If I was Stephen Harper, who would I want to run against?
(a) An aloof Chretienite Quebecois academic with a modest grasp of English
(b) An aloof former NDP premier who blew one of the biggest majorities in the province's history in a single term
(c) An aloof but stellar academic who is vulnerable to a charge that he's a carpetbagger?
Much of the Liberal problem can be traced back to Jean Chretien's lame cabinets. In 1996, when Chretien went out to find a new set of Three Wise Men from Quebec, he returned with Pierre Pettigrew, Lucienne Robillard and Stephan Dion. They were no Gerard Pelletier, Jean Marchand and Pierre Trudeau. Liberal talent in Ontario and B.C. wasn't cultivated. And Paul Martin didn't make anything better. Seducing Belinda Stronach now seems more like a cheap publicity stunt than a real coup. And, it turns out, everyone's seduced Belinda at some time or another.
Bright people aren't coming up through riding associations and getting elected to Parliament. Those who survive the often-shabby nomination system usually don't make cabinet, since regional politics and diverse national representation now trump talent.
It isn't any better in the Tory ranks. In fact, if Stephen Harper was hit by a falling overpass in Quebec the Tories would be finished for another twenty years.