Martha Hall Findlay

Liberal Heartland Calgary

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

Like most Liberal campaigns launched in Calgary, Martha Hall Findlay’s leadership bid is a longshot.

Wednesday was not a typical day for Calgary Grits.

While leadership candidates must all fly into town, knowing the party’s weighted-by-riding leadership system makes a vote there far more valuable than a vote in Toronto, I have never seen a serious candidate launch their leadership campaign from the heart of Conservative country. But there was Martha Hall Findlay at the Stampede grounds, declaring her intentions to run for Liberal leader.

It’s tempting to write off the Calgary launch as a meaningless prop, but politics is all about symbolism and Hall Findlay may very well be the closest thing to a “Calgary candidate” to ever run for Liberal leader. She’s an executive fellow at the University of Calgary, once lived in the city for a few years, has family in the area, and employs a Calgary-centric campaign team. Yes, she might very well get steamrolled by Justin Trudeau, but what says you’re the Liberal Party’s “Calgary candidate” more than crushing defeat? Or having your hopes dashed by a Trudeau, for that matter?

Even more surprising on Wednesday, was a poll showing Liberals on the cusp of history in the Calgary Centre by-election:

Joan Crockatt (CPC) 32%
Harvey Locke (Lib) 30%
Chris Turner (Green) 23%
Dan Meades (NDP) 12%

Now before we all get visions of Calgary’s first Liberal seat since Trudeaumania (the first Trudeaumania, that is), it’s worth considering Forum’s shaky reputation and the small sample size (n = 376). I don’t think anyone believes this poll is accurate, but the question is how inaccurate it actually is.

After all, parts of this riding are red provincially (or green now, thanks to the ALP’s rebranding), and Naheed Nenshi won over 50% of the votes in the riding during the last municipal election. It’s a downtown riding, and although they’d never admit it, downtown Calgarians have a lot more in common with downtown Torontonians than with Nanton ranchers.

So even though the Tories got 57% the last election, by-elections are strange animals and Crockatt is a divisive figure – I would not be surprised to see her at 40-45% on by-election night. And that puts us squarely in Linda Duncan territory, where a coalition of progressives could actually win.

Of course, Alberta progressives have a habit of tripping over their feet anytime they get remotely close to power. So we’ve got the Greens attacking the Liberal candidate for “just visiting”, and the Liberal candidate calling the Green candidate “a twerp”. While there are coalitions calling for strategic voting, this poll paints a picture of the Greens pulling away enough vote to let Crockatt hold on – even though the Liberal candidate is an environmentalist who founded the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

So, in all likelihood, it will still be a few years before the Liberals actually win a seat in Calgary. Or until we get a real Calgary leadership candidate. But Calgary Liberals were closer to both those accomplishments Wednesday than they’ve been in a long time. It was a good day to be a Calgary Grit.

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.

The Table Stakes

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

Forget Mark Carney. We need “electable” candidates like Jim Karygiannis in this race!

Now that we know who can run for Liberal leader (namely, anyone with $75,000 and 300 signatures), the question becomes who should run:

“We have to be careful not to think that somebody who wants to raise his or her profile or somebody who wants to pursue a particular single issue should see this as an attainable platform to do that,” New Brunswick MP and prospective leadership candidate Dominic Leblanc told Postmedia News earlier this month.

“What I think Liberals want are a number of good candidates with broad skill sets and different experiences so that the party has a choice between people they can see one day as occupying the Prime Minister’s Office, not somebody who has other ambitions.”

“The ability to win one’s own seat is to extent a judgment of one’s own electability,” he said.

“So party members will have to ask themselves a whole bunch of questions around what are the skills and the attributes they want for somebody who will be leader, and surely electability will be one of the main factors, I would hope.”

I don’t know why anyone would want to limit the pool of candidates to elected MPs at a time when that’s a pretty shallow pool. Brian Mulroney never held elected office before becoming PC leader, and it’s hard to argue Mark Carney wouldn’t be a formidable candidate if he decided to test the waters.

