— 2013 LPC Leadership Race

Trudeau’s Win by the Numbers

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, Fun with Numb3rs | 15 Comments

trudeau-family15nw5Over the past year, there have been thousands of articles written about Justin Trudeau, his father, and his leadership campaign. Since it hasn’t been a big secret he was going to come out on top, we’ve also seen thousands of articles about what his win means.

So rather than rehash what has already been written, allow me to provide the cold hard numbers behind his victory.


NUMBER OF VOTES: 104,552

That’s more than voted in the most recent NDP (65,108) or Conservative (97,397) leadership races – indeed, it might very well be the most Canadians to ever vote directly for the leader in a federal leadership race. I say “federal”, because, despite what was claimed earlier today, the 2006 Alberta PC leadership race drew 144,289 votes.

Either way, I wouldn’t read too much into this. Both the BC and Alberta Liberals had high turnout leadership races in 2011, and it doesn’t appear to have translated to general public support. But at the very least, Justin Trudeau now has a lot of semi-engaged Liberals to draw from for donations and volunteers.



TRUDEAU’S FIRST BALLOT SUPPORT: 80.1%

It’s difficult to compare this total to delegated conventions – especially delegated conventions from the good old days. But, for fun, Trudeau’s first ballot support ranks behind Martin (94%), is comparable to Pearson (78%), and is decidedly ahead of St. Laurent (69%), Chretien (57%), Turner (46%), King (36%), the other Trudeau (32%), and Dion (18%). Trudeau performed slightly better than Stephen Harper, who received 69% of the votes and 56% of the points (after they were weighted by riding) in 2004.



WAS IT INEVITABLE?

Trudeau’s crushing triumph certainly makes it look inevitable in hindsight. Maybe it was, but we’ve seen “can’t miss” candidates miss before.

If you look at the Intrade stock for a Trudeau victory, it ranged from 75% to 91%, showing that at least some people were willing to bet against him. Back in December, I asked readers of this blog to offer their predictions on the race, and while every entry except one had Trudeau winning, he was only given an average score of 41% on the first ballot. Remember, these are people who follow politics closely.

Even a few days ago, my poll of readers predicted an average first ballot figure of 65%, and only one-in-ten thought he’d crack 80%.

Of course, the support was always there, even if we didn’t all see it. But speaking as someone who was convinced to vote for Trudeau based on his performance during this race, I think the candidate and the campaign deserve a certain amount of credit for the magnitude of his victory.



ABOUT THOSE POWER RANKINGS

Here are my final Power Rankings, with each metric converted to a percentage:

Total $ Donors Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau 63% 68% 90% 77% 84% 91% 78% (+3)
Joyce Murray 13% 16% 8% 7% 2% 3% 9% (–)
Martha Hall Findlay 11% 9% 1% 7% 10% 4% 6% (-1)
Martin Cauchon 9% 2% 1% 4% 3% 1% 4% (–)
Karen McCrimmon 2% 2% 0% 3% 0% 0% 1.7% (–)
Deborah Coyne 2% 3% 0% 2% 1% 1% 1.5% (-1)



Even though these power rankings weren’t intended to predict first ballot support, they came within 2 percentage points for every candidate:

Power Rank Actual
Justin Trudeau 78% 80%
Joyce Murray 9% 10%
Martha Hall Findlay 6% 6%
Martin Cauchon 4% 3%
Deborah Coyne 1% 1%
Karen McCrimmon 2% 1%


I’m sure some of that is luck, but this is definitely an exercise I plan to continue on future leadership races.

How I’m Voting

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 13 Comments

montreal debate

Unlike past leadership contests where I’ve been fighting on the front lines for my candidate, I’ve watched the federal race largely as a spectator. Being away from a campaign offers a different vantage point, and I’ve enjoyed blogging my opinions candidly, as I slowly made up my mind who to support.

With voting now open (this is your cue hackers!), it’s time to take stock of the race…or “jog”, or “victory march”, or whatever you want to call it.

I wouldn’t consider this post an endorsement – as Allan Rock, Sheila Copps, John Manley, Gerard Kennedy (twice), and Dominic Leblanc will tell you, the Calgary Grit leadership endorsement is generally the kiss of death. So by all means, vote for who you think would make the best candidate – this post merely reflects my thought process for coming to a decision.

