By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – He grew up just to one side of the national viewfinder, teasing…
OTTAWA – He grew up just to one side of the national viewfinder, teasing us with the echo of his father’s greatness while insisting to anyone who would listen that he could never meet his father’s sky-high standard.
Justin Trudeau acknowledged he has lived his life under the burden of high expectations. He also concedes that he might not be the shoo-in for the leadership were his name different.
It is what it is, he said during an interview with The Canadian Press.
“When I showed up my first day of school at College Jean-de-Brebeuf people had huge expectations,” he said of the elite Montreal school that his father attended. “Whether it was me showing up at McGill, starting a career as a teacher, or walking into the board room at Katimavik, every single step in my life I’ve had to deal with expectations.”
“It’s easier to disappoint someone with high hopes. I’m very open about the fact that I’m working very, very hard to fulfil their hopes for me, but I make no promises about standing on a pedestal and being able to live up to all the unreasonable expectations people may put on me.”
Justin Pierre James Trudeau taking the helm Sunday of the Liberal Party leadership would be, for some, the first step in fulfilling a political destiny that seemed written in the stars when he became the first son of one of Canada’s longest serving prime ministers on Christmas Day 1971.
But while the name is the same, almost nothing about the situation the 41-year-old former teacher inherits bears any resemblance to what his father confronted 46 years ago.
The Liberals were Canada’s natural governing party and the elder Trudeau, while a relative novice in Ottawa, had come through the mettle-testing political battles of Quebec independence debates. Pierre Trudeau was regarded as an intellectual giant and had in short order affixed his name to ground-breaking legislation as justice minister in the Lester Pearson government.
The younger Trudeau’s accomplishments to date are more modest. Twice elected MP in the Quebec riding of Papineau, he has become among the party’s most sought after speakers and dependable fund-raisers. He also beat a younger and seemingly stronger Senator Patrick Brazeau in a celebrated boxing match. And of course, there’s the head-turning celebrity that comes from good looks and a grand name.
His official bio makes for thin reading. Bachelor of Arts from McGill and Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. Social studies and French teacher at West Point Grey Academy and Sir Winston Churchill Secondary in Vancouver.
He chaired the Katimavik youth program from 2002-2006, inaugurated along with his brother Alexandre the Trudeau Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Toronto in 2004, and he hosted the Giller Prize for literature in 2006.
After beginning studies for a Masters of Arts degree in environmental geography he abandoned student life to enter politics in 2008.
Asked about his personal tastes, he gives a mix of the popular, the practical and the surprising.
His favourite films are Star Wars and the Shawshank Redemption. He is currently reading Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats about the impossibly rich and powerful one per cent, Lucien Bouchard’s Lettres à un jeune politicien, and the Lee Child thriller Die Trying. For exercise, it’s yoga and boxing, which he says is perfect training for politics.
Trudeau cuts an impressive figure in campaign photos. He exudes youth and vigour. Tall and handsome, his jackets hang off his shoulders as if from a rack. English and French flow assuredly off the tongue without a hint of hesitation or accent. Married to the equally photogenic Sophie Gregoire, the couple have two adorable young children.
And despite any burden that came with his last name, there’s still magic in that handle. Canadians may not know much about him, but they recognize the name and what they think they know about him they like.
The name recognition is important, says Darrell Bricker of Ipsos Global Public Affairs, but there’s more to Trudeau than the family mystique.
“He’s like a human Rorschach test, everybody sees what they want to see,” says the pollster. “He is a visual manifestation of change and if you are a progressive voter, you want to see change.”
That makes him a threat to the old guard, Stephen Harper and the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair, who no matter their credentials hardly look like agents for change, Bricker adds.
On the eve of his coronation by a party that arguably had more accomplished names to choose from, the Nanos Research firm released a public opinion poll that showed the Liberals four points clear of the governing Conservatives. And on leadership questions, Trudeau held his own against Harper in all categories except for the obvious — experience — besting him on the question of who was the most inspirational.
Those are the numbers that put stars in Liberal eyes and get them thinking that victory in 2015 is not such a pipe dream after all.
But if that dream is built on the notion that the son is the political reincarnation of his father, Justin Trudeau is not alone in trying to wake people up to reality.
Stalwart Liberal Marc Lalonde, who came to Ottawa with the elder Trudeau and served in his cabinet through most his administration, also believes Canadians will come to realize the son is so different from his father.
“In terms of communications, he is very different,” he says. “His father had a fantastic ability and charisma with a crowd, but on a one-to-one basis he was very reserved and even distant. While Justin is just the reverse — he connects with people, he loves listening and talking to people individually, but he’s not able to grip a crowd like his father did.”
Lalonde rejects the criticism that Trudeau is too green for the job and that he is riding on his father’s coattails.
He points out that the Liberal Party did not exactly make it easy for Trudeau when he signalled his interest in politics. They could have chosen a safe seat for him, instead he was forced to run in Papineau which had been held by the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
“I told him it was the best thing for him because … he would not owe anything to anybody if he won,” Lalonde said over the telephone from Montreal. “He had three strong Liberal contenders for the riding, he worked very hard, he did the grass roots work and it worked.”
Trudeau talks about the project before him in similar terms. As he did in Papineau, he has to rebuild from the ground up and defeat an ensconced party.
It’s something his father never had to do, the MP says.
“The one thing he never had to do is worry too much about the state of Liberal Party of Canada, it was a big red machine he took for granted,” he said during the interview. His father was never much interested in the machinery of the party.
“I draw a lot more from grandfather Jimmy Sinclair, who was a good party man and who understood the need for an organization to connect and inspire and involve Canadians in reaching out and developing the kind of capacity to earn government and govern. That’s my challenge right now.”
