Well it seems that this week you can’t go a few hours without some big news coming out of the Conservative Leadership race, and tonight seems to be no different. Tonight we got one big, blockbuster piece of news that has a lot of tongues in Ottawa wagging and asking questions, and another tidbit that raises a question or two of it’s own. First up though is the latest news of the next person to back out of the race, and it’s one that most didn’t see coming:

Folks, I can’t hide my shock and surprise that this turn of events. Poilievre has been making the rounds since he let it be known that he would be going after the leadership. To know him is to know that this is a moment that he has been building towards for his entire political career of over 15 years. This was going to be his shot, and having big names like Jenni Byrne and John Baird on his team, he clearly had a lot of clout and heft behind his team. He had what a lot of other campaigns would have killed for, which was the apparent blessing of Stephen Harper. And with Jean Charest and Rona Ambrose out, he had a chance to be the standard bearer for the West, while having enough French to pull off a win. He was in the cat birds seat, and that was in spite of his drawbacks.

Yet tonight he got out, walked away from this chance almost before it even started. He stated family reasons for his decision, and I like to try to take those words at face value when I see them from whoever puts them out there, and I’m not going to say he is lying tonight. But I would be lying myself if I didn’t admit a piece of me doesn’t suspect there is more to this than that. This had gone too far down the road and he had assembled too much for the importance of family to have been an afterthought. And maybe the first few weeks of this campaign showed him this would be different this time, that’s totally possible. But yeah, I can’t shake this feeling that something else happened here. It just doesn’t add up and while I have no information or scuttlebutt to point to, it just feels like something is amiss here. I suspect we’ll hear more as time goes along but regardless I wish Pierre and his family the best.

The other tidbit that came out tonight in the shadows of the bombshell Poilievre news was something caught by Alexandre Quon of Global News. He found something that gave us more background on another candidate who we thought would take the plunge, but backed out instead. And yeah, it raises questions of it’s own:

For a whole hour there was a video up on YouTube of Jean Charest, a video in which he announced that he was in fact going to run for the Conservative leadership. Then poof, it disappeared. Given the confusion in the media earlier in the week when Mr. Charest made his ultimate decision to stay out, it makes you wonder about the whole backstory here and what exactly drove Charest to say “no”. Sorry but you don’t go to all the trouble of shooting and producing a video to announce your candidacy if you’re not sure about doing it. So something happened here that kept Charest out, something is off here too.

When you put these two stories together, it raises a bunch of questions but I’ve got a big one that keeps coming to mind: What in Hades is going on here in this race? All the big name candidates keep dropping out, suddenly and swiftly, leaving lots of open questions. This is starting to look more like the plot of a bad B-movie murder mystery than a political campaign. It’s like you got all these people in a room and suddenly they start to drop, one by one… One killed with a lead pipe, the other with an axe, a third choking on the salmon mouse. Everyone wondering who’s guilty, and everyone who seems like the most likely suspect turns up dead next, only to find out it was some innocuous bell body named Dexter who all of them had wronged in someway all through out there lives. I know that’s a silly comparison but at this point it seems a lot like someone is lurking behind the scenes to push this in a certain direction, maybe even a former Prime Minister. Sure that would explain Charest but how does it explain Poilievre? Maybe the murder mystery comparison is more apt than we’d like to think.

Regardless of what is happening in the shadows of this race, one thing is becoming clear for those who were hoping that this race would bring about some renewal within the Conservative Party. In fact, it doesn’t look very good on that front at all. It might just be me, but something seems seriously wrong with a leadership race that manages to chase away potential strong candidates like Jean Charest, Rona Ambrose, Pierre Poilievre & Gerard Deltell within a week but makes someone like Richard Décarie apparently feel right at home and in it for the long haul. This can’t possibly be a good thing for their hopes of bringing the party into the 21st century, right?

Yet as this week winds down and the House gets ready to come back on Monday, that’s exactly where we sit. It’s looking more and more like a Peter MacKay coronation, which surely doesn’t fix the Conservatives issues and will make Liberal and NDP strategies grin from ear to ear for months to come. Plus, in the past 40 years, leadership races that have turned into coronations, guided by people in the backroom who decided they knew best, haven’t turned out for the best for their parties. If you want to find out how well those go, just ask John Turner and Michael Ignatieff how their coronations turned out. Unless the Conservatives make a drastic turn of course here in the next couple of weeks, this race that they hoped would bring them into the future risks turning into a gong show that will remind Canadians of everything they don’t like about this party has it stands today, and show them that they aren’t willing to change. That can’t be good for the Blue Team and will surely lead to lots of smiling faces in the PMO.