The Ides of March is famous in history as the day that Big Julie was done in by his pals in Rome, back in 44 BC. It was not a good day for democracy.
March 13, 2013 was a much better day in Rome, and it happened in an exclusive little male gathering in the Sistine Chapel. Cardinal Jorje Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, henceforth known as Francis the First, was chosen to walk in the Shoes of the Fisherman. He is the first non-European Pope, and his election has spawned the renewed dream of meaningful change in the church that has not been seen since John the 23rd more than 50 years ago.
On the very same day in our country, the group that used to be seen as Canada’s Natural Governing Party suffered a major setback for democracy. Marc Garneau, Canada’s first spaceman, dropped out of the Liberal leadership race and pledged his support for Justin Trudeau.
Garneau was Justin’s strongest challenger, but he probably knew from the start that the game was fixed. As soon as Trudeau stepped into the race, the wheels were greased for the eldest son of Pierre.
Among the early heavyweights to announce his support for Justin was Saskatchewan’s Ralph Goodale, possibly the best prime minister we never had in Canada.
Two years ago, when the Liberals suffered their worst election defeat since confederation, and fell to third place behind the Conservatives and the NDP, they went through an exercise in ‘window dressing’.
Michael Ignatieff walked the plank immediately, and the heavyweights, including Goodale and Bob Rae, promised that the process of choosing a new leader would be a genuine democratic opportunity for renewal of the party, based on developing a new vision for the country. It hasn’t happened.
The Liberals could maybe learn a lesson or two from the Cardinals in Rome. At least they sent up black smoke a couple of times before declaring a winner.
I’m Roger Currie