Justin Trudeau

After Sleepy Summer, Liberal Leadership Race Should Heat Up

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 5 Comments

Bob Rae’s fateful decision to sit out the Liberal Leadership Race was expected to sound the starting pistol for a busy summer of campaigning from a crowded field of candidates. I don’t want to discount the dozens of Liberals who have spent August feeling the effects of Merner-mania, but it’s fair to say the race has been rather low-key.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The convention isn’t until April 2013 – a date selected so that the party could rebuild itself before sending the candidates into the Thunderdome. A heated race now would just be inviting “Liberal Leadership Race Drags On” headlines once the media inevitably tires of a 9-month contest.

However, every indication is things will be heating up shortly. Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said he will make a leadership decision by “the end of summer” and, as the back-to-school commercials will attest, the end of summer is here. Most expect an announcement at the Liberal Caucus meeting in Montebello next week, though that might get pushed back so that it doesn’t get buried under Quebec election news.

Justin’s decision will force the dozen or so “maybes” to make up their minds. A lot of the higher profile candidates likely aren’t overly keen on serving as Justin Trudeau’s debate prep, so I’d expect Kennedy, Leblanc, Cauchon and others to bow out if Trudeau declares.

But don’t count on a coronation. There are plenty of Liberals hesitant to roll the dice on Trudeau and, even those who will back him agree he needs to be tested in the fires of a leadership campaign before he fights a general election as party leader.

Martha Hall Findlay‘s mailing list was sent an invitation to a “Red bus revival” campaign meeting on September 4th, so she’s definitely kicking the tires. Marc Garneau is at “stage 3” of the decision making process (stage 1: deny interest, stage 2: set up anonymous “draft” campaign, stage 3: mull a run, stage 4: drop out to spend time with your family) and appears ready for lift off. Denis Coderre will announce plans to run for Liberal leader or Mayor of Montreal on November 9th – however my money is on door number 3, “run for Quebec Liberal leader”.

The other obstacle preventing the race from taking form is the minor detail that there is no race. The rules have yet to be announced including, most importantly, the entry fee. The price to play will determine how many of the “lesser known” candidates actually follow through – right now, that list includes Deborah Coyne, David Bertschi, David Merner, George Takach, Jonathan Mousley, Shane Geschiere, and LiberalWho.

So although there was little movement on the leadership front this summer, expect things to heat up as the temperature cools this fall. We should have a good idea how the race is looking by the time the NHL season starts NHL players hit the picket lines.

Liberal Leadership Round-Up

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 17 Comments

Who has two thumbs, a vintage belt buckle, and might be running for Liberal leader?

The “will he or won’t he” dance of Justin Trudeau continues, with reports that Gerald Butts will be heading up his leadership team – should Justin run, of course.

Trudeau’s trip to the Stampede did little to dampen speculation, though the annual parade of politicians in cowboy hats was more notable by who didn’t appear than who did. Of the 20+ names being floated for Liberal leadership, the only candidates who did the pancake circuit this year appear to be Trudeau, Hall Findlay, Merner, and Takach.

Indeed, the Cauchons, Kennedys, and Leblancs of the world might very well sit the leadership out if Trudeau steps into the ring, not wanting to play the part of Patrick Brazeau in this story. Martha Hall Findlay seems ready for a fight regardless, though it remains to be seen how much time she’ll have to campaign if she starts the leadership race in jail.

The Name Game

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics, Quebec Politics | 7 Comments

Despite all quantitative evidence to the contrary, trust me when I say Quebecers hate these two men more than the Boston Bruins

In today’s Globe & Mail, Lysianne Gagnon takes aim at Justin Trudeau:

Is Justin Trudeau really the Liberals’ best option?

If the Toronto Liberal intelligentsia believe that Justin Trudeau, being a Trudeau and a Quebecker, can revive their party’s fortunes in Quebec, they are mightily wrong. (One might also wonder if anybody can save the Liberal Party of Canada now that the NDP occupies the centre-left, but this is another question.)

Justin’s surname is as much a liability in French-speaking Quebec as it is in Alberta. Personally, I find this hostility regrettable and irrational to boot, but the reality is that more than anybody else, Trudeau Senior remains the nemesis not only of the sovereigntists but of all of Quebec’s “soft” nationalists.

Any mention of the former prime minister provokes even more anger and resentment in Quebec than in Alberta, where people still fume over the infamous national energy program, which was seen as a violation of the province’s right to control its natural resources.