The Long Shots

This leadership race is being decided by ranked ballot, so I’m sure a few Liberals will toss a symbolic first choice vote to Karen McCrimmon or Deborah Coyne. Both have conceded they cannot win, but both have demonstrated they would make excellent MPs.

McCrimmon has been this race’s version of 2006 Martha Hall Findlay – that spunky underdog who shows she belongs. She is the least refined of the candidates, but that gives her a genuineness that often gets polished out of politicians. Yes, she lacks political experience, but she has an impressive CV, as the first woman to command a Canadian Forces air force squadron. She’s exactly the type of person we need in the Liberal Party and the type of politician we need more of in Ottawa.

When Deborah Coyne floated the idea of running for LPC leader last spring, I felt that, although she couldn’t win, her presence would bring a lot to the race. Indeed, it has. She has shown herself to be one of the sharpest policy minds in the Liberal Party, and has not been afraid to challenge the other candidates – but always in a respectful manner. She has not looked at all out of place on the debate stage, and has demonstrated retail political skills far more impressive than what you would expect from a “policy wonk”.

Good Candidates – Just Not My Cup of Tea

There are four candidates with MP experience who are presumably in it to win it. Of the four, Martin Cauchon has dissapointed me the most – but only because I had high hopes for him. Had he ran for leader in 2006 or 2009, I would have been very tempted to support him. The man is well spoken, experienced, and a shrewd political mind.

However, I’ve had great difficulty understanding the raison d’etre of the Martin Cauchon candidacy this time around. While his Cabinet experience is an asset, his entire campaign has had a “back to the 90s” feel to it, hyping the Liberal record and playing the same tired songs we’ve heard before – Kelowna, Kyoto, gun registry, Iraq. He has relied on the type uber-partisan rhetoric that turns me off, pepering his speeches with phrases like “Conservatives don’t like immigration“.

Make no mistake, Martin Cauchon is a good Liberal and a talented politician, but the overall message of his campaign just never resonated with me. I really think it’s a case of Cauchon coming late to the race, and not having time to find his feet. After all, he was scrambling for signatures just hours before the deadline.

Joyce Murray has run a very strong campaign and has sounded confident in the debates. I was quite moved by the story she told at the Showcase of growing up in South Africa during apartheid then being exposed to multiculturalism in full colour at Expo ’67.

But regardless what you think of Joyce, it’s impossible to separate the candidate from the plan. While I don’t think it’s treasonous to talk co-operation, and I might even be willing to try a strategic strike during a by-election, the NDP has closed the door to this so it’s really a bridge to nowhere. More importantly, the Liberal Party needs to give voters a reason to vote for it, other than “defeat Stephen Harper”. A pact with the NDP would only add noise to any positive message we try to broadcast during the campaign.

In fairness to Murray, she has given Liberals plenty of other reasons to vote for her – a carbon tax, legalized pot, and a focus on the environment. These are all things I agree with, but, in the end, I have my doubts about her ability to win. Still, she deserves credit for putting big ideas on the table, and adding spice to an otherwise dull leadership contest.

trudeau findlay
My Top 2

I mentioned earlier that Martha Hall Findlay was the “spunky underdog” in 2006. This time around she has shown she is ready to be a national party leader. She is strong, confident, and knows her stuff. Her communication skills have improved dramatically, and she has been able to explain herself well in a range of settings – shouting over the noise to supporters in a pub, in sit-down interviews, in debates, and on the big stage. I know many in the party establishment are not fans, but the Liberal Party could use a strong female leader willing to shake things up.

For me, her strongest moment this campaign came during the second leaders debate when, in two minutes, she provided a history and explanation of the supply management system, rebutted 6 common arguments for the status quo, and gave an impassioned plea for change. She showed substance and a willingness to take on sacred dairy cows, all the while making one of the most boring subjects possible relevant to the daily lives of average Canadians. She is someone you can imagine as Prime Minister without giggling.

And then, there’s Justin.

His name has been bandied about as a leadership candidate to varying degrees of seriousness for over a decade. Every single time it’s been floated, Liberals I’ve talked to have either proclaimed him to be our Messiah (he was born on December 25th), or dismissed him as our very own Sarah Palin. I’ve always fallen in the middle.

I recognize Justin has tremendous talents and potential, but the things that have drawn a lot of Liberals to him – his name and his inevitability – are both turn-offs for me. While I have a Pierre Trudeau picture hanging in my apartment, we’re not going to get to 24 Sussex on a wave of nostalgia. And as someone who has never voted for a winning leadership candidate, I’ve always been drawn to the underdog.

