View Full Version : Federal Liberals are courting Bratina

Jun 15, 2009, 11:06 AM
Federal Liberals are courting Bratina

June 15, 2009
Andrew Dreschel
The Hamilton Spectator

First they signed up Dan McLean, now they're wooing Bob Bratina.

The federal Liberals are trying to convince Bratina to run for them in the riding of Hamilton Centre, held by New Democrat MP David Christopherson.

And the downtown city councillor and CHML morning man is willing to think about it - as long as there's not a snap election.

"My interest is to fulfil my obligations to the (Ward 2) residents and then consider what next," Bratina said. "So I'm not going to consider it until I fulfil my term on council."

With all the sabre-rattling going on in Ottawa, chances are the minority Conservative government will fall long before November 2010, when his council term ends.

But even if he doesn't run in the next election, the fact the Liberals approached him is further indication of how keen they are to round up high-profile candidates.

Bringing Bratina aboard would be as much a coup as netting former CHCH anchor McLean, who last week signed on to seek the nomination in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, held by Conservative David Sweet.

Clearly, the Grits are looking for big names in their efforts to regain a foothold in a city they once politically dominated.

They have no place to go but up.

In the last two federal elections, the Liberals were shut out in Hamilton with the city's five seats divvied up among three New Democrats and two Conservatives.

Still, with a recent poll suggesting Liberal support is edging up in the crucial 905 region, there's a feeling among some local Grits that the party is on the verge of bouncing back.

The timing may not be right for Bratina, but the idea of fielding him in the inner-city riding of Hamilton Centre is a good one. Bratina is probably one of the few candidates who would have a chance at cracking that NDP stronghold, held by Christopherson since 2004 when the riding was first formed.

Personally popular and instantly recognizable, thanks to his hit radio show, Bratina is in some ways a throwback to old-style Hamilton politics. He's a kibitzer and a quipster. He's passionate, he easily connects with people, and he knows the city inside and out.

But he's also temperamental and he can be volatile, a combination that occasionally leads to controversy, which is not necessarily a bad thing in the rough-and-tumble world of Hamilton politics.

Bratina says the approach made to him was very informal, but a Liberal source says the direction came from the party's top ranks.

The fact they even made contact may come as a surprise to those who pegged him as more of a New Democrat than a Liberal.

But Bratina says he falls somewhere between the two camps.

"I would say I'm probably somewhere between the left Liberals and the right NDP."

If he ever did take on Christopherson, it would be with mixed feelings. Bratina has a lot of respect for the man.

Still, he does question whether the NDP can effectively advocate for the city if they're not likely to form a government.

"Dave is a strong member and all that, but it's the old argument: If you don't have people in the cabinet level or at least in the ruling party, what can you get?"

He also believes the Liberal party needs to rebuild and be strong again for the good of the country, regardless of whether it's in power.

"Can I play a role in that? I don't know. But I'll certainly consider it." Once this council term is over, that is.

Jun 15, 2009, 12:45 PM
Unless you put up Jesus for Hamilton Centre I can't picture Christopherson losing.

But this race in Hamilton looks interesting:
Hamilton Centre - Bob Bratina
ADFW - Dan McLean
Hamilton Mountain - Tyler Banham
Hamilton East - Stoney Creek - Larry Di Ianni