On behalf of the Toronto Liberal intelligentsia, allow me to offer a brief rebuttal.

I don’t doubt that many Quebecers spit whenever they hear the Trudeau name, but despite what the Quebec chattering classes have been saying for decades, there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest this feeling is widespread.

Take this Angus Reid poll from last summer asking Canadians who they’d pick as the best Prime Minister from the past 40 years. Topping the list in Quebec, with 26% of the vote, was none other than Pierre Trudeau. That’s double the percentage ranking Trudeau the worst Prime Minister, and it’s double the vote share the Liberals received in Quebec last election.

Supporting Justin Trudeau’s pre-natal Liberal leadership bid because of his last name and lingering feelings for his father would be a mistake. Opposing it for that same reason would be downright folly.

Trudeau’s Poll Position

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics, Polls | 15 Comments

Many Canadians polled have heard of this man

It’s no secret that Liberals love power above all else, so it’s hard for any Liberal to stay immune to Trudeaumania when you see headlines like “Justin Trudeau could lead Liberals to first place, new poll shows” or “Trudeau could be Grits’ only hope, says pollster Graves“.

I’ll admit that seeing a Trudeau-led Liberal Party at 40% in the Angus Reid “fantasyland” poll caused my heart to flutter a little bit. Hell, it’s been a while since the Grits were anywhere near the 32% they hit in Forum’s less rosy Trudeau scenario. With numbers like this, it seems foolhardy for any other candidate to even consider running against the reluctant saviour. Let’s just arrange catering for the victory party, and wrap this leadership race up now!

While there are many good reasons why Justin Trudeau should run, and there are many good reasons why Liberals should consider supporting him, polls like this should be low down the list.

What’s being measured in these surveys is not how a politician will perform as leader, but how familiar voters are with them now – and what their superficial opinion of that politician is now. While voters may know and like Justin Trudeau, I suspect a Liberal Party led by Justin Bieber, Justin Timberlake, or Justin Long would poll just as high.

Obviously, it’s good that Canadians have a favourable image of Trudeau, since that will make it harder for the Tory smear machine to define him. But despite this level of name recognition, I’d wager that Trudeau is still largely undefined. Voters may remember his eulogy and his boxing match – they might like his name and his hair. That doesn’t mean they have any idea of the type of leader he’d be or how he’d perform as Prime Minister. They may not be considering those factors when a pollster calls them on a Saturday afternoon three years out from a general election, but they certainly will be before they vote. For proof on how quickly things can change, a similar hypothetical poll last fall had Thomas Mulcair 13 points behind the Conservatives – today, he leads.

Polls like these will no doubt tempt many Liberals. However, we’ve all spent the past year talking about how much the Liberal Party needs to do to rebuild and make itself relevant to Canadians again. It would be foolish to assume we’re one saviour away from a trip to the promised land.

Even if you believe the Liberals are one leadership change away from power (and, hey, we can all dream), the best leader is not neccesarily the one with the highest level of name recognition today. If it were, I’d be starting a “Draft Bieber” blog.

Rae’s Play

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts, Federal Politics | 28 Comments

Rae has milked the interim leader title for all its worth

In perhaps the least surprising news story of the year, Bob Rae appears set to announce his candidacy for Liberal leadership for the third time in the last six years. Say what you will about the man (and I’m about to say plenty), but he has proven the haters who called him a “tourist” in the Liberal Party wrong.

The controversy over Rae’s candidacy stems from his now infamous pledge to accept the interim leader title on the condition that he not be a candidate for permanent leader. At the time, I cheered on the decision to name Rae interim leader and assumed his stint as “Bob the Rebuilder” would let him transition to a role as one of the party’s most respected elder statesmen. After all, Rae himself said he wasn’t interested in the permanent job, that his wife wasn’t down with it, and that it was time for a new generation of leadership.

No doubt Rae’s leadership team has already drafted the messaging to extract him from this promise. I assume Bob will shrug and say he’s following the rules of the National Executive, even though this is a smokescreen argument – it was always Rae’s promise and his promise alone that prevented him from running. As we’ve seen too many times before, there’s no law preventing politicians from breaking promises.

With that in mind, Rae’s team will privately argue that he is far from the first politician to break his word, and that he is not alone in saying he had no intention to run before declaring. After all, every politician begins their career by denying they have aspirations of leadership (and ends it by saying they want to spend more time with their family). Team Rae will argue that Rae’s change of heart is no different than, say, Justin Trudeau’s – should Justin decide to run.

