Marc Garneau

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.

Liberal Speed Dating Helps Voters Make Their Choice

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Featured Posts | 52 Comments

Trudeau Findlay
While the sit-down interview format of the last “debate” served as a nice introduction, the timid questions served up by Harvey Locke didn’t give us any sense of how the candidates would perform in the heat of an election campaign.

Saturday, we were treated to a series of short two-way and three-way debates, with many of the questions asked by the candidates themselves. Yes, a few of the exchanges were so pleasant you’d think you were watching Liberal speed dating – as Karen McCrimmon playfully remarked at one point, “another opportunity for radical agreement“. But there were also difficult, substantive questions. Regardless of where Deborah Coyne ranks on your leadership ballot, she proved herself to be a fantastic moderator. Going head-to-head with Justin Trudeau, who dwarfs her both literally and figuratively, she held her ground asking him where he stood on granting Quebec special powers for immigration. After Marc Garneau dodged her question about the need for a national referendum on electoral reform, Coyne forcefully pressed him for an answer.

The more confrontational nature of the debate led to flubbed answers, awkward moments, and even a few boos. Joyce Murray and George Takach had a gawky exchange where Murray derisively referred to Takach as a “Bay Street Lawyer” with “experience off-shoring jobs to China”, prompting Takach to shoot back by belittling her work planting trees. When Takach tossed out another jab later in the debate, solidifying himself as the “anti-tree” candidate, he was met with smattered boos. Given the race isn’t going to come down to a Takach-Murray final ballot, this melee likely didn’t do either of them any favours.

Not every segment contained political oration that moved and inspired, but as a genuinely undecided Liberal member, this is exactly what I was looking for in a debate. By putting candidates’ feet to the fire, it became clear who could handle the heat of an election campaign and who would be deep fried by Harper and Mulcair during a federal election debate.

So we learned that Deborah Coyne knows her shit, Joyce Murray has a lot of bold ideas, Marc Garneau can be affable, and Martha Hall Findlay is confident. But the candidate who really impressed was Justin Trudeau.

No one has ever denied Justin’s talent and potential, but the ballot question of the entire race has been whether or not he’s ready for the big leagues.

Admittedly, debating Harper and Mulcair is an entirely different thing than debating David Bertschi and Karen McCrimmon, but Trudeau held his ground. After a shaky first exchange with Marc Garneau on his qualifications for the job, Trudeau bounced back in a big way. He answered Deb Coyne’s immigration question by showing he knew the issues, mixing reason and passion into his response. Responding to criticism he lacks substance, he sprinkled in policy nuggets on eliminating boutique tax credits and giving the federal government a larger role in education. No, there were no specifics, much to the chagrin of some of us, but it was meatier than the usual “help the middle class” platitudes.

Which brings us to the defining moment of the debate. In one of the final exchanges, Martha Hall Findlay moved in to attack Trudeau over the “middle class” focus of his campaign. Her point was a valid one – that we should aspire to be a classless society, and that a focus on the middle class leaves the less fortunate behind. However, Findlay turned her critique into an aggressive jab at Trudeau’s upbringing, telling him he couldn’t understand middle class issues, sine he wasn’t a member of it. Prefacing a call for a class-free society with a class-based attack was classless, and the crowd responded with another round of boos.

Trudeau seized the moment, responding with an eloquent and emotional rebuttal, pointing to his experiences as an MP in Papineau. It was a clip that would have led off every newscast had it occurred during a federal leaders debate.

There are still many questions about whether or not Justin is up for the job, but he answered a few of them Saturday.

Star Wars

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 29 Comments
Don't let the astronaut puns and cute photo-ops fool you - Marc Garneau means business.

Don’t let the astronaut puns and cute photo-ops fool you – Marc Garneau means business.

Marc Garneau fires the first photon torpedo of the leadership race:

Leadership means taking a stand

I believe this leadership race is the time for the party to vigorously debate the issues of importance to Liberals, to Canadians; to define where we stand as a party; and to select the person who can best lead us.

That’s the fundamental difference between Justin Trudeau and myself.

Justin believes telling Canadians we need a ‘bold’ plan and a ‘clear vision’ without defining either is good enough. He speaks in vague generalities, and on his two key priorities – the middle-class and youth – he has presented no direction.

Justin says he will do that after the Liberal leadership race is over – sometime before the next election in 2015.

As Liberals, we cannot wait that long to find out what we signed up for.

That is like asking Canadians to buy a new car without first test-driving it.

We must know what we are voting for, not just who we are voting for.