While we can all agree electing an electable leader might be a nice change, winning a seat isn’t the best litmus test to judge electability. Unless, of course, you believe Lise St-Denis is more electable than Ken Dryden.

If we take Leblanc’s argument to its logical conclusion, we could just rank Liberal candidates by their share of the popular vote – in which case, the media should be paying way more attention to Scott Simms (58% of the vote) than Justin Trudeau (38% of the vote). It also stands to reason that Martha Hall Findlay (40% of the vote) is more “electable” than, say, Dominic Leblanc (39% of the vote). A lot of good Liberals lost their seats last election through no fault of their own, and we’d be foolish to turn our backs on them because they didn’t have the good fortune to be running in downtown Toronto.

Still, we can probably all agree that some of the names being floated at the moment are not credible candidates, by any definition of the word. So what should be done with the half dozen fringe candidates who have no realistic shot at winning?

I disagree that leadership races are just about winning. After all, when I signed up for Dominic Leblanc’s leadership team in 2008, I didn’t hold any delusions about him winning – but I truly felt he would make the best leader and that he brought a different perspective to the table as a young Acadian MP from a largely rural riding. Likewise, I feel the current race needs a candidate from Western Canada, and if none of our four MPs west of Guelph want to run, I’m all for having someone else carry that banner.

What prospective candidates need to ask themselves is why they’re running and what they bring to the race. If this is nothing more than fantasy baseball camp – paying $75,000 for the opportunity to see their name in the newspaper and debate Justin Trudeau – then they don’t have any business being in this contest. If it’s only about raising their profile, I’d suggest they’re better served avoiding the risk of becoming a punch line for the Rick Mercer Report and instead working towards a riding nomination in 2015.

But if someone has a unique message, and they’re able to passionately and eloquently advocate it, I think there’s a place for them on that stage. When I say “unique message”, I don’t mean the usual platitudes (“I’m fiscally conservative and socially progressive“) – the Liberal Party needs bold ideas, and a leadership race is a great time to discuss them. If this contest turns out to be nothing more than a training ground for Justin Trudeau, we’ll all benefit by forcing him into a substantive dialogue about the issues of the day.

I do recognize the risk of no-name candidates sucking up the oxygen, but there are tangible benefits to a larger field beyond the usual feel good platitudes about democracy. Specifically, candidates with different backgrounds advocating for overlooked issues will appeal to Canadians who wouldn’t otherwise care one bit about who leads the third place party in Ottawa. Martin Singh and Niki Ashton were never going to win the NDP leadership race, but they still signed up thousands of Canadians, many of whom will stay involved with the NDP.

Not every long-shot candidate is going to engage otherwise overlooked voters, and they won’t all bring something substantive to the table. But those who do should not only be allowed to run – they should be encouraged to.

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.

Issue Management

Posted on by CalgaryGrit in --- 2013 LPC Leadership Race, Federal Politics, Policy | 16 Comments

I spy with my little eye, someone running for leadership

In her Star column today, Chantal Hebert supposes that the Quebec Nation resolution might resurface as a divisive issue during the Liberal Leadership race, as it did in 2006. While I don’t think there’s any appetite to revisit that specific debate, with a Quebec election on the horizon and a guy by the name of Trudeau considering a run for LPC leadership, it seems almost certain that Quebec’s role within Canada will emerge as a question at some point.

And that’s not a bad thing. The Liberal Party needs to decide what it stands for, and the “Quebec question” is a fundamental issue that every party needs clarity on. I personally feel a strong federalist position is the LPC’s best opportunity to differ itself from the NDP and Tories, but others will argue a softer stance might put the NDP’s Quebec seats in play. Either way, the debate, however emotional it may get, is worth having.

Less fundamental and less emotional is the topic of supply management, which has gained steam as an issue this week due to trade talks…WAIT! DON’T GO! I know it’s a dry issue, but bear with me.

