-High Park, please send a card to certain Liberals in Queen's Park who brought up the LSD in Bibles controversy. The $10.00 minimum wage came later in a DiNovo private member's bill and was an issue in the York-South Weston by-election.

Stop this trashing of Grits. It creates the impression that some NDP cadres are ungrateful, even when some Liberals are willing to praise to them.

Jan, I don't find the Visiting Professorship at Rogers to be that cushy. It pays the bills somewhat and I presume that Rae and Martha got more billable hours at Goodman and Lafleur respectively. Furthermore, being an NDP cadre, you then proceeded to criticize Ryerson Polytechnic and its commitment to lifelong learning and developing future leaders in the social services and voluntary sector. Keep on taking this attitude and you can see a continuation of the NDP's erosion of support in the GTA. Welcome to Jack Layton's NDP: Ideology over Practical Solutions when dealing with the social services and the voluntary sector.

Anonymous said...

One more fact to ponder

Toronto Centre
By-election on March 17, 2008
Party Candidate Votes %
Liberal Bob Rae 14,187 59.2 +7.0%
New Democrat El-Farouk Khaki 3,299 13.8 -9.9%
Green Chris Tindal 3,263 13.6 +8.4%
Conservative Donald Meredith 2,982 12.5 -5.7%
Animal Alliance Liz White 123 0.5 +0.4%
Canadian Action Doug Plumb 97 0.4 -
Liberal hold Swing +8.5

A drop of 9.9 percentage points and a bit over 3000 votes in a riding that consists of Ryerson University. Please reconsider your tactics. Thanx.

Blogging Horse said...

Mushroom said: "Stop this trashing of Grits. It creates the impression that some NDP cadres are ungrateful, even when some Liberals are willing to praise to them."

Yeah, what is it about the centre-left in this country that they can't realize how super-amazing the Liberals are?

Sure they broke their promises on child care, the environment and universal drug coverage. Sure they killed Canada's internationally recognized national housing program. Sure they cut $25 billion from education and health care. Sure they let international aid to drop to levels lower than the Mulroney government. Sure they appoint their bag-men and croneys to 30 year terms in the unaccoutnable Senate. Sure they have been helping Harper do irreversible damage to the country. Sure they funnelled millions of taxpayers' dollars to their own party. Sure they extended the $8 billion mission in Afghanistan twice. Sure they call for $50.5 billion in new tax cuts for profitable companies while First Nations poverty goes unaddressed.

You expect the centre-left to be grateful? You can't be serious.

Don't complain about bloggers "trashing the Grits" -- the Grits are doing an fine job of it all on their own.

James Curran said...

Actually it was the NDP that voted to help Harper bring down Martin, thereby killing Kelowna, Kyoto and Kids. Like it or not, you played a large part in that debacle Dippers.

Blogging Horse said...

James: A few months ago, Maria Minna made this exact same argument -- not in a speech or an op-ed, but in an opposition day motion! Instead of using their motion to vote non-confidence in Harper, Liberals voted non-condidence in the NDP.

Liberals, including Liberal bloggers were rightly outraged by Minna's shameful political showboating. As one Liblogger said "get over it already."

Canadians took power away from the Liberals because of their record. Two years later, that some Liberals - including MPs - still don't understand this is regretable.

James Curran said...

Their Record? You mean the 9 consecutive balanced budgets with surpluses that Harper has blown already? You mean the most prosperous Canada there had been since WWII. I'll run on that record anytime.

Jimmie said...


Are you sure you want to run on that Liberal record?

The very same one that the latest Census (due out this week) shows only widened Canada's prosperity gap during, what you call, "the most prosperous" time since WWII?

Obviously more eminent pointy heads than us would disagree with you: http//

And Paul Martin's addiction to corporate tax cuts to profitable companies that don't need them? The ones that Dion says he would cut further to make Harper look like a patsy?

"A report last month from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showing Canada to be one of a minority of OECD countries where tax cuts and other fiscal policies have primarily favoured upper income groups doesn't shore up the notion that inequality is a passing happenstance."

Bravo. Bring it on.

Malcolm+ said...

How do you know an online Liberal is lying? Letters appear.

There are too many ridiculous comments from Liberals on this thread to mock them all properly. Let me just respond to two points.

James Curran, you are a liar. If every single NDP MP in the House had voted with the Martin Liberals, that government still would have fallen. The numbers had changed significantly since the previous confidence vote in the spring - including the departure of two Liberal MPs from your caucus and the death of Chuck Cadman. Blaming your failure on someone else suggests that you are not only a liar, but a coward.

Besides, your benighted ditherer had promised to call an election three weeks later anyway.

And Dr. Tux, no Liberal has any right to criticize anyone else's integrity. A Liberal lecturing on integrity is like a whore lecturing on virtue.

Wheatsheaf said...

What I can't quite figure out is why even post on Kennedy? The man's best days are behind him. Let him retire to his cushy academia job (appointed just two months before the last time the Liberals were "serious" about forcing an election...hmmm). Let Peggy Nash get on with the excellent work she does and let's all forget about Kennedy. The amount of virtual ink he deserves is zero.

James Curran said...

Liar? What an absolute sorry excuse for a commentator you are Malcolm.

Did the NDP vote against the Liberals or not. Who gives a flying shit weather or not the non-confidence motion would have changed with your measely little 18 votes. It's the principal. YOU DIPPERS didn't support a government that was establishing national daycare, implementing Kyoto and Kelowna. You voted against all that.

As for your online poll bullshit, I am a member of Angus Reid. Their online polls are generally for those that are members of their forum. Politicos most of us. So, don't tell me an online poll reflects the views of all Canadians you bird. Cause they don't. It's really that simple. As I said, Wake me up ehen Nanos releases his next national and regional polls.

Don't EVER EVER call me a liar again!

Blogging Horse said...

Whoa. Calm down, James. It's just blogging.

Big picture: Liberals need to stop blaming everyone from the NDP to the RCMP for the fact that they lost the election.

It's like blaming the doorman because once outside you got hit by a bus.

It's pathetic. Canadians took power away from the Grits.

Just ask Paul Martin on election night: "I just telephoned Stephen Harper and I’ve offered him my congratulations. The people of Canada have chosen him to lead a minority government. I wish him the best."

Accepting that is the first step towards getting healthy.

Attacking Angus Reid's methodology because Liberals don't like the results is cheap. If you think the polls are junk take it up with the Toronto Star who clearly are of a different opinion having paid untold thousands to commission and print their polls.

Liberals are no different than Harper who blames Elections Canada and the media for his lot in life. Liberals blame the NDP, the RCMP, and occasionally the weather.

Everyone makes mistakes. When the NDP has made mistakes, they have appologized and moved on. Only the Liberals and Harper keep blaming everyone but themselves.

Get healty.

Malcolm+ said...

James, the Liberal government fell on it's own hook. They fell because they lost the confidence of the House - and they were defeated because they had lost the confidence of Canadians. Get over it.

There was no national childcare program. There hadn't been one in 13 years (despite much empty rhetoric) and there wasn't one when the government fell. There was Ken Dryden wandering about the country handing out cheques with no program criteria. If you think that's a program, you're delusional as well as dishonest.

Angus Reid is a pollster. He makes a living by providing useful public opinion research to customers. Liberals don't like his recent political results, so they are engaged in a coordinated plot to destroy his reputation. Don't bother lecturing me about being vile. You're a Liberal. You have no room.

Finally, I repeat the offer. If you NEVER, EVER lie, then I'll NEVER, EVER call you a liar.

In the meantime, the evidence of your wilful distortion, dissembly and dishonesty is here for everyone to read.