Intramural Politics: Star Athletes as Candidates

By Jared Wesley on Sep 12, 2008

Stephen Harper has been courting hockey dads ever since he became leader. (His sponsorship of a CASCAR, book on hockey history, and photo-ops at Canadian Tires and Tim Horton's are evidence enough.) Who knew the plan would include - or perhaps, lure - several high-profile sports personalities to run under the Conservative Party banner?

This is precisely what's happening in Manitoba this month, where a former Winnipeg Blue Bomber, Trevor Kennerd, and former Jets captain, Thomas Steen, are representing the Tories in South-Centre and Elmwood-Transcona, respectively. Few give Steen a hope of winning his riding, Bill Blaikie's old stomping grounds and one of the New Democrats safest seats. (Steen lives in Tuxedo, a well-to-do area of the capital and working-class Transcona's alter ego. Plus, newly-minted NDP candidate, MLA Jim Maloway, is challenging Steen to policy debates in which the latter is severely outmatched.) Kennerd has a decent chance against incumbent Anita Neville, however. If not because of his "star power," Kennerd may ride the wave of Conservative support, nationally, should Harper's team gain momentum.

All of this makes for interesting campaigning, but does it really help the Conservatives as they attempt to cobble together a majority? A few seats, here and there, can make a difference. But if the party wants to make a breakthrough, it's female voters - soccer moms and non-soccer moms - whose votes they desperately need. His inability to court women's votes is the number one factor keeping Harper from a majority government. And while the Tories are assembling a fine intramural football or hockey team, no Kennerd field goal or Steen slapshot will help him close that gap.

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you might be able to find a former pro athlete anywhere

It certainly does look like the athletes are using their star power. All parties do that. [Like, what is Ken Dryden and Marc Garneau doing in politics???] However. let me to play the devil's advocate here for a moment.

People change careers all of the time and professional athletes are among them. You can find a former athlete in all fields of work. Why should politics be any different?

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