The difference with Rae’s situation should be obvious, but I feel like this is one of those obvious truths that’s going to need a lot of repeating over the next year, so here goes: Rae accepted the interim leadership on the condition that he not run for permanent leader. This is akin to a politician getting elected on a single issue campaign, then flip flopping before the ballots are counted on election night. Asking the national executive to absolve Rae of his pledge would be as silly as Harper asking Parliament to pass a motion “freeing” him from his election promises.

Faced with this, Rae’s supporters will say “what’s the harm?”.

The harm from Rae’s gambit is that the reason for delaying the Liberal leadership race was to give the interim leader two years to focus 100% of his or her efforts on rebuilding the party. Instead, we’ve seen a 24/7 sideshow of leadership speculation, culminating in the need to select yet another interim leader. By the time a new leader is named next spring, the Liberal Party will have had 8 leaders over the past decade – hardly the sign of a stable organization.

More importantly, there’s the issue of fairness. Being interim leader brings with it several tangible benefits. While I don’t believe Rae has abused his powers, the interim leader could theoretical woo potential supporters with critic portfolios, committee seats, and QP time – all the while keeping rivals out of view. More importantly, the leader’s staff and budget give him the ability to criss-cross the country on the party dime, meeting potential supporters and organizers.

The very title of “interim leader” also brings with it a soapbox to control the agenda. As an example of this, I point to Rae’s caucus speech in January extoling the virtues of Ontario’s early 90s NDP government. “Rae defends NDP record” wasn’t the headline the Liberal Party needed that day, and it’s certainly not the type of speech Bill Graham would have given back in 2006.

There’s also the reality that being interim leader makes it a lot easier for Liberals to visualize Rae in a leadership role. That’s the same reason the incumbent is usually named “Best PM” on polls (even if his party trails), and it’s the same reason companies will often keep on a contract worker when a permanent position opens up.

This is why interim leaders should not be allowed to run for the permanent position – especially when that interim leader was appointed by an ever dwindling caucus rather than the membership. It’s why Jack Layton wanted Nicole Turmel to follow him in the interim, rather than someone with leadership ambitions of their own. It’s why Bob Rae and others objected strongly when the National Executive named Michael Ignatieff Liberal interim leader in December 2008.

If Rae does decide to run, it seems likely the race will turn into a divisive bloodbath, centered around the issue of when it’s ok to break promises. While nasty leadership battles are nothing new for the Liberal Party, this is hardly the recipe for renewal. Just as Rae’s leadership ambitions have been an unecesary distraction over the past year, Rae’s broken promise risks becoming an unecessary distraction from issues of substance in the leadership race.

Regardless of what the National Executive decides on Wednesday, Rae is free to run for permanent leader.

But he shouldn’t.

Liberal Leadership Update: Trudeaumania?

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 7 Comments

The Liberal Party’s National Executive is set to meet next Wednesday to set the party’s leadership race rules. Shortly thereafter, Bob Rae will announce his intentions and, from there, the dominos will fall. With BBQ season soon upon us, it won’t take long to figure out who’s running, even if the formal declarations take a bit of time.

One name we are certain to hear a lot about, regardless of whether or not he declares, is Justin Trudeau. In 1968, his dad was a late entry to the race, announcing his candidacy just 50 days before the leadership vote. If Liberals or the media are unsatisfied with the current crop of candidates (a safe bet), we’re likely to hear noise from the Draft Trudeau machine right up until Christmas.

My feeling was always that Justin would be best to wait until “the next time” to run for leader, and I suspect that’s always been his personal preference. However, there’s a very real danger there won’t be a “next time” so there’s a case to be made for seizing the moment, for the good of the Liberal Party. The argument is that Trudeau has the star power neccesary to keep the party relevant, is able to communicate and connect with Canadians, and that despite his name, he’d put a fresh face on a tired brand.

I’m not saying I necesarily buy that argument, but I wouldn’t dismiss it outright.

Pierre's candidacy launched by knocking out Daniel Johnson at constitutional talks. Justin's? By KO of Patrick Brazeau.

 

Less coy about his intentions is David Bertschi, who is wisely getting his name out there early, to build profile. He’s saying the right things, though I wonder if his Bertschi2012 web url is a sign he’s fated to drop out well before the vote actually happens in 2013.