In all honesty, I would have liked to see a bit more policy from Justin this race, if only to innoculate himself against the “airhead” attack adds, but it’s completely unfair to say he lacks substance. He stuck his neck out on the Nexen takeover. He has called for open nominations in all ridings next election, as part of a well thought out democratic reform package. He’s pro-pot, is against co-operation, supports supply management, and thinks the gun registry was a failure.

I don’t neccesarily agree with all those positions, but he has struck a chord with me on the Quebec question. There’s a huge temptation to carve off those NDP nationalist seats, but Trudeau has instead adopted the, uhh, Trudeau approach to federalism. He has been clear in his support for the Clarity Act. He has said “non” to another round of constitutional debates. You’ll recall he spoke out strongly against the “Nation” resolution in 2006.

In the final leadership debate, in Montreal no less, he tossed away his closing statement to expand upon his vision for Canada – of a Canada where Quebecers’ voices and values are heard, rather than a Canada that tries to “buy them off”. It’s a vision of the country I agree with, and it’s one that can be used to differentiate the Liberals from the NDP next election.

Of course, it’s a vision I also share with Deborah Coyne and a host of other Liberals, so let’s stop dancing around on policy and cut to the one issue Liberals care about more than all others – winning. The Liberal Party is in third place, and there’s a very real chance we could get squeezed out of existence if we don’t make gains in 2015. Faced with this landscape, the fact that I may not like Justin’s position on supply management becomes rather insignificant.

Even Trudeau’s harshest detractors will acknowledge he has rock star appeal, and is blessed with more potential than any Canadian politician to come along over the last decade. Their concerns are, quite fairly, that he’ll be branded as a lightweight, or that he’ll gaffe himself out of contention. And while there were a few awkward moments in the Fall, Trudeau has exceeded expectations. Not only has he avoided stumbles and debated policy with the best of them, there have been flashes of brilliance. The moment that turned me squarely towards Justin came at the end of the Mississauga debate, when Martha Hall Findlay went in for the kill, asking the frontrunner how he can possibly speak about “the middle class” given his upbringing. Trudeau’s rebutal mixed reason and passion, drawing on his experiences as an MP in Papineau. I’m sure Harper and Mulcair won’t be so clumsy, but if they are, Trudeau has shown he can deliver the much talked about and rarely seen “knock-out punch”.

The man has a rare ability to connect with Canadians and inspire. His message of “hope and hard work” is exactly what the Liberal Party should be offering to a disengaged electorate, and I have confidence the team around him will continue to help him grow as a politician in the coming years.

So Trudeau has earned my vote. However, I won’t call it an endorsement, simply because the dreaded Calgary Grit endorsement is the only thing that could possibly derail him at this point.

Final Power Rankings

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Fun with Numb3rs | 10 Comments

Trudeau Sophie danse

There isn’t a lot of suspense surrounding Sunday’s Liberal leadership vote. Pick the metric of your choice – fundraising, endorsements, hair volume – and Trudeau leads his nearest challenger by at least a 4:1 ratio. I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in Twitter support, but Justin has 10 times more followers than the rest of the field combined.

The following table provides an overview of what little quantitative data we have on the race and offers a Power Rank, based on how these variables have translated to votes in past contests (methodology here).

Fundraising Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau $1,078,866 90% 77% 73,992 199,394 78% (+3)
Joyce Murray $225,310 8% 7% 2,147 5,848 9% (–)
Martha Hall Findlay $192,280 1% 7% 8,563 7,923 6% (-1)
Martin Cauchon $148,739 1% 4% 2,612 1,655 4% (–)
Karen McCrimmon $36,222 0% 3% 387 901 1.7% (–)
Deborah Coyne $31,651 0% 2% 501 2,199 1.5% (-1)


The bracketed number on the final column reflects changes from the last update – you can consider it a “momentum” score of sorts. Although that number shows Trudeau gaining ground, that’s completely a by-product of increased media attention – his share of the fundraising pie has actually dipped from 66% to 63%, with Joyce Murray and Martin Cauchon finishing strong on that front.

As I’ve stressed before, this isn’t a first ballot prediction, though it seems like as good a guess as any. I’d personally bet the “under” on 78% for Trudeau, but I do think he’s heading for a clear majority – and not just a “clear majority” by NDP standards.