Lalonde said those who fret about Trudeau’s policy-light campaign should be patient. His advice was not to define himself so early. There are 30 months to go before the next election, plenty of time to develop a party platform.
But he says Trudeau is at the very centre of the Canadian political spectrum, a natural consensus builder who is the furthest thing from an ideologue.
“He’s a very committed individual and certainly he’s learned the ropes of politics,” he says. “I think he’s reached a stage in his life where he has everything to succeed in politics and be a good prime minister, but Canadians will have to decide that.”
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 6:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has been elected to lead the federal Liberal party in…
OTTAWA – Justin Trudeau has been elected to lead the federal Liberal party in a resounding first-ballot win.
Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the Liberals’ undisputed star, swept 80 per cent of the vote in a final field of six candidates.
Despite the foregone conclusion of Trudeau’s coronation, a downtown Ottawa hotel was packed with hundreds of Liberal supporters who cheered former prime minister Jean Chretien’s speech about the “next generation of Liberal party leadership” before the tally was made public.
“This is the last stop of this campaign but it is the very first stop of the next one,” Trudeau told the adoring crowd when the resuts were finally announced about 40 minutes later than scheduled.
The leadership buzz around Trudeau, 41, has lifted Liberals off the mat after the third-place party suffered its worst electoral defeat ever in 2011.
Polls suggest the telegenic and personable Trudeau appears to be confounding — at least for now — predictions of a polarized, two-way election fight in 2015 between Tom Mulcair’s NDP and Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.
“We are fed up with leaders who pit Canadians against Canadians. West against East, rich against poor, Quebec against the rest of the country, urban against rural,” Trudeau said in his acceptance speech.
“Canadians are looking to us, my friends. They are giving us a chance, hopeful that the party of Wilfrid Laurier can rediscover its sunny ways.”
Liberal MP Joyce Murray, whose leadership platform included co-operating with New Democrats and Greens to unseat Harper in the next election, finished a very distant second behind Trudeau with 10 per cent of the vote.
The Conservative party immediately put out a release congratulating Trudeau on his leadership win and then slamming his inexperience, a theme the ruling party appears likely to plumb repeatedly.
“Justin Trudeau may have a famous last name, but in a time of global economic uncertainty, he doesn’t have the judgment or experience to be prime minister,” Conservative spokesman Fred DeLorey said.
Just the prospect of the fluidly bilingual Montreal MP’s victory had already boosted the Liberals back into contention in public opinion surveys. They are now running even with or ahead of the ruling Conservatives. The NDP has been relegated to its traditional third place slot after vaulting into official Opposition status in 2011 for the first time in its history.
Chretien told a Liberal crowd hungry for good news that “today marks the beginning of the end of this Conservative government,” while party president Mike Crawley made a point of noting that more people voted in this leadership contest than ever before in Canada.
Whether Trudeau can maintain the momentum until the next election in 2015 remains to be seen. But he has so far defied his detractors who were certain six months ago, when he launched his leadership bid, that his popularity would prove to be fleeting.
Money magnet Trudeau’s final financial report is yet to be posted but he has previously reported raking in almost $1.1 million from some 8,500 donors to his leadership campaign.
The contest was an experiment for Liberals, who decided to allow a new class of supporters — not just dues-paying, card-carrying members — to vote for the next leader.
Almost 300,000 supporters signed up to participate in the contest. But just over 40 per cent of them actually registered to vote.
The results were weighted to give each of the country’s 308 ridings equal clout. Each riding was allotted 100 points, assigned proportionally to each candidate’s share of the vote in that riding.
A total of 30,800 points were up for grabs and Trudeau won on the first ballot with 24,668 points.
The Liberal party believes it has gained valuable contact information from the supporter sign-ups, which it hopes will help build the kind of modern data base required for political fundraising and voter identification in election campaigns.
By The Canadian Press - Sunday, April 14, 2013 at 8:23 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Canada’s political landscape is poised for a potentially seismic shift today as…
OTTAWA – Canada’s political landscape is poised for a potentially seismic shift today as federal Liberals anoint a new leader they hope will re-establish their reputation as the country’s natural governing party.
The outcome is pretty much a foregone conclusion: Justin Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the party’s undisputed rock star, is widely expected to win handily.
His ascension to the Liberal helm will, at least in the short term, put paid to the notion that the next election will be a polarized two-way fight between the Conservatives and New Democrats, with the Grits destined for oblivion.
By John Geddes - Friday, April 12, 2013 at 10:43 AM - 0 Comments
The new leader of the Liberals revealed more during the race than anyone expected
It’s hard not to think of what the Liberal leadership race might have been. If Bob Rae had sought the job, Justin Trudeau’s skills as a debater and orator would have been tested against those of a past master. If Mark Carney had heeded the blandishments of Liberals who asked him to leave central banking and run, Trudeau’s status as the campaign’s unrivaled media star would have been seriously challenged.
But even without such top-tier rivals to press him, Trudeau revealed more during the race than might have been expected from a front-runner’s campaign. It’s not that he risked mapping out anything like a full platform. In an early strategy session, a member of his core team, veteran Liberal policy adviser Mike McNair, set the tone by digging up this bit of advice from the memoirs of Brian Mulroney: “You cannot defend an entire detailed program if you want to be a serious contender for a party’s leadership. If you try, you won’t win.”