An update on all the people MAYBE running for Liberal leadership

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

The expectation is that rules for the Liberal leadership race will come down in June, setting the stage for a summer of getting to know the men and women wanting to lead Canada’s third party.

But while we won’t know the rules of the race for another month or two, that hasn’t limited speculation in the interim…or speculation about the interim leader, for that matter.

Back in January, I looked at the ten most commonly rumoured Liberal leadership candidates…and 18 fun longshots – the Naheed Nenshis and Amanda Langs of the world. Today, an update on the names that were most on the lips of delegates at the Liberal Party of Canada (Ontario) convention in Toronto this past weekend.

Don’t count on it

From that January list of ten “buzz” candidates, we can likely scratch off Scott Brison and Dominic Leblanc. While their names still get floated in most newspaper articles, the Liberals I know who would be first in line to support them aren’t expecting either Maritimer to toss their cap into the ring.

Which is a shame, because both represent the kind of generational change the party needs – and both are highly engaging and entertaining speakers, with pleasant demeanors that would contrast nicely with the gruff angry man personas of Harper and Mulcair.

The Big Names

While this is very much anybody’s race to win, in my mind there are three candidates who would instantly vault to frontrunner status if they ran.

Trudeau. McGuinty. Rae.

All three are political superstars with the name recognition and organizations that would make them very difficult to beat.

While Justin Trudeau has done his best Chris Christie impersonation by repeatedly denying he has any interest in running, there have been new rumblings about his potential candidacy in recent months – and they haven’t just been fueled by his TKO of Senator Brazeau, or idle media speculation.

The word on the street is that Justin is listening to the calls for him to run, though I’m still skeptical he’ll move beyond the listening stage. The man has shown remarkable restraint thus far in his political career, so the smart money is on him waiting until next time. That said, if the Liberals make the wrong choice there may not be a “next time”.

The reaction to Dalton McGuinty at January’s convention was electric, and he would enter the race with a formidable track record and political machine behind him. But given he’s fighting tooth and nail to tip the scales in Ontario to a majority, I seriously doubt he’d resign his own seat and plunge the OLP into a leadership race. There’s also the harsh reality that, for perhaps the first time since confederation, leading the Ontario Liberal Party is a more glamorous job than leading the federal Liberal Party.

Of course, if big brother isn’t interested, perhaps little brother will be. David McGuinty was one of the first candidates to openly muse about a leadership bid, but he’s never acted like someone coveting the top job. The man rarely leaves his own riding and was a no-show in Toronto this weekend.

So what about Bob? One year ago, Rae categorically ruled it out, solemnly swearing he would not seek the top job, saying it was time for “a new generation of leadership”. Now? He says a decision hasn’t been made, and he’s waiting on the rules. It’s a politician’s answer, and even his most ardent critics agree Rae may be one of the greatest politicians of his time. For this reason, many would follow him without hesitation if he runs – but others are so dead set against Rae they’d sooner back Alfonso Gagliano.

Seriously considering a run

Martha Hall Findlay sounds like the most serious of the “maybe” candidates. She’s been sending out newsletters, holding events, and getting herself in front of cameras – Findlay herself acknowledges it’s “not a secret” she’s thinking about it. While Martha was the plucky underdog the last time she ran for leader, she’s definitely in it to win it this go around.

Also from the class of 2006 is Gerard Kennedy, who has openly mused about running. Kennedy was ahead of his time with his “renewal” themed campaign, back when Liberals assumed everything could be fixed with a new leader. He has continued to beat that drum of late, holding renewal roundtables, renewal BBQs, and renewal pub nights. The real key for Kennedy will be how many renewal french lessons he’s taken in the past few years.

One of the guests at Gerard’s Political Renewal Fair a few weeks back was Kirsty Duncan. Duncan would be a great addition to the race, as an intelligent well spoken woman. If she runs, expect a strong focus on Health Care and the environment from her campaign, as she has written books on these topics.

Envisagent sérieusement de briguer le poste de chef

If you buy into the alternance theory of Liberal leadership, it’s time for a francophone leader, and there are certainly plenty of candidates from La Belle Province making noise.

The loudest has been Marc Garneau. Like Ken Dryden in 2006, Garneau has plenty of star power, but the question comes down to whether or not he has the right stuff to lead. I hope he runs, if only because I have a dozen out of this world astronaut puns that will go to waste if he takes a pass.

