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.