I won’t go into the policy implications of abolishing supply management – for those, read this article by Mike Moffatt. I won’t even get into why this could be a winning issue for the Liberals – for that, read Rob Silver’s post on why voters might like the idea of cheaper milk and cheese.

What I will talk about is this policy in the conext of the Liberal leadership race. Through her op-ed and media blitz on the subject, Martha Hall Findlay has effectively launched the first policy debate of the contest:

Hall Findlay calls for end to supply management system

OTTAWA — A former Liberal MP delivered the latest broadside against a system designed to guarantee prices for farmers in certain sectors Thursday, stating membership in a potentially lucrative free trade deal is at stake.

Martha Hall Findlay released a paper in Ottawa calling for an end to the system, known as supply management, as Canadian officials planned negotiations to become part of the major international agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Some of the other eight nations who are part of the deal are calling on Canada to get rid of the system, which guarantees certain farmers prices for their goods and caps the amount they can produce, as a prerequisite for joining.

The trade talks make getting rid of the system more important than ever, said Hall Findlay during her press conference at the Château Laurier, since the deal would provide new markets for farming sectors such as beef or pork who aren’t part of the system.

Why I like this from a leadership perspective is that it lets Martha get ahead of the pack and define herself as a substantive policy-first candidate. Sure, she’s going against the Liberal Party’s official position but she’s not in caucus anymore, so she has a bit more leeway to be “mavericky”. What’s more, considering the Liberal Party just finished a convention championing “evidence based policy”, it would be very hard for other candidates to attack Hall Findlay’s proposal as being “un-Liberal”.

The media spin on this has been nothing but positive, with articles heralding Hall Findlay as a gutsy risk taker. Liberals are looking for a leader who will put forward bold policies, and abolishing supply management is a bold policy that avoids the pratfalls that typically befall bold policies, namely being considered “extreme” (i.e. pot legalization) or “political suicide” (i.e. carbon taxes).

Obviously enough, no one is going to vote for the next Liberal leader because of their position on supply management. But policy can serve as a foil for leadership. In the same way having a red book was more important for Jean Chretien than what was in it, putting forward “courageous” policies is a way for Hall Findlay to define herself as a “courageous” politician.

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.

The Race for Third

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

Back in February I asked readers of this blog who they thought would run for Liberal leader, and who they’d consider voting for. Admittedly, this is as far from a scientific poll as you’ll ever get, and I won’t pretend that the 500+ voters in this straw poll are all Liberals. But we’re not going to see anything resembling a credible Liberal leadership poll for close to a year, so let’s have a little fun with what we’ve got.

Before that, one other thing. It looks like a group of Borys Wrzesnewskyj supporters swarmed the poll late, so I’ve excluded Borys from my recap below. Mind you, the fact that he appears to be the only candidate with supporters dedicated enough to freep a web poll at this stage should likely tell you there are people out there who would like him to run. Which is more than can be said for a lot of the names I floated.

Likely to Run?
Bob Rae 52%
Dominic LeBlanc 42%
Marc Garneau 38%
David McGuinty 34%
Gerard Kennedy 24%
Martha Hall Findlay 24%
Martin Cauchon 21%
Denis Coderre 21%
Scott Brison 18%
Mark Holland 14%

Who Would Consider Supporting?
Bob Rae 31%
Dominic LeBlanc 26%
Justin Trudeau 19%
Gerard Kennedy 19%
Scott Brison 19%
Mark Carney 17%
Marc Garneau 17%
Martha Hall Findlay 16%
Dalton McGuinty 16%
Naheed Nenshi 15%

Rae is seen as the most likely to run and has the largest support base, which tells you all the talk about him being the frontrunner isn’t misplaced. My man from 2008, Dominic LeBlanc, is the only candidate within striking distance of Rae on the support poll, though 11 other names earned between 11% and 19% so there are plenty of viable candidates out there.