On the whole, it’s a mostly valid critique. Outside of his article on the Nexen takeover and an impressive party reform package, Justin has run a typical frontrunner photo-op campaign. Of course, many of those photo ops have been followed by questions from the public, other candidates, and the media, so it’s unfair to say he hasn’t taken any clear stands – we know he’s for pot legalization, against co-operation with the NDP, for the Clarity Act, against a new gun registry, and for Supply Management.

So it’s not like Justin flew to Europe for the entire leadership contest, the way Mackenzie King did in 1919. And there’s certainly something appealing to his rebuttal that he wants the platform to be a collaborative effort, and not something he’d impose on the party.

Still, I can’t help returning to what I wroteback when Justin declared his intentions to run for leader:

With Trudeau’s objective re-defined as victory over Stephen Harper rather than victory over Marc Garneau, the wishy-washy rockstar campaign begins to look less appealing. We all know attack ads are coming, and we don’t need to see Conservative Party focus group reports to know these ads will try to brand Justin Trudeau as an airhead and a lightweight (or as Andrew Coyne put it on The National: “flibbertigibbet“). If Trudeau wants to erase this caricature before it is drawn, the leadership race is the perfect venue to do that. We know the media will hover on every word Justin says over the next six months, so he’d be foolish to not take advantage of the microphones that will be in front of his face.



I understand Trudeau wanting to keep his options open and I certainly don’t expect him to release a detailed platform. Nor should he, if he’s genuinely committed to engaging the grassroots in the process. However, the eyes of the country will be on Justin for the next two months and I’m sure he’d rather spend that time showing Canadians that he’s a substantive politician, rather than fending off accusations from all sides that he’s a lightweight.

Liberals One-on-One

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race | 13 Comments
CAPTION

The moderator failed to ask the tough questions, such as “Mr. Bertschi, why on earth are you wearing that scarf?

My mind has been on the Ontario Liberal leadership race the past few months, so I’ll admit to not having paid close attention to the federal contest. Not wanting to feel left out the next time a lively debate over Karen McCrimmon’s proposals on income tax reform breaks out at a dinner party, I decided to tie myself down and watch the second Liberal Leadership Debate this weekend.

Of course “debate” is a charitable way to describe what took place Saturday, in much the same way “race” is a charitable way to describe Justin Trudeau’s victory march. Rather than the conventional debate format, Liberals were treated to defeated Calgary Centre by-election candidate Harvey Locke conducting nine separate one-in-one interviews. Sort of like Barbara Walters’ “10 most fascinating people”, except there were 9 people, and most of them weren’t very fascinating.

This format marked quite the deviation from the norm, so candidates could be forgiven for displaying a bit of confusion – I believe Marc Garneau thought he was a contestant on the Bachelorette, as he led off talking about how much he loves to vacuum and cook (his specialty is frittata). Snap this man up ladies!

Kidding aside, I actually think this was a worthwhile exercise. There are 5 official debates before the National Showcase, so why not experiment with different formats? After all, whoever wins will likely participate in 2 debates over the next five years and hundreds, if not thousands, of interviews. Personally, I found that Martha Hall Findlay, Deborah Coyne, and David Bertschi performed much better under this format than they did at the first debate, and that’s useful information for Liberals to consider while deciding who to support.

The interview format also puts the lie to the claim that leadership race debates are true debates, comparable to the ones we see in general election. Even though the media always acts surprised when leadership candidates trip over each other offering self-congratulatory pats on the back, that’s to be expected – no one wants to find themselves in the next “do you think it is easy to make priorities” commercial and, in the end, leadership candidates are all part of the same team and all share largely the same vision for the country. Forget the ellusive knock-out punch, there’s rarely so much as air boxing.

This leaves candidates with few opportunities for clash and rebuttal, turning the “debate” into nothing more than a series of 15-second sound bytes. So if we aren’t getting anything more than talking points, why not expand them out, offering candidates an opportunity to display substance?

And that’s exactly what we got Saturday. Case in point was Martha Hall Findlay’s response to a question on the breakout issue of this race – supply management. In two minutes, she provided a history and explanation of the system, rebutted 6 common arguments for the status quo, and gave an impassioned plea for change. It’s the type of substantive appeal you would never see in a debate, yet it shed a lot of light on the issue and on Martha’s candidacy.

So the problem was not so much the format, but the timidity with which Mr. Locke approached his job as moderator. He lobbed batting practice softballs, along the lines of “so…climate change…that’s a big deal, huh?”. Obviously enough, Locke’s role isn’t to dig for a “gotcha moment” or embarrass anyone, but there were times when a follow-up was called for. Take the question to Martin Cauchon on supply management. Cauchon gave an impassioned plea to preserve the system, for the sake of food safety, arguing that dismantling it would lead to contaminated eggs and milk. Surely that deserved some kind of follow up or, at the very least, a “say what?”.