In the end, whether Trudeau nabs 78%, or 63%, or the 112% some seem to be expecting, is irrelevant. Paul Martin received 94% of the vote and Michael Ignatieff got every vote, but both inherited deeply divided parties. While I have no doubt there will still be gripping from anonymous Liberals in the years to come, Team Trudeau has smartly run a positive and mostly unantagonistic campaign, that should leave Justin with relatively few enemies within the party.

That Trudeau exits this race untarnished and that the party exits this race united are far more important than whatever number is announced on Sunday.

What percentage of the weighted vote will Justin Trudeau get on the first ballot?
  



Showcase Showdown

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 14 Comments

LPC Convention 063

It doesn’t compare to the high stakes floor crossings and backroom deals that define delegated conventions, but yesterday’s Liberal Showcase still offered the speeches, signs, buttons, and hospitality suites politicos have come to expect at these gatherings. Justin Trudeau had cowbells. Martin Cauchon made swag history, handing out Liberal-red socks. Joyce Murray brought in a west coast hippie fusion marimba band.

And just like “real” leadership conventions, the program started with a tribute to the outgoing leader featuring, among other things, the clip of Bob Rae skinny dipping with Rick Mercer. That left the candidates with the unenviable task of trying to make themselves more memorable than Bob Rae’s naked body glistening on a 70-foot High Definition screen. Bonne chance!

First up were Deborah Coyne and Karen McCrimmon – two candidates with little hope of winning, but who impressed for very different reasons.

McCrimmon is very much the anti-politician – she speaks honestly from the heart, in a style I truly hope never gets polished out by political consultants. She displayed her customary bluntness yet again, becoming the first politician to ever get bleeped on CPAC during a convention speech, after punctuating a colourful anecdote with a four letter word. The rest of her speech focused on the big picture, as she passionately urged Liberals to “follow your hearts and ignore the naysayers”.

If McCrimmon personified the Liberal Party’s heart at the Showcase, Coyne was the party’s head. While it may feel good to “ignore the naysayers”, the naysayers make a few valid points – especially those naysayers who no longer vote Liberal. Coyne gave Liberals the hard medicine they needed to hear, arguing “we are the third-place party today because, as we looked for the easy answer, Canadians lost sense of what we, as Liberals, stood for, and of what we bring to the table that is distinct from any other party.”

The other candidates performed largely as expected. Martin Cauchon gave a rousing speech, but he continued to play the golden oldies – same sex marriage, Kyoto, Kelowna, and Iraq. Joyce Murray offered a valiant defense of her co-operation plan, but connected far more with the crowd when talking about her experiences growing up in South Africa under apartheid. And while I question Martha Hall Findlay’s decision to borrow the theme song from “The Biggest Loser”, she looked relaxed and confident on stage, reminding Liberals that Harper wasn’t elected due to his sparkling personality and charisma but because he sticks to his convictions. Hint, hint.

Those were all fine speeches, but let’s be honest – Martin Cauchon could have healed a cripple with his touch on stage and the story of the day would still have been Justin Trudeau. Love him or hate him, his was the speech people came to watch.

With the current campaign all but over, Trudeau used his speech to signal what his next campaign, in 2015, will be about. He promised a message of “hope and hard work”, using optimism as a wedge issue against Harper and Mulcair. It’s a powerful message, because it’s one custom fit for Trudeau. The man oozes youthful optimism with every word he speaks, regardless of how hollow or cliche those words are.

Like hope, “hard work” is a promise Trudeau is especially well suited to deliver. Despite all the “silver spoon” attacks (or perhaps because of them), Trudeau has worked hard every step of his political career. While most in his position would have demanded appointment to a safe seat, Justin fought to win a contested nomination meeting many thought he would lose. He won back a Bloc riding in an election where the Liberal Party stumbled, and held it in an election where the party fell flat on its face. His insurmountable level of support this campaign is due as much to his willingness to attend hundreds of rubber chicken fundraisers coast-to-coast, as it is to his rock star appeal.

Liberals may not yet know where Justin stands on every issue, but they know they will soon have a leader who can credibly deliver a message of hope and a promise of hard work to voters. That’s a lethal combination, and it should give Liberals themselves a ray of hope that better days lay ahead.

Updated Power Rankings Show Trudeau in Control

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics, Fun with Numb3rs | 18 Comments
Karen McCrimmon recognizes the state of the race better than most.