And Trudeau certainly followed the former prime minister’s advice that a leadership aspirant should offer only a “general approach,” particularly on unavoidable topics like the economy and national unity. But if he wouldn’t be pinned down on exactly what he wants to do, Trudeau left little doubt about who he is trying to reach. His target groups include middle-class voters drawn in recent elections to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s economic message; new Canadians susceptible to Immigration Minister Jason Kenney’s ethnic outreach efforts; younger voters who might lean NDP or Green, or not cast ballots at all; and Quebecers who abandoned the Liberals in droves over the past four elections.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 9:58 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – In an era in which parties stockpile dirt on one another in…
OTTAWA – In an era in which parties stockpile dirt on one another in the political equivalent of mutually assured destruction, Justin Trudeau admits he’s taking a gamble by offering to unilaterally disarm.
But the Liberal leadership front-runner is betting Canadians would rather have a leader who sticks resolutely to the high road than another purveyor of negative attacks ads and the other dark arts of modern politics — like exploiting wedge issues and regional divisions.
“You’re absolutely right, it’s a bit of a gamble I’m taking,” Trudeau said during a wide-ranging interview with The Canadian Press.
The former school teacher said the choice before him reminds him of what he used to tell students about the Cold War.
“You point a gun at someone’s head and they point a gun back at you, and you’ve got a room full of people watching, you’ve only got two ways out of it. Either one of you pulls the trigger … or else one of you chooses to put the gun down and say, ‘Well, if you’re going to shoot me, you’re going to shoot me unarmed in front of all these people.’
“And I like to believe that Canadians will respond to the latter.”
The Montreal MP, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, is expected to handily secure the leadership Sunday. He fully expects he’ll quickly face a barrage of Conservative attack ads, similar to the ones that so effectively trashed the party’s past two leaders, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff.
“The Conservatives are going to attack because that’s what they do. This is the one way they know how to do politics and they’re better at it than anyone else,” Trudeau said.
While he’s vowing to remain resolutely positive, Trudeau stressed he’s no naive Boy Scout; he doesn’t intend to simply let attacks go unanswered.
“We’re working on trying to figure out how to respond in way that’s strong enough for Canadians to see that I won’t be pushed around but not based around attacks and negativity,” he said.
“I’m not going to sit back but I’m also not going to be dragged down to the same level as they are because across the country I have seen Canadians sick and tired of the negativity and the fighting.”
But it’s not just attack ads Trudeau is promising to eschew. He’s rejecting the entire thesis that successful political marketing means identifying potential supporters and then targeting those sympathetic segments of the population with messages tailored specifically to their concerns.
The Conservatives have used that approach successfully in Canada, as have Democrats in the United States to elect President Barack Obama.
Trudeau acknowledged that “micro-targeting” of voters is “an extremely effective way of doing politics.”
But he contended it’s a negative approach in a country as diverse as Canada. And, as practiced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, he maintained it has exacerbated regional, linguistic, cultural and religious tensions and ultimately made Canada harder to govern.
“You can get elected through the politics of negativity and division. You just can’t govern worth a damn because you’ve gone and turned people away from the kind of active, engaged citizenship that is the source of any solution, any meaningful incremental change … And I refuse to win in such a way that would hamper my ability to govern responsibly for the entire country.”
Trudeau believes it’s still possible to make a mass, pan-Canadian sales pitch to a broad range of voters right across the country, appealing to their shared values and common goals.
Taking such a pan-Canadian approach is “a gamble that says, no, I’m not going to engage in the kind of divisive, negative attacks that Mr. Harper is capable of. No, I’m not going to play up resentment against the successful like Mr. Mulcair is doing,” Trudeau said.
It’s also, he added, the only approach that justifies asking his young family to make the sacrifices he knows are in store should he become leader.
“It only is worth it if I’m actually serious about doing right, not just doing well.”
Should he win the leadership, as expected, Trudeau said his biggest immediate challenge will be overcoming Canadians’ cynicism about politicians.
“Before we can present a robust vision for the future and a slate of ideas on how to get there, we actually have to remind Canadians that politics is supposed to be in the vision-building, it’s supposed to be in the big ideas, in strong challenges and problem-solving mode.”
Trudeau also acknowledged that rebuilding the party, particularly in his home province of Quebec where the party needs to build “from scratch” in many ridings, will be another big challenge.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 12:41 PM - 0 Comments
TORONTO – Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau says now is not the time to…
TORONTO – Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau says now is not the time to lay out detailed policy.
Trudeau says he’ll do that closer to the 2015 federal election.
Pressed today on when he would talk about specific ideas for the economy, Trudeau said he’s been clear that the focus needs to be on helping the middle class.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 10:04 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The disappointing number of supporters who’ve registered to vote in the Liberal…
OTTAWA – The disappointing number of supporters who’ve registered to vote in the Liberal leadership contest has exploded into a nasty dispute between front-runner Justin Trudeau and rival Joyce Murray.
Murray’s camp is crying foul over the Trudeau team’s attempt to extend Thursday’s deadline for voter registration by one week.
Jamie Carroll, Murray’s campaign chairman, says the Trudeau camp’s justification for the extension “doesn’t smell right.”
The Trudeau team maintains an extension is warranted because the party is having trouble getting registration notices and forms to more than 100,000 people who signed up as Liberal supporters without providing email addresses.
All members and supporters must register by Thursday in order to be entitled to vote. As of Tuesday, just over 90,000 had registered — less than a third of the 294,000 who signed up to participate in the leadership contest.
Carroll said there are only two explanations for why the party has no email addresses for so many supporters: organizers for one or more camps were incompetent and didn’t ask for email addresses or they deliberately withheld email co-ordinates so that the party would be unable to share them with rival camps.
“To our mind, there’s only two possible conclusions: incompetence or malice,” Carroll said in an interview, adding that the latter seems most likely
In neither case, Carroll said, should the party ride to the rescue by extending the deadline for registration.
“There’s an appeal process in place for legitimate technical or other concerns. But if this is because a camp either neglected to collect email addresses or chose not to share them with the party, I have no sympathy.”