I’ve plotted the 16 candidates who scored at least 10% on either poll below. You can see that Trudeau, Carney, Dalton, Nenshi, Goodale, and Lang all have more people who like them than than expect them to run, leaving them as the most probable candidates for a genuine “Draft” movement.

The reverse is true for the other McGuinty, Cauchon, Garneau, and Coderre but, in fairness, I suspect that Quebecers are seriously under represented on this poll.

None of this means a heck of a lot when we don’t even have the rules yet. But it shows there’s nothing even remotely resembling a consensus on who will be running, never mind who will win.

Tomorrow, I’ll speculate a bit about who might be running, so if you’re hearing any rumours, by all means float names my way.

A moment of silence for our fallen comrades

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

The hardest part of last night for me was watching so many quality MPs go down in defeat. All too often, the individual casualties of a blood bath like this are overlooked, and aren’t given a proper farewell. So let me take a minute to thank a few of my favourites for making a difference.

Gone is Gerard Kennedy, who I had the honour of supporting for leader five years ago. One of the reasons I backed Gerard was because he was one of the few people back then who recognized the need to renew and rebuild the Liberal Party. We all recognize that now, and I can only hope Gerard will be a part of that rebuilding, even if it’s not as an MP.

Gone is Ken Dryden, arguably the heart of the Liberal Party. Dryden is one of the most thoughtful politicians you’ll ever meet and he believed in politics for a purpose, not just politics for the sake of politics. Dryden’s vision of Canada will be missed at a time when the Liberal Party tries to come to grips with what it truly believes in.

Gone is Siobhan Coady, a rookie MP who appeared to have a bright future ahead of her. She is exactly the kind of accomplished woman we need more of in politics, and she was one of the few MPs who could ask a tough question with emotion, while still avoiding hyperbole.

Gone is Glen Pearson, one of the few MPs able to rise above the hyper partisanship that infects most who go to Ottawa. Pearson talks in sentences, not sound bytes. He was one of the few who genuinely wanted to make Parliament work, unlike the many who only talk about making Parliament work.

Gone is Ujjal Dosanjh, a quality MP. Gone is Mark Holland, a fierce fighter. Gone is Navdeep Bains, a great MP and a great person. Gone is Martha Hall Findlay, the spunky underdog of the 2006 leadership race.

There are others who I’ve forgotten or just didn’t know as well, but who are equally deserving of praise. I thank them all for their service to the Liberal Party and to their country.

Then there are those who never got a chance to go to Ottawa. Strong candidates, like Christine Innes, who I spent much of this election trying to keep up with as she sprinted door to door to meet voters. And let’s not forget all those who put their names forward to run, knowing it would take a miracle for them to win. Having volunteered on a lot of campaigns like that over the years, I fully appreciate the kind of commitment and idealism that takes.

Finally, there is the one MP who lost a lot more than his seat last night. Long time readers will know I’ve always had doubts about Michael Ignatieff’s ability to lead the Liberal Party, and I took issue with the way he commandeered the leadership of the party.

Still, I’ve warmed to the man greatly over the past year, and I always did like the concept of Michael Ignatieff. If I was writing a Canadian political drama a la West Wing, I’d probably create a protagonist a lot like Michael. He is, after all, exactly what voters say they’re looking for in a leader. He’s intelligent. He has seen the world. He’s not a career politician. It’s hard not to fall in love with the concept of Michael Ignatieff.

Yesterday, we found out just how easy it is to not fall in love with the reality of Michael Ignatieff. In the real world, politics is a job like any other, and we shouldn’t be surprised when the guys who have been doing it their whole lives prove to be better at it than the guy who picked it up in his late 50s. Michael Ignatieff simply was not able to connect with voters the same way Jack Layton could connect with voters.

I’ll write up a proper post-mortem on what went wrong for Michael Ignatieff the party leader in the coming days but for now, a moment of silence for Michael Ignatieff the MP, who didn’t deserve to lose his seat. We need accomplished individuals like him in politics, regardless of the party they run for.

A lot of good people lost their jobs last night, Michael Ignatieff among them.

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