Karen McCrimmon recognizes the odds she’s facing

When I released my first set of LPC Power Rankings in early February, I was a bit surprised to see Justin Trudeau up at 66%. These rankings aren’t intended to be a first ballot predictor, but they came pretty close to the mark in the NDP contest and it was still a bit of shock to see Trudeau 54 points above his nearest competitor. But wouldn’t you know it, Marc Garneau’s mystery poll was essentially spot on my numbers. So maybe there’s something to this.

And if there is, we are heading to an absolute rout.

Fundraising Endorsement Media Facebook Twitter Power Rank
Justin Trudeau $1,001,060 94% 60% 71,773 195,672 75% (+9)
Joyce Murray $169,411 5% 13% 1,998 5,615 9% (+4)
Martha Hall Findlay $178,590 1% 10% 8,571 7,819 7% (+1)
Martin Cauchon $103,203 1% 7% 2,565 1,609 4% (+3)
Karen McCrimmon $26,259 0% 6% 375 848 2% (+1)
Deborah Coyne $27,385 0% 5% 479 2,155 2% (+1)


You can see the methodology behind these rankings here. Since the last update, I’ve sweetened the recipe with ever-so-small weights for number of donors and Facebook “talking abouts”, but it doesn’t change the rankings.

The bracketed number on the final column reflects changes from the last update – you can consider it a “momentum” score of sorts, with everyone picking up some of the pieces from the Garneau, Takach, and Bertschi campaigns. Trudeau’s +9 score is nearly as much as the rest of the field combined, and he shows no signs of slowing down the stretch.

Nearly doubling her Power Score since the last update is Joyce Murray, who has raised an additional $100,000, picked up 1200 new Twitter followers and 800 likes, while earning an endorsement by Ted Hsu.

This sets up an interesting battle for second between Murray and Hall Findlay, but it appears to be a battle for a very, very distant second.

A True Debate

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 13 Comments

trudeau thumbs up
For a while we could pretend the Liberal leadership debates were going to effect the outcome of the race. It was just over a month ago that Martha Hall Findlay jabbed Justin Trudeau about his privileged upbringing, prompting many to wonder if this would be the turning point. A few weeks ago, all eyes were on the Trudeau-Garneau exchange, after the astronaut badgered the frontrunner over his lack of policy and substance.

Yesterday, everyone knew that what happened in Montreal would have little bearing on the outcome of a race which has already been decided. For a press corps who covers politics like sporting events, this was like sitting through the third period of a blowout – the signs of boredom were visible on Twitter, and their questions to the candidates in post debate scrums were essentially variations of “why aren’t you dropping out?“.

In response to said question, Deborah Coyne conceded she couldn’t win, but re-iterated the importance of debating ideas.

Indeed, if you looked beyond the sport and spectacle of it, there was real substance to be gleamed from yesterday’s debate.

In addition to what seem to have become the compulsory debate topics of pot legalization and supply management, there were meaningful exchanges on C-54, CIDA, open nominations, and the retirement age. There weren’t a lot of sound byte zingers, but for a party trying to figure out what it stands for, these were topics that needed to be discussed. Martha Hall Findlay and Deborah Coyne had a great exchange on education, identifying problems, quoting figures, and offering solutions. Later, it would be Findlay and Murray weighing the pros and cons of pipelines. And everyone got to have their say about co-operation with the Greens and NDP. While I’m not a co-operation proponent, it’s a debate the party needs to have, and it’s important for voters to know exactly where the frontrunner stands.

On that question, there was no doubt. Trudeau initiated the debate with Murray, and promptly dismissed co-operation as a “single minded, win-at-all-costs” idea that would remove choices from voters and leave Mulcair as PM. He, quite rightly in my opinion, argued that voters would not respond to a “hodge podge coalition” whose only uniting message was that they weren’t Stephen Harper. In the NDP leadership race, Mulcair’s victory slammed the orange door shut on co-operation, and it is now assured that Trudeau’s will have the exact same effect on the red door.

Another issue the Liberal Party needs to sort out is the “Quebec question”, especially in light of new Quebec Liberal leader Philippe Couillard’s musings this week. And once again, the next Liberal leader left no doubts where he stood. After touching on the topic in a break out debate with Martin Cauchon, Trudeau tossed out his prepared closing statement to revisit the issue. He talked of moving past “old squabbles and quarrels”, arguing we’ve spent too long trying to buy off Quebec rather than asking Quebecers to be at the table building the future of Canada.