While he didn’t directly accuse the Trudeau camp, Carroll said most of the supporters without email addresses were signed up by the front-runner’s team, which boasts that it recruited about 165,000 supporters.
Less than 10 per cent of the supporters signed up by the Murray camp did not provide email addresses, Carroll said, adding he’s unaware of any other camp — except Trudeau’s — that had a significant problem providing that information.
Trudeau is widely thought to have an insurmountable lead but the failure of as much as 60 per cent of his supporters to register “could be” enough to change the outcome of the contest, Carroll added.
Trudeau representative Cyrus Reporter said about 30,000 of the supporters without email addresses signed up through other camps or directly through the party’s website. More than 60,000 were signed up by the Trudeau camp.
Reporter insisted Trudeau had nothing to gain by deliberately withholding email addresses, since — as has become abundantly clear — it’s much harder to register those who can’t be reached by the party electronically.
“We’re exclusively focused on ensuring that every supporter who was signed up appropriately and on time has the ability to register on time,” he said in an interview.
“That is our one and exclusive concern is making sure those people are not disenfranchised by a process or a timeline that doesn’t take into account the realities of what’s happening right now.”
The reality, Reporter added, is that the party mailed registration packages to many of those without email addresses only late last week. Consequently, many will receive their packages just before — or just after — Thursday’s deadline.
Trudeau’s request for an extension was discussed Tuesday by party brass and during a candidates’ liaison meeting. Other than Murray’s camp, the other six camps supported or at least raised no initial objections to an extension.
However, Martin Cauchon’s camp changed its mind late Tuesday, informing the party that it too now objects to an extension.
The party is expected to announce a decision by Wednesday.
Carroll acknowledged the party is in a “really, really tough spot.”
“If they accede to the (Trudeau) request, then they’ll be accused of favouritism … and, if they don’t, they’ll be accused of being undemocratic and disenfranchising prospective Liberal voters.”
By The Canadian Press - Monday, March 11, 2013 at 8:57 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Less than a third of the almost 300,000 members and supporters who…
OTTAWA – Less than a third of the almost 300,000 members and supporters who signed up to choose the Liberal party’s next leader have so far registered to vote.
With only three days left to register, just 89,000 had registered by Monday evening.
Members and supporters must register by Thursday in order to be entitled to vote.
The party boasted last week that 294,000 people had signed up over the course of the leadership contest.
Most signed up free of charge, taking advantage of the party’s new supporter class, which was intended to broaden the Liberal base and engage more than just card-carrying, dues-paying members.
While only a fraction so far have bothered to take the next step, spokeswoman Sarah Bain says the party is pleased with the number who’ve registered.
She said the party has seen “a healthy surge” in registrations as the Thursday deadline looms.
There has been some talk in Liberal circles about extending the deadline but Bain said that would be up to the party’s board and leadership committee. As far as party officials are concerned, Thursday “is a major deadline,” she added.
Regardless of how many actually end up voting, interim Liberal leader Bob Rae last week said the supporter experiment has already been a success. It’s added thousands of new names and contact information to the party’s database, which is used to tap donors, recruit volunteers and target sympathetic voters during elections.
Still, the failure to register by two-thirds of supporters thus far suggests they have little attachment to the party and may not prove to be particularly useful in future.
Justin Trudeau’s team claims to have recruited as many as 165,000 supporters and has deployed a huge volunteer force to ensure they all register. But the registration number thus far suggests even the front-runner is having trouble motivating his supporters to register, much less to actually cast ballots during the week of April 6.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 10:07 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Almost 300,000 members and supporters have signed up to choose the next…
OTTAWA – Almost 300,000 members and supporters have signed up to choose the next leader of the federal Liberal party — and Justin Trudeau’s team claims more than half are backing the front-runner.
The numbers suggest the Montreal MP is well on his way to a decisive first ballot victory on April 14.
At the same time, a new poll suggests stepped-up attacks on Trudeau by some of his rival leadership contenders have done nothing to dim his appeal among Canadians in general.
Some 39 per cent of respondents to The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey said they’d be certain or likely to vote Liberal if Trudeau was at the helm.
That percentage has remained unchanged since the start of the leadership contest last November, suggesting Trudeau is not the flash-in-the-pan celebrity some of his rivals have tried to make him out to be.
The poll suggests Trudeau could siphon off support from all other parties: 39 per cent of New Democrats, 33 per cent of Greens, 22 per cent of Conservatives and 12 per cent of Bloc Quebecois supporters identified in the poll said they’d be certain or likely to vote Liberal if Trudeau was leader.
Under rival Marc Garneau — a former astronaut who has repeatedly cast Trudeau as an untested, inexperienced lightweight offering little but platitudes — 26 per cent said they’d be certain or likely to vote Liberal.
Under former MP Martha Hall Findlay, who apologized after questioning how Trudeau could understand the challenges facing middle-class Canadians given his privileged upbringing, the number shrank to just 15 per cent.
The number of certain or likely Liberal voters shrank even further, to 12 per cent, under the leadership of lower-profile challengers Joyce Murray, Martin Cauchon, Deborah Coyne and Karen McCrimmon and to just nine per cent under David Bertschi.
The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted Feb. 21-24 and is considered accurate within plus or minus 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.
While repeated polls have suggested the party would fare best under Trudeau, a factor that will undoubtedly influence Liberals as they choose their next leader, they are not necessarily predictors of how the leadership contest will shake out.
Only those who signed up as Liberal members or supporters as of last Sunday are eligible to vote.
Party president Mike Crawley disclosed Wednesday that there are now 294,002 eligible voters. Most are believed to have taken advantage of the party’s new supporter class to sign up for free, although the party has provided no breakdown.
