Federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice will step down to take a vice-president job at CIBC. (CHRIS ROUSSAKIS/QMI Agency)
A true gentleman and effective cabinet minister resigned on Thursday and it is true, the Harper government has lost a top man with Jim Prentice’s departure. Prentice was effective at carrying out his boss’ orders as Indian affairs minister and he made good moves at industry but I’m puzzled by all the chatter about his return as a leadership contender in the future.
The big problem with Jim Prentice being touted as the man to replace Stephen Harper is that I thought you had to be a Conservative to be Conservative Party leader.
Yes, yes, yes Prentice has been a member of the party from the start and has been in cabinet since they came to power but carrying out your boss’ orders is not the same as inspiring the troops and leading them into battle.
Universally it seems that the press loves Mr. Prentice this morning. In fact it has always been so. For some members of the chattering classes the idea that Prentice might someday take over the leadership reins has been the glimmer of hope in their dark Harper world.
It won’t happen and just for the record I don’t see Bernard Lord or Jean Charest becoming leader despite their cheerleaders in Official Ottawa. Lord is a near unknown for most of the country and Charest leads the most statist government in all of North America. He’s about to be outflanked on the right by a former PQ cabinet minister.
As I said, Prentice may have been effective as a minister, but is he the right man to lead today’s Conservative Party? I don’t think so.
On many issues Prentice is to the left of the party base and his old Progressive Conservative slip is showing. On social issues he’s with the Liberals, on the environment he’s further to the left than the party and as for fiscal conservatism…..well, that side of the government is in shambles so it’s tough to say. But if Prentice is qualified to lead the today’s Tories then so is Scott Brison.
Warren Kinsella, L. Ian MacDonald, John Ivison, Don Martin and the Globe and Mail editorial board are all singing Prentice’s praises this morning. If a full-throated media chorus going a cappella on how great a Conservative MP you are isn’t enough to kill off a leadership bid then I don’t know what is.
The newly minted top banker told our own Laura Payton that he’s done with politics, we’ll have to wait and see.
My advice to Prentice would be to go and enjoy the new job, enjoy the money, enjoy time with your family and remember that for every Jean Chretien that mounted a successful comeback from the world of business there are several failures like John Turner, Ernie Eves, Jim Dinning………