On the terrifying rise of my arch-enemy Michael Byers

ITQ brings the big news that Michael Byers will seek the federal NDP nomination in Hedy Fry’s riding. (Why ‘seek,’ by the way? Because the NDP leaves selection of candidates entirely up to local riding associations, and the leader is very reluctant even to state a local preference. This has on occasion led to hurt feelings among candidates-for-candidacies who thought they could rely on the leader’s support. Anyone who wants to run against Byers is free to take a shot, but it’s clear the NDP is excited that Byers wants to run for them.)

Anyway, at the not-inconsiderable risk of being self-indulgent, this gives me the excuse I need to address what Byers seems to regard as my implacable vendetta against him.

“I treat criticism from certain quarters as a measure of success,” Byers told an interviewer last autumn. “I would be worried if people like Paul Wells of Maclean’s magazine liked my book; as it is, the fact that he tried to tear it apart means that he’s taking the challenge seriously.”

I have terrible news for Mr. Byers. I’m not taking the challenge seriously. My proof is that I didn’t actually try very hard to tear his book apart. In fact I embraced its central thesis (that’s the part where I say “I want to be careful to say he makes a big point well”) while, it’s true, making some considerable fun of other parts. Here’s the review; decide for yourself.

I did, in an earlier incarnation of this blog, make even greater fun of some epically obtuse things Byers said on an At Issue panel after the London tube bombing (that was the “if Toronto blew up, we’d get by” appearance), but fortunately for the pressing cause of world harmony, no archive of that particular critique remains.

On the issue at hand, Byers looks like a strong candidate for his party in that riding. And the NDP, in general, is doing a better job attracting moderately high-profile candidates than either of the larger parties. Good news for a party that could use some.