Keith Beardsley’s View From the Hill – Congrats to Senator Larry Smith – December 21, 2010 – Cornwall Ontario

Cornwall ON – Congratulations to Larry Smith, Mr Harper’s newly appointed senator from Quebec. A household name in that province, Smith brings much needed business experience to the national Conservative caucus.

Rumours persist that Harper will try a replay of the Fortier fiasco and appoint Smith to cabinet and then have him run for the Conservatives in the next federal election. The riding chosen is Lac St Louis, held in the 1980’s by Jack Layton’s father, who was a minister in the Mulroney government.

Hopefully this will not be the case. While Larry Smith would be an excellent addition to cabinet such a cynical ploy on the part of the Prime Minister would not be well received by either the population or the media in Quebec.

Fortier’s appointment to cabinet, particularly as a regional minister in charge of Montreal, generated an unending series of negative attacks by opposition parties and the media. All of which left Fortier’s reputation battered and in tatters, prior to his running for election in Vaudreuil. Does Larry Smith deserve that?

It would be better to leave him out of cabinet. As anyone knows who has been there, holding any cabinet position is a full time job and it’s an exhausting experience. Lac St Louis is held by a Liberal incumbent who is a virtual unknown MP, but it is still a tough nut to crack for the Conservatives. Many would argue Smith would have a better chance of winning in Pierrefonds-Dollard, the riding next door to Lac St Louis. If Smith chooses to run in Lac St Louis (a potential announcement is expected Tuesday), winning that riding will be a full time job. His Senate role will be distracting enough without the added burden of being in cabinet.

If Harper really wants Smith to win and join the Conservative cabinet, then forget the short term goal, leave him out of cabinet and let him work on building the electoral team and let him do the door to door campaigning he needs to win the riding.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails.

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