Frank Klees has been many things in his public life- a cabinet minister under Mike Harris, an opposition critic under Tim Hudak, and a leadership hopeful finishing second twice. And now it looks like he could be the Speaker of the Provincial Legislature; a position vital to the government’s survival in the context of a minority government.
On the surface Klees’ candidacy could be viewed as a betrayal to his party. It cripples the opposition by taking the seat away, and helps the Liberals quest to govern as a majority. The Speaker’s role is to be neutral and keep order in the house- usually voting with the government in matters of confidence. And here’s where the genius part comes in. While it is accepted convention to vote with the government, there is nothing that says Klees should he win the role must do so. He could potentially use the role to put the Liberals’ feet to the fire on some of their promises. He could use the position to force compromises, and potentially accomplish something for his party.
Or it could be a totally jackass move, that will blow up in his face. The fact is his candidacy is viewed by some in his party as a betrayal. It makes Tim Hudak look a bit of a fool- a few days after saying nobody in his party has any interest in the position, Klees announces he does have interest. It’s a huge gamble for him; the Speaker becomes a powerful job in a minority Parliament-the arguable perception is he gave up the collective good- a combined opposition force with a majority of the power for his own self-interest. This does nothing to make any friends in any party. If he loses, he goes back to his own party, and although he’ll likely be welcomed back into the fold I’d imagine there’ll be no love lost.
I wonder if Mr Klees has thought this one out. Should he win the position, he’ll have to strike a delicate balance between party loyalty, and plunging the province into yet another election. Taking his seat out of the equation we’d be sitting with a statistical dead heat; it makes me wonder if this new/old provincial government would get anything done at all. We may be in for a very short mandate- or a very long one stuck in the muddy world of party politics.
This either is a genius move should he win; The P.C.’s could learn to live with it using him to their advantage in that role. Or it’s a totally jackass move that portrays him in an unflattering light as the typical politician who places self-interest above all else including party loyalty. At this point it could go either way.