The world's longest leadership campaign - for the Canadian Conservative Party - arranged as its climax a day-long transferable-vote process in 13 rounds, in the course of which 12 candidates were eliminated until only one remained standing: Andrew Scheer beat out Maxime Bernier by a whisker to become the new Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition.
It was a surprising result to those who thought Mr Scheer, former Speaker of the House of Commons, was too socially conservative for contemporary dispositions. Mad Max Bernier is of more libertarian bent and led through the twelve preceding rounds. But the opening score was a little softer than expected (he didn't clear 30 per cent) and foreshadowed the eventual outcome in the final round, when he topped out at 49.05 per cent.
Congratulations to Mr Scheer, and I can't say I saw that coming. A few weeks ago I interviewed three of the prospective Conservative leaders - M Bernier, Lisa Raitt (who survived until Round Seven), Kellie Leitch (Round Nine) - but not the winner. I wish the new top Tory all the best, and I invite all my northern readers who haven't yet seen it to take a gander at my live show from the Manning Centre in Ottawa, which opens with a bunch of leadership-campaign gags that can now be retired for the next 150 years. For American readers, Kelly Jane Torrance explains some of the background in The Weekly Standard, including a nod to yours truly:
Pundit and humorist Mark Steyn closed the conference with a rollicking celebration of dissent with a distinctly Canadian flavour. Steyn addressed a recent parliamentary motion—since passed, supported by many in the Conservative caucus—that called for the government to "condemn Islamophobia" and do something about "the increasing public climate of hate and fear." Steyn declared, "I'm a phobia phobe. And I'm sick of the medicalization of differences of opinion."
Some of Steyn's best jokes wrote themselves. He did a sound check in the auditorium after the headline event, a debate with all 14 candidates vying to lead the Conservative party. Some of them had left their notes on the stage; one piece of paper had on it the words "Wife. Three kids." Steyn barely had to ask why a man needed a note to remind him of this before the crowd erupted in laughter.
I won't reveal who that was, except to say that he made it surprisingly far, so a written reminder of the number of kids you have is not to be disdained. Anyway, for non-Canadians, don't worry if you don't get all the primo Sir Mackenzie Bowell comedy gold, just go with the flow:
If you're a Canadian Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club and you'd like to weigh in on Andrew Scheer's victory, give it your best below. If you're one of the embittered dozen losing candidates and you want to stick it to the guy, that's okay, too, but you have to sign up for Founder Membership first. Don't leave it too late: Founding Member enrollment ends this Wednesday, May 31st.