Trudeau’s team initially claimed it had signed up 150,000 people but insiders now say the number is between 160,000 and 165,000.
However, only eligible members and supporters who register to vote over the next two weeks will actually be entitled to cast ballots during the week of April 6-14.
The party is using the registration process to weed out those who may have been signed up without their knowledge and to verify identities and addresses of supporters. The addresses matter because the results of the leadership vote will be weighted to give equal clout to each riding.
Others who signed up on a whim may not be sufficiently interested to fill out the registration form, which requires them to affirm support for the Liberal party and its purposes, that they are Canadian citizens, at least 14 years of age and not a member of another federal party.
Inevitably, the number of registered voters will be less — perhaps substantially less — than the almost 300,000 eligible voters the party is now boasting. And even fewer will likely go all the way to casting ballots.
During last year’s NDP leadership contest — which allowed only dues-paying members to vote and did not require a special registration procedure — less than half the roughly 130,000 eligible voters actually cast ballots.
Trudeau said late Wednesday he’s taking nothing for granted, that the task now is to convert all those who signed up into registered voters.
“It still remains to be seen how many of those people will come out and vote and how many of those people will come out for us. And therefore, we’re keeping the extraordinary work that a very committed team right across the country is going to keep up.”
Murray, who received a late burst of momentum from a host of online and grassroots advocacy groups, said she expects a high voter turnout among her supporters because they’re committed to her plan for electoral co-operation and sustainability.
“I’m very happy with where we’re at and I think we have an opportunity to surprise people on April 14,” the Vancouver MP said in an interview.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae said his party intends to “pull out all the stops” to persuade as many eligible voters as possible to register and vote.
But even if a big chunk of eligible voters do not take the next steps, Rae said the experiment with the new supporter class will still be a huge success. It has already provided the party with the names and contact information for thousands of new “sympathizers” who can be tapped for donations, support during elections and policy development.
“The fact that we’ve now got 300,000 people who are in a universe that we can identify and continue to be in touch with those people is very positive in and of itself,” Rae said.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 7:32 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Joyce Murray’s underdog bid to become the federal Liberal leader is getting…
OTTAWA – Joyce Murray’s underdog bid to become the federal Liberal leader is getting a last-minute burst of celebrity-powered momentum from online and grassroots advocacy groups.
The Vancouver MP is getting a boost — both direct and indirect — from a host of advocacy groups that support electoral co-operation and environmental preservation. Together, the groups boast close to 1 million members — a huge pool of potential supporters for Murray to tap into.
Leadnow.ca was one of the first out of the gate and it has now enlisted the support of actress Sarah Polley, anti-globalization activist Naomi Klein and award-winning author and poet Karen Connelly, among others, in its “co-operation for Canada” campaign.
The campaign is aimed at persuading Leadnow.ca’s 225,000 members to sign up as supporters of the Liberal party by Sunday’s deadline, thereby becoming eligible to vote in April for the party’s next leader.
About 5,000 have done so over the past two weeks but spokesman Jamie Biggar predicted the biggest wave of sign-ups will occur over the next few days, fuelled by Sunday’s looming deadline and the group’s star-studded cast of persuaders, who issued statements Thursday endorsing the campaign for co-operation.
The celebrity backing of Leadnow.ca’s campaign follows environmental champion David Suzuki’s outright endorsement of Murray last week.
Leadnow.ca supports co-operation among Liberals, New Democrats and Greens to ensure defeat of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives in the 2015 election and implement reform of the electoral system.
While it has not endorsed Murray directly, she stands to be the biggest beneficiary of the group’s efforts since she’s the only one of eight leadership contenders to advocate electoral co-operation.
Avaaz, an even larger online group that supports electoral co-operation, is similarly joining the fray, sending an email alert to its more than 500,000 Canadian members, urging them to participate in the democratic process of the party of their choice.
“But we also let them know that … there is a leadership race where co-operation is up for grabs and in this case it’s the Liberal party’s leadership race and there’s a candidate who’s clearly out for co-operation,” said Emma Ruby-Sachs, a campaign director with Avaaz.
The majority of Avaaz’s Canadian members are “incredibly enthusiastic” about electoral co-operation so the group hopes its campaign will have the same kind of impact it had on last year’s NDP leadership contest, Ruby-Sachs added.
Biggar estimates the combined efforts of Avaaz and Leadnow.ca resulted in some 10,000 people joining the NDP to back dark horse Nathan Cullen, the only candidate in that contest to support electoral co-operation. Cullen finished a surprisingly strong third.
Other pro-co-operation groups — including Catch 22 and the Liberal chapter of Fair Vote Canada — have directly endorsed Murray.
In addition to Suzuki, the former British Columbia environment minister is also getting a boost from groups who applaud her stance in favour of a price on carbon and against pipelines to bring raw bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to the B.C. coast.
She’s been endorsed by Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, a grassroots group dedicated to mobilizing public pressure on governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Dogwood Initiative, a B.C.-based group devoted to maintaining the ban on oil tankers plying the waters off the province’s northern coast, is not directly endorsing Murray but it is urging its members to sign up as Liberal supporters and pointing out that “the one candidate standing up so far (against tankers) is B.C. MP Joyce Murray.”
“In fact, Murray is taking an even stronger stand by clearly opposing Kinder Morgan’s oil tanker plans for our south coast as well,” the group says in an email blast to its 150,000 members.
“This oil tanker issue is really one of the top issues in British Columbia,” Dogwood communications director Emma Gilchrist said in an interview.
“I think it also taps into quite a politically engaged group of people so you could see the oil tanker issue play out, I think, quite significantly in the Liberal leadership race.”