Even though Martin Cauchon and Denis Coderre have never run for Liberal Party leadership, they’ve each spent more than a decade thinking about it. I suspect Coderre’s future lies in provincial or municipal politics, though he will undoubtedly be a major asset for whichever campaign he winds up backing this go round.

Cauchon held a hospitality suite at the national convention and attended the LPCO convention this weekend – a clear signal he’d like to take on Thomas Mulcair not just in Outremont, but on the national stage. Believe it or not, he’ll only turn 50 this summer, but in some ways going with Cauchon would feel like a throwback to the Chretien era. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I’m not sure that’s the mood of the membership.

It doesn’t take a lot to start a leadership rumour, so the fact that Mauril Belanger quit the official languages committee and then showed up in Toronto this weekend was enough to get people talking. Of course, being an Ontario MP, you’d expect him to be at an LPCO convention. And of all the things holding Mauril back from a run for Liberal leadership, I really don’t think his spot on the official languages committee was very high on the list. But such is life in politics, where a new pair of glasses is taken as a sign of leadership aspirations.

People you’ve never heard of

The candidates making the most noise about running at this point are the ones with no chance of winning. After all, given enough time, a politician can delude himself into thinking he has a chance at winning anything. Moreover, Martha Hall Findlay and Martin Singh’s longshot campaigns did wonders to raise their profiles, so it’s not even always about winning in the conventional sense.

The most credible of the “no names” appears to be defeated candidate David Bertschi, a persistent worker who ran a strong campaign in Ottawa Orleans last spring. Bertschi is assembling a team, has a website, and has launched a teaser video that tells us a lot about Canada’s potential as a country…but little about Bertschi’s potential as a candidate. Bertschi is a dynamic speaker one-on-one, and everyone who talked to him at the LPCO convention, myself include, left impressed.

Also making the rounds at the Sheraton this weekend was Toronto businessman George Takach. While he lacks elected experience, he’ll have no trouble raising money and, in the end, the amount of coin you bring in is the deciding factor in how long you can stay in the race.

Another name being floated is David Merner, the president of the BC wing of the federal Liberal Party. I’ve never met Merner, but this race needs a western voice or two, and to date Joyce Murray is the only MP west of Etobicoke making any noise about running.

Happy Anniversary!

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in 2011 Federal Election, Federal Politics | Leave a comment

One year ago today, Stephen Harper turned an “unwanted election” into his first majority government, Jack Layton and the NDP soared to never before seen heights, and Liberals spent the evening curled up in a fetal position sobbing in the corner.

On political anniversaries, it’s tempting to give each party a thumbs up or thumbs down, but the past year has been less clear cut, as the major parties try to figure out where they fit in Canada’s new political dynamic.

The Conservatives

It feels like a “Harper majority” was hyped longer than the Phantom Menace – and the end result was just as much of a letdown. After years of being told by both the right and left that a Harper majority would mean an unrecognizable country, it turns out a Harper majority looks a lot like a Harper minority. I hardly think when people warned of his “hidden agenda”, abolishing the penny is what they had in mind.

So if the past year has proven anything, it’s that Stephen Harper has always been and always will be an incrementalist. He has made some changes – goodbye gun registry, so long Katimavik…CBC and Statscan, you can stay, but we’ll make your job a bit harder, in the hope the public begins to question your value. These are bigger changes than he made during the minority years, but the man isn’t reshaping Canada as we know it.

While none of those moves prompted a large backlash, there are storm clouds on the horizon. The F-35 fiasco could tarnish his reputation as a strong financial manager. A stagnant economy would speak directly against the ballot question he was elected on. Robocon could blow up in his face. Bev Oda is still in Cabinet, so that alone guarantees us a few hilarious screw ups.

Outlook: Harper survived year one of the majority unscathed, but he survived with Nicole Turmel as leader of the opposition. The next year will be harder than the last.

The NDP

The past 13 months have been the most turbulent in this “new” party’s long history, filled with highs, lows…and voting delays.

Jack Layton’s death was tragic, but life has gone on for the Dippers. Their leadership race may not have generated the excitement they hoped it would, but they came out of it with the only leader who has a realistic shot at ever living at 24 Sussex, so that’s a point in their column.

With the exception of a few easily forgotten floor crossings, their rookie caucus hasn’t been the embarrassment we thought it would be, so that’s another point for the boys in orange.

