Klees clutches for the brass ring.

You have to admire a guy who gives it a shot.  You admire it even if the shot is by a neo-conservative such as MPP Frank Klees.  Frank has decided to take a run at the Speaker’s job at Queen’s Park.  It is an interesting career direction but obviously a swan song for his role as heir-apparent to provincial Conservative Leader Tim Hudak.

Heir-apparents to losers become losers themselves.  Think back to Kim Campbell following Brian Mulroney as Prime Minister or Ernie Eves chasing Mike Harris as Premier of Ontario.  Nobody gave a damn about their credentials or differences from their predecessors.  They carried the can for them.

And nobody would want to deliberately carry the can for Tim Hudak.  Besides, Frank Klees is seven years older than Tim.  And Tim is unlikely to retire tomorrow.   The math does not work in Frank’s favour.

Tim Hudak has reason to be annoyed with Klees as his defection to the speaker’s job will effectively make the Legislature a draw.  If Klees is elected Speaker, it would mean 53 Liberals on the Speaker’s right and 53 Conservative and NDP members on the Speaker’s left.  While the Speaker only votes in case of a tie, the Speaker has limited options.

The good news is that Frank Klees would make an excellent speaker.  He can bring a degree of fairness and experience to the Speaker’s chair better than Liberal contenders for the job.  There are four Liberals also reaching for the brass ring.  Of the four, David Zimmer, MPP for Willowdale, is probably best qualified for the job.

Frank Klees has been in the Ontario Legislature the longest of all present candidates and probably has the best understanding of the role of the Speaker of the House.  He will obviously enjoy the perquisites of the Speaker as well as the higher pay.  Given a good report card by all parties in the next four years, he might even have the opportunity to return as Speaker if re-elected in the next election.  Otherwise, he can return to the business world, with a nice pension from the Ontario Legislature later on.

It must be one of those times when Premier Dalton McGuinty regrets the increased democracy in the Legislature.  Until 1990, the Speaker was chosen by the Premier in consultation with the leaders of the other parties.  Now the Speaker is elected by all members by secret ballot.  The secret ballot is the kicker because it will do no good for Tim Hudak to tell his Conservatives not to vote for Klees.  It could be just a half dozen Tory supporters that could put him over the top.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

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