The Liberal party has made it easier for advocacy groups to influence the outcome of this contest than any previous leadership race. Anyone willing to sign up, for free, as a party supporter is entitled to cast a ballot, not just card-carrying, dues-paying members.
While it’s unlikely the groups’ efforts will derail front-runner Justin Trudeau’s apparent juggernaut, some rival organizers privately worry they could propel Murray into a surprise second or third-place finish, ahead of higher profile contenders Marc Garneau and Martha Hall Findlay.
Murray has displayed an ability to tap into sources of support not traditionally associated with the Liberal party.
Former New Democrat MP Bruce Hyer, who now sits as an independent after splitting with his party over its support of the now-defunct long-gun registry, has endorsed Murray, as has Peter Russell, one of the country’s leading constitutional experts.
Green party Leader Elizabeth May has stopped just short of endorsing Murray, as has Sierra Club Canada president Howie Chong and Gary Corbett, president and CEO of the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada, the union representing 60,000 government scientists and professionals.
Corbett said Murray is “speaking our language” with her pledge to lift the muzzle imposed on scientists by the Harper government.
The celebrities backing Leadnow.ca’s co-operation campaign are predominantly well-known New Democrats, including Michele Landsberg and Avi Lewis, wife and son of former Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis.
“I’m so frightened for Canada under the blandly malevolent Harper Conservatives,” Landsberg said in a statement.
“That’s why I’m breaking with my long fidelity to partisan politics and begging the opposition parties: Just this once, for all our sakes, please co-operate. Turf the Harper Conservatives, bring in fair elections, protect the environment, and then fight it out for parliamentary dominance. But first, save us.”
Polley said she believes “it is urgent for progressive people in this country to join forces and elect a government that will change our electoral system to accurately represent us.”
While the various groups have undoubtedly given Murray’s campaign momentum at a critical moment, it remains to be seen how many of their members actually sign up as Liberal supporters and how many of those then take the next step — registering to vote — that is required before ballots are cast during the week of April 6-14.
In last year’s NDP contest, less than 50 per cent of the party’s 131,000 members voted.
As of early January, the Liberal party boasted 100,000 members and supporters, split roughly 50-50.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 8:48 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Liberal leadership hopeful Martin Cauchon is questioning front-runner Justin Trudeau’s judgment in…
OTTAWA – Liberal leadership hopeful Martin Cauchon is questioning front-runner Justin Trudeau’s judgment in continuing to collect public speaking fees while serving as an MP.
The former cabinet minister raised the issue Tuesday, joining the gang-up on Trudeau by some of his competitors as the race nears its final month.
Montreal MP Marc Garneau has taken repeated direct shots at Trudeau over the past two weeks, accusing him of being an untested, inexperienced rookie who is offering little more than empty platitudes. Garneau has also challenged Trudeau to a one-on-one debate.
Former MP Martha Hall Findlay has also gone after the front-runner, questioning how he can pretend to understand the needs of middle-class Canadians given his privileged upbringing as the eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
She was booed for that jab at the last all-candidates debate and quickly apologized.
Cauchon joined the fray Tuesday, arguing that speaking to charities and other non-profit entities like school boards should be part of an MP’s regular duties.
Hence, he said it was “clearly a mistake” for Trudeau to accept speaking fees from not-for-profit groups, an error in judgment he attributed to the front-runner’s “lack of experience.” And he called on Trudeau to reimburse the money.
“It’s not illegal but, for non-profit organizations, I find it hard to believe he charged (fees),” Cauchon said in an interview.
He noted that Trudeau missed some votes in the House of Commons while he was delivering paid speeches, “so there’s a question of double dipping there” as well.
Cauchon also seized on remarks Trudeau has made regarding Quebec secession and Quebec’s refusal to sign the Constitution — since clarified — to bolster his case that Trudeau is inexperienced.
“Every time he says something, he’s opening the door (to criticism). It’s so easy,” Cauchon said.
Trudeau has disclosed that he’s earned $277,000 in public speaking fees since becoming an MP in 2008.
Trudeau ally Dominic LeBlanc pointed out that all the front-runner’s speaking engagements were cleared by the independent parliamentary ethics watchdog, Mary Dawson. He argued that her judgment should be taken more seriously than “cheap shots” by leadership rivals.
Cauchon has evidently decided the only way to get attention for his low-profile leadership campaign is to join “the band of negative warriors” attacking the front-runner, added LeBlanc, a New Brunswick MP.
“Martin has probably concluded that the only air time that some candidates get is when they decide to go negative on the guy most likely to win,” he said, accusing Cauchon of “artificially inflaming and distorting” Trudeau’s words.
“I’m disappointed. I’ve known Martin for a long time. He’s a friend of mine. He spoke at my wedding.”
The recent barrage of attacks from rivals hasn’t visibly slowed down what appears to be a Trudeau juggernaut. He won an endorsement Tuesday from Scott Brison — the 21st of 35 Liberal MPs to jump on the front-runner’s bandwagon.
Garneau has been endorsed by three MPs. None of the other six contenders has snagged any endorsements from MPs, although Joyce Murray picked up support Tuesday from a veteran Liberal senator, Celine Hervieux-Payette.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 11:28 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The Liberal leadership race has been a generally genteel affair so far,…
OTTAWA – The Liberal leadership race has been a generally genteel affair so far, but Marc Garneau has changed tacks, taking the fight to front-runner Justin Trudeau.
Garneau has accused Trudeau of failing to detail what he stands for and where he would take the party if he wins the top job.
“As Liberals, we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for,” Garneau said in a news release Wednesday.
“That is like asking Canadians to buy a new car without first test-driving it.”