On the few occasions Locke did ask follow-ups, it actually allowed the candidates shine. Probed on a toss-away point about minimum sentences, David Bertschi gave a very compelling argument against them. When Locke asked George Takach about international and border problems that would flow from pot legalization, Talach was able to confidently point to Washington State’s recent vote to legalize, showing he’d given the issue due consideration.

In US primaries, leadership candidates are treated like full fledged presidential contenders, allowing voters to separate the chaff from the wheat. The Liberal Party is searching for someone who can withstand the rigors and nastiness of an all-out election campaign, so it does the candidates a disservice to treat them with the kid gloves in these leadership forums. Only by asking the tough questions will we be able to see who is able to give compelling answers.

Liberal Leadership Pool

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race | 30 Comments

Who will cross the finish line first?

While a Justin Trudeau cakewalk in the Liberal leadership race doesn’t seem quite as inevitable as it did two weeks ago, most pundits still regard his win as inevitable. However, while discussing the relative strengths of the Coyne and Takach campaigns over drinks last week, it occurred to me there’s a fair amount of intrigue as you move down the ballot. Kind of like betting whether the Marxist-Leninists can beat the Animal Alliance in your riding.

With that in mind, I present the ultimate test for policos – the Calgary Grit Liberal Leadership Pool. All you need to predict is the first ballot rank of the candidates, who will win, how many ballots it will go, and what percentage of the vote Justin Trudeau will receive on the first ballot. So, for example, your entry might, but likely won’t, look like:

1. Bertschi
2. Trudeau (31% on first ballot)
3. Murray (winner on third ballot)
4. Findlay
5. Takach
6. Coyne
7. Garneau

If you think someone is going to drop out before the votes are counted, then don’t include them on your list. For scoring, you’ll get 2 points for every candidate correctly ranked, 1 point if you’re off their rank by one spot, and -1 points if you list them on the ballot and they don’t make it to voting day. Toss in 5 bonus points for the correct winner, 2 for the right number of ballots, and up to 3 points depending how close you are to Trudeau’s vote share.

To enter, write down your picks in the comments section or e-mail them to me at calgarygrit@gmail.com. You can enter until Christmas Day, but the tie-break will be whoever submits their entry first.

And the tie-break matters because the winner’s prize will be an assortment of candidate memorabilia. I’ve already picked buttons up from George Takach and Martha Hall Findlay events, but this collection will grow as the campaign progresses.

If you want to do a bit of background research on your entries, feel free to check out my Liberal Party leadership portal for information, news, and contact information for the 6 official and 5 declared leadership candidates.

Bring on the Astronaut Puns

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics | 11 Comments

Marc Garneau, C.C., CD, Ph.D., F.C.A.S.I., MP – Canadian hero and the Liberal Party’s “Plan B”

The moment headline writers have been waiting for all summer has finally arrived, with Marc Garneau set to formally launch his Liberal leadership candidacy this week. Despite having a lengthy string of post-nominal letters after his name, and the most impressive CV of any Member of Parliament, Garneau enters this leadership race as a heavy underdog. Ironically, the astronaut simply lacks the star power to compete with Justin Trudeau.

Despite being a genuine Canadian hero and an experienced parliamentarian, Garneau has zero chance of winning this race. However, should Trudeau lose the race, Garneau (and Martha Hall Findlay) now offer Liberals proven candidates to fall back on. After seeing the Justin Trudeau juggernaut hit its first road bump last week, the importance of that role should now be obvious to everyone. Politics is an unpredictable game, and it doesn’t take a long time for rising stars to get tossed out with yesterday’s news.

Leadership campaigns are about putting leaders to the test, but that principle only works if there’s some accountability for a failing grade. If Trudeau doesn’t have the right stuff, Liberals can’t afford to be in a position where a fatally wounded candidate becomes leader by default.

The role of “safety school” may sound demeaning for someone as accomplished as Garneau, but it’s an important role to play.

Time To Return Those “Dalton4Leader” T-Shirts

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race | 4 Comments

I can’t imagine anyone seriously thought he would run, but Dalton McGuinty has made it official that he will not be entering the Federal Liberal Leadership Race.

While the race will not officially kick off for another 3 weeks, with each passing day it becomes more and more clear that the field will be Justin Trudeau, Marc Garneau (likely), Martha Hall Findlay (maybe), and whoever among the mish-mash of no-names can come up with the $75,000 entry fee.

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.

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.

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