Outlook: Mulcair is in the midst of his leadership honeymoon, but he’s been treated to the kid gloves by the Conservatives so far. That’s going to change if Harper ever decides Mulcair is a legitimate threat.

The Liberals

On March 31st, Justin Trudeau knocked out Tory Senator Patrick Brazeau. There haven’t been many highlights over the other 365 days since election night.

That’s not to say Liberal rebuilding hasn’t gone on behind the scenes. The party picked a new president with a lot of good ideas. Today, the Liberals became Canada’s most open party by letting supporters register to vote for the leader. Liberals finally get that the party needs fixing, and I’ve been surprised at the number of new faces I’ve seen at events over the past year – people who joined the party after May 2nd, because they wanted to save it.

In front of the scenes, Rae has performed well in the interim leader’s role, but the “will he or won’t he” saga around his leadership has been a distraction.

Outlook: The next year will be all about leadership, as the Liberals pick the man or woman who will either oversee the party’s death or its return to relevance. No pressure, though.

The Bloc

Can’t say I miss them.

A Rare Liberal Victory

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in Uncategorized | 1 Comment




Liberal Leadership Marathon Runners

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

I posted 8 Simple Rules for the Liberal Leadership Race a few weeks ago, prompting a few readers to ask for my thoughts on the candidates. The short answer to that is simply: it’s too early to tell. This thing won’t be decided for nearly two years, so predicting the outcome at this point is little more than wild speculation.

That said, it’s the month of July and there’s little else to speculate about in the new majority government reality, so let’s go wild!

Consider this the first in a series of Liberal Leadership Power Rankings to be updated every couple of months, ranking the rumoured candidates based on their likelihood of winning. Be forewarned, this is based on little more than idle chatter and my own biased opinions.

1. Dominic LeBlanc: This race is likely to have more of a 2006 than a 2008 feel to it – that is to say, I’d expect a wide open field with a high possibility of a “surprise” winner. But if I had to pick a frontrunner at this point, it would likely be Dom, if for no other reason than he appears to be the only candidate almost certain to run. I thought Dominic was the best candidate last time, and he’d bring a lot to the table – a good mix of youth and experience, and he’s likely the best bet to make the party relevant outside of its Toronto-base (if you can call what’s left in the GTA a “base”).

2. Justin Trudeau: A LeBlanc-Trudeau showdown would bring back memories of the Rae-Ignatieff “roommate races”, as the Trudeau and LeBlanc kids all knew each other growing up. While many will no doubt support or oppose Justin because of his name, he’s an impressive candidate in his own right, and likely the most charismatic contender at this point. The only reason he doesn’t sit number 1 on the list is that he’s hinted (publicly at least) he might bide his time and skip the race.

3. Bob Rae: Yes, I know he’s said he won’t run. And I do take Bob at his word that he has no intention of removing “interim” from his title. But consider a scenario where the Liberals are back in second place in the polls come October 2012. A few anonymous “insiders” begin murmuring to Jane Taber about the great job Bob Rae has done as interim leader, and a “draft Bob” campaign starts up online. It’s certainly not science fiction and, despite his age, it would be hard to discount Rae due to his organization, political smarts, and speaking skills.

4. David McGuinty: Like Justin, McGuinty will be judged by his last name. Whether that’s for better or for worse will depend on what happens this October, but McGuinty should be able to assemble a fairly strong team if he does decide to run.

5. Marc Garneau: He missed out on the interim job, but if you buy the “alternance” theory or like the idea of poaching some of those orange seats in Quebec, Garneau could make for an intriguing choice. As a bonus, it might be harder for the Tories to smear the reputation of a national hero – obviously they still would, but at least they’d have to work a bit harder at it.

6. Scott Brison: Consider this a sleeper pick of sorts, since Scott has said he’s not interested. But a lot can change in 2 years. Brison is young, a gifted communicator, and embodies the “fiscally responsible, socially progressive” label most Liberals assign to themselves.

Although the above are the most talked about candidates, there’s a strong change the eventual winner’s name isn’t on that list. Defeated candidates like Martin Cauchon, Gerard Kennedy, or Martha Hall Findlay could run. With a slew of provincial elections coming up this fall, the timing will be good for any number of provincial politicians to jump federally. Less well known caucus members could make a name for themselves in Parliament.

And heck, maybe if we’re lucky we can find a University professor at Harvard with some time on his hands.

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