The astronaut-turned-politician says he’s laid out his plans and wants Trudeau to do the same.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 5:30 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Martin Cauchon officially became the ninth — and last — candidate in…
OTTAWA – Martin Cauchon officially became the ninth — and last — candidate in the Liberal leadership race Tuesday, touting his credentials as the only contender with experience running the machinery of federal government.
The former Chretien-era cabinet minister, who filed his nomination papers just hours before Sunday’s midnight deadline, said he took his time deciding whether to take the plunge because he knows that seeking to eventually run the country is a huge commitment, not a “popularity contest.”
“It’s never too late to take the right decision,” the 50-year-old told The Canadian Press.
“One of the advantages I have is experience,” he added, noting that he led the party’s Quebec wing before becoming an MP in 1993 and eventually a cabinet minister and Quebec lieutenant for then-prime minister Jean Chretien.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 3:13 PM - 0 Comments
Progressive Liberals are alarmed as federal leadership contenders tilt right.
OTTAWA – Federal Liberals long ago abandoned the cardinal rule of success handed down by late Grit rainmaker Keith Davey: “Revere the leader.”
As they prepare to choose their fourth leader (sixth, counting interim leaders) in nine years, Liberals seem poised to renounce the third of Davey’s Ten Commandments of Canadian Liberalism: “Stay on the road to reform; keep left of centre.”
With one lonely exception, the top tier of contenders for the Liberal helm has veered sharply to the right, much to the private consternation of some of the stalwarts of the party’s once-influential left wing.
“All I’m hearing is we’re going down the Reagan/Thatcher slipstream,” despairs one prominent veteran Liberal.
“I don’t believe that the way you’re going to offer an alternative (to the Harper Conservatives) is to be a pseudo-Tory.”
Many Liberals and pundits had assumed Justin Trudeau, the prohibitive favourite, would represent the progressive wing of the party — assumptions based not so much on his relatively thin policy pronouncements as on his youth, mop of curly hair, penchant for wearing jeans and the legacy of his late father, former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.
But the Montreal MP has so far gone out of his way to foil expectations.
He’s called the now-defunct, Liberal-created long gun registry a failure and asserted that guns are an important part of Canada’s identity.
He’s come out strongly in favour of the takeover of Nexen Inc. by the Chinese state-owned oil company, even chiding Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not being open enough to investment by state-owned enterprises in the oilsands.
Two of Trudeau’s most serious challengers have similarly positioned themselves as so-called blue or business-friendly Liberals.
Montreal MP Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut, has called for wide open competition in the telecommunications sector. And he’s lamented government interference in free markets when it comes to encouraging innovation.
“Instead of more government handouts, let’s eliminate all capital gains tax on investment in Canadian start-ups,” he told a Toronto business audience in a recent speech larded with conservative catchphrases.
“A government official should not be making the decision where to invest. It’s the experts — you — the innovators themselves that know best.”
Former Toronto MP Martha Hall Findlay touts her experience as a businesswoman and has called for an end to supply management of dairy products. With her campaign based in Calgary, she’s strongly supported Alberta’s oilsands and two proposed pipelines to carry oilsands bitumen to ports on British Columbia’s coast.
Among the top tier contenders, so far only Vancouver MP Joyce Murray has staked out turf on the left. She’s an ardent environmentalist, favours a carbon tax, opposes pipelines through B.C. and supports full legalization of marijuana. She also advocates co-operation with the NDP and Greens in the next election in ridings where a united progressive front could defeat the Conservatives.
Not surprisingly, all four balk at being pegged on the right or left of the political spectrum, a categorization they dismiss as outdated and meaningless to voters.
Hall Findlay, for instance, says her policies are based on evidence, “not on some outdated view of what is ‘right’ or ‘left’ or even some undefined ‘centre.’”
For his part, Garneau places himself dead centre between the Conservatives and the NDP.
“I am a Liberal,” he says.
“Rather than the stark choices we face today — a choice between a party that believes in less government and a party that believes in more government — I believe in innovative, responsive, smart government.”
Nevertheless, the pronounced rightward tilt of the race so far has prompted former veteran minister Lloyd Axworthy, the leading spear carrier for the party’s progressive wing for decades, to line up behind Murray.
Now president of the University of Winnipeg, Axworthy has to be discreet about politics these days. But he allowed in an interview that he is “impressed” with Murray and the values she espouses.
Murray may yet have company on the left. One-time minister Martin Cauchon is seriously pondering a late entry into the race, evidently sensing an opening for another progressive voice.
Cauchon has blasted Trudeau for calling the gun registry a failed policy, saying leadership candidates “should have the backbone to respect and stand for the principles that we have always stood for.”
And in a recent speech, delivered in Berlin but circulated at home, he extolled the “moderate” policies pursued by past Liberal prime ministers, including an emphasis on peacekeeping, Canada’s role as a “soft power,” and his own role in spearheading the move to legalize same-sex marriage.
There has always been creative tension between the left and right flanks of the party, which has been most successful when the two are in balance. As long-shot contender George Takach puts it, a bird “needs both wings to fly.”
Jean Chretien led the party to three consecutive majorities by flapping both wings. He eliminated the deficit and slashed taxes, while legalizing gay marriage, introducing legislation to decriminalize marijuana, signing on to the Kyoto climate change treaty and creating the gun registry.
So why would leadership contenders abandon that winning formula?
Trudeau’s perceived rightward tilt is not ideological, one of his strategists says. Rather, it’s the result of aiming himself squarely at middle-class Canadians, who tend to be conservative on economic matters.
At the same time, defying expectations by disowning the gun registry or his father’s hated National Energy Program reflects Trudeau’s belief that the party can not rebuild by holding fast to sacred cows from decades gone by.