Trudeau’s detractors will dismiss this as more “hopey changey” baffle-gab that sounds pretty but means nothing. However, in the process of gabbing, Trudeau said “non” to another round of constitutional talks and re-iterated his support for the Clarity Act. More importantly, he said it in language voters can relate to and feel good about – something Jack Layton was a master of, but Michael Ignatieff could never quite pull off. In two years, Trudeau will need to debate Thomas Mulcair on this very topic, so the practice was helpful.

Indeed, if this leadership race has been nothing more than a training exercise for Justin Trudeau, it’s training that will serve him well very soon.

“Brazeau Vows to Fight Charges”

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

trudeau brazeau

Sen. Patrick Brazeau tweets vow to fight charges against him

Sen. Patrick Brazeau did not attend a brief hearing Friday over charges of assault and sexual assault against him, and maintained his innocence in a passionate tweet.

The 38-year-old’s lawyers claimed they had not received full disclosure of evidence against their client, forcing the hearing to be pushed to June.

Brazeau has pleaded not guilty to the charges, and on Friday afternoon made his first direct public comment on the allegations, tweeting, “I will fight these charges against me to prove my innocence. I shall return!”



If history is any indication, the smart money is on the charges knocking Brazeau out in the third round. (pause) OK, sometimes they’re just too easy.

But on a semi-serious note, we’re now coming up on the one-year anniversary of the much hyped fight between “Senator Soldier” and “the Shiny Pony”. I remember rolling my eyes at the metaphor overdrive that followed Trudeau’s upset victory – how it was a brilliant political calculation, how this showed his true grit. I know in politics a dropped football can become more than a dropped football, but the whole thing seemed too gimmicky to assign a greater meaning to it.

Still…

A year later, it’s impossible to look back and not be somewhat taken aback at just how dramatically the respective career paths of the two combatants have diverged. I didn’t think it was possible for one man to embroil himself in as many controversies in so short a time frame as Brazeau has – there was the sexist slur on Twitter, his abysmal attendance record, the residence audit, the Teresa Spence taunting, and finally domestic violence charges that saw him booted from the Tory Caucus. I know he wasn’t exactly a rising political star before the fight, but to see him pummeled to the mat time and time again over the past year has been shocking.

In the other corner, Justin Trudeau was already a rising star, but in March 2012 no one expected him to run for LPC leader and, if you floated his name as a candidate, many would have dismissed him outright. For all the talk we hear these days of his “inevitability”, you could have found more than a few Liberals willing to place money against Justin a year ago.

In the alternate Fringe universe where Patrick Brazeau knocks out Justin Trudeau, prompting squeals of delight from Ezra Levant, Brazeau probably still disgraces himself and Trudeau probably still becomes the next Liberal leader.

But the entire story certainly makes you wonder about how political metaphors can come alive and take on a life of their own.

Coronation

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts | 25 Comments
I look forward to the debates during Prince Charles' coronation.

I look forward to the debates during Prince Charles’ coronation.

The media reaction to Marc Garneau’s exit from the Liberal leadership race has not been kind. The party is “not a happy place“, the race is a “fiasco“, this is the “worst-case scenario“, is the Liberal Party serious?”. I haven’t checked out SunNews’ take, but I’d imagine they aren’t overly ebullient either.

None of this should be surprising. The media treats politics like a sporting event, and it’s hard to write a compelling story about the Dream Team rolling over Kazakhstan by 40 points. This has led to the return of the dreaded “c” word – coronation (I’ve even been guilty of using it in a few posts). With a Trudeau victory now innevitable, the term is being flung around derisively, with many drawing parallels to Ignatieff’s ascension in 2009.

However, that’s a completely unfair characterization of the race, and comparisons to the Ignatieff coronation are laughable. Just a month into that contest, the National Executive named Ignatieff leader, denying party members a say in the process and effectively forcing Leblanc and Rae to drop out. There were no debates and the final ballot had just a single name on it.

This time, we’ve been treated to one of the most open leadership races in the history of Canadian politics. There were few restrictions to enter, and 9 candidates declared, giving Liberals uneasy about the frontrunner plenty of choices. Unlike past leaderships which have been decided by a select group of delegates and party elites at convention, this contest has been open to any Canadian who supports the Liberal Party. No backroom deals to deliver delegates, no rules restricting membership forms. Hell, you don’t even have to pay $10 to participate.

Anyone who wanted to run could run, anyone who wanted to vote could vote, and Liberals got a chance to see the candidates in a range of settings. Voters have had 6 months to scrutinize Justin, and they’ve reached their verdict. Even if the convention becomes a mere formality, much like those that follow US primaries, that doesn’t mean other candidates weren’t given a chance.

Now, it’s perfectly fair to say the Liberal Party is making the wrong choice. That they’ve been swept up in nostalgia and blinded by wavy hair. I can understand how many are frustrated at the lack of concrete policies coming from the frontrunner.

But when you run a fair and open leadership race with 9 candidates and one guy wins overwhelmingly, it’s not a coronation. It’s an election where the vast majority of voters came to the same conclusion.

Lost in Space

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 9 Comments

garneau trudeau

Marc Garneau’s withdrawal from the Liberal Leadership Race will certainly be overshadowed by the other leadership race which wrapped up today. But that’s kind of appropriate, since that’s been the story of his candidacy – despite being a genuine canadian hero, he has constantly found himself overshadowed.

During the height of Liberal dominance, the Natural Governing Party would have surely turned towards Marc Garneau. They had a habit of picking distinguished and respected men, choosing Louis St. Laurent in 1948 and Lester B. Pearson a decade later. Neither excited the masses, but they had the CV for the job and could be counted on for competent and steady leadership.

But politics has changed over the past 60 years, and the Liberal Party has changed over the last 6. This leadership race isn’t about electing the Prime Minister, or even the leader of the Opposition – it’s about finding someone who can lead the Liberals back to relevance. When party members want someone who can excite the masses and change the story, suddenly being the “safe choice” is more of a liability than an asset.

From the start, this race was never going to be about Marc Garneau. Even though Garneau has schools named after him, he was always the Liberal Party’s “safety school”, who the party would only turn to if their Plan A imploded. Given that Garneau’s own polling had him more than 50 points behind Trudeau, it’s clear that hasn’t happened.

If there were any doubts before today that Justin Trudeau was going to be the next Liberal leader, Garneau’s announcement makes it all but official. Ironically enough, Garneau just didn’t have the star power to compete.

Bart’s Books: Coyne Unscripted

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Book Reviews | 12 Comments
Deborah Coyne, her daughter, and Justin Trudeau's dad.

Deborah Coyne, her daughter, and Justin Trudeau’s dad.

Despite the ever growing sense that the LPC leadership race is all but over, as a voting member, I still intend to do my due diligence and fully research the candidates before casting my vote. And since Deborah Coyne is on the top half of my ballot at this point, I recently gave her new 85-page e-book a read through.

Contrary to what the newspaper excerpts would suggest, the book is not a check-out line tabloid about Pierre Trudeau (apart from the bombshell that our 15th Prime Minister didn’t trust microwaves). Nor is it a policy-heavy leadership manifesto. Rather, it’s very much a political memoir – albeit one no doubt written with this leadership race fully in mind.

So like all Canadian political memoirs, we get a bit about Coyne’s upbringing, passing mentions of watching hockey as a child, and tales from youthful travels to Soviet Russia. While the memoir touches upon her time with Pierre, and has a few passing mentions of Justin (and Marc Garneau) that will no doubt make readers smile, the body of the book focuses on her work fighting against the Meech Lake Accord. As a someone who believes in a strong central government, that spoke to me – but even Meech supporters would have to give Coyne grudging credit for sticking to her convictions.

Memoirs always cast their subject in the most flattering light possible, and the picture this one paints of Coyne is certainly appealing – a bold and highly driven individual, who has seen the world and had her nose in politics from a young age. In her twenties, she wrote and called the PMO to get herself credentialed for a Summit in Mexico, as part of her thesis research. The girl has spunk and, unlike Lou Grant, I’m a fan of spunk.

Indeed, after reading through the book, I was left with a far more positive impression of Coyne than I had coming in (and not just because she quotes a certain progressive blogger in it). Here’s someone who was fighting for greater grassroots engagement in the Liberal Party 30 years ago. Someone who sees the Liberal Party’s inability to define what it stands for as its largest challenge. Someone who genuinely believes in politics for a purpose.

That’s not to say Coyne has my vote. Although she has seen the political process from many vantage points, she lacks the elected experience and political skills of her more polished opponents. However, Coyne’s book is certainly worth a read for any undecided Liberal supporters – and not just for the Trudeau gossip.

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