“What we want to do is clear the decks so we can build a new platform from scratch,” the strategist says.
Stephen Carter, Hall Findlay’s campaign manager and the architect of the come-from-behind victories of Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Alberta Premier Alison Redford, argues that the locus of Canadian politics has shifted — not left to right, but east to west as formerly Quebec-centric politicians come to grips with the economic power of the West.
Indeed, right-left labels no longer really apply, Carter maintains. Canadians, he argues, have become very fluid in their political beliefs, with little loyalty to any party. They traverse the political spectrum on an issue-by-issue basis and are not the least bothered if a leader does the same.
What they’re looking for, Carter believes, is an authentic leader who speaks his or her mind.
“The party brand is the leader. That’s it,” he says bluntly.
Still, the dwindling band of Liberal progressives worry about the perceived rightward drift. They fear the party risks losing its few remaining urban outposts in a misguided bid to appeal to disaffected Tory supporters.
“It doesn’t make sense to siphon off the 40 per cent that Stephen Harper has,” says a Murray organizer. “It makes more sense to go for the 60 per cent who don’t vote for Stephen Harper.”
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:40 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal leadership race just got bit less crowded.
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal leadership race just got bit less crowded.
Longshot contender Alex Burton, a Vancouver Crown prosecutor, has dropped out of the contest.
More may follow as the deadline approaches for paying the hefty $75,000 entry fee imposed by the party.
The second $25,000 instalment is due at the end of this week, although candidates can wait until mid-January to pay the entire fee in one lump.
Because the party levies a tithe of 10 per cent on every dollar raised by contenders, each candidate actually has to raise $82,500 to be able to pay the fee.
Burton’s campaign manager, Kevin Chalmers, says Burton could have paid the fee but the problem was raising enough money beyond that to run a competitive campaign.
Burton had been running a shoestring campaign as it was, travelling across the country in a mobile home.
In a written statement, Burton said: “I have said that it is important to run in this race the same way as I would lead my party. That is to say, my leadership campaign would be run with fiscal discipline and a willingness to make tough decisions even when those choices lead me to a conclusion which I find difficult.”
Burton said he’ll focus now on running as a Liberal candidate in the 2015 election.
Chalmers said there were other hurdles to Burton’s leadership candidacy beyond money, including the fact that Burton does not have a seat in Parliament or insider access to party membership lists.
So far, six candidates have officially registered with the party, which includes filing the required nomination papers and plunking down the first $25,000 instalment of the entry fee. They are Montreal MP Justin Trudeau, the prohibitive favourite, fellow Montreal MP Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, former MP Martha Hall Findlay, retired Canadian Forces Lt. Col. Karen McCrimmon and Toronto-based lawyer Deborah Coyne.
Others who’ve launched their campaigns but have yet to register include Toronto lawyer and technology guru George Takach, Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi and David Merner, former president of the party’s British Columbia wing. Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley has declared his intention to run if he can raise sufficient funds.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, December 7, 2012 at 5:00 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leadership race is really heating up. First, David Bertschi tweeted, “I had a nice day in North Bay.” Then Martha Hall Findlay tweeted, “Just had a terrific meeting in Edmonton.” Truly, this contest is turning into a blood sport.
For those who’ve lost track, there are now 3,200 people running to be leader of the Liberal party: Justin Trudeau, Deborah Coyne, the three people sitting with you right now in the dentist’s waiting room, the Professor, Mary Ann—the list keeps growing. The field is so crowded that the party has pretty much no choice but to hold its policy debates on one of those conveyor belts they have in some sushi restaurants. Ms. Findlay, you have 20 seconds to answer this question before you disappear into the kitchen for half an hour.
The significant interest in the job of leader sounds a positive note for the future of the party. In news that doesn’t do that, interim leader Bob Rae sent out an email this week basically begging Liberal supporters to donate $5. That’s right—five whole dollars. Not interested? Bob is willing to sweeten the deal. Hand over the five-spot and in return you’ll get . . . a copy of his holiday card! Just contact the Liberal party and ask to contribute to Canada’s Saddest Fundraising Campaign. Continue…
By Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press - Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 5:15 AM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Call him the e-candidate.
George Takach, a Toronto technology lawyer and self-professed…
OTTAWA – Call him the e-candidate.
George Takach, a Toronto technology lawyer and self-professed computer geek, is joining the federal Liberal leadership race, determined to drag the party — and eventually the country — into the 21st century.
The 55-year-old joins a long list of long-shot contenders who have little chance of overtaking presumed front-runner Justin Trudeau.
But Takach brings something unique to the contest: a heavy emphasis on technology as the key to economic growth.
And he’s putting his years of experience in the tech field to use with some innovative platform proposals and campaign techniques.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM - 0 Comments
The mood in the National Press Theatre here in Ottawa this afternoon was peculiar for Montreal MP Marc Garneau’s news conference on the official launch today of his bid for the Liberal party leadership.
Peculiar in the sense that Parliamentary Press Gallery reporters are usually pretty direct when it comes to prodding visitors to the NPT on any evident weakness in the political or policy messages they happen to bring, but the tone toward Garneau today was, I thought, somewhat deferential.
This must be the result of the awkward imbalance between Garneau’s exalted status as Canada’s first astronaut and his underdog position in the leadership race. This is a guy who, as one reporter mentioned, already has schools named after him, and yet enters this contest far behind Justin Trudeau, who doesn’t.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Former astronaut Marc Garneau announced his candidacy for the federal Liberal leadership…
MONTREAL – Former astronaut Marc Garneau announced his candidacy for the federal Liberal leadership Wednesday, touting himself as a proud patriot who has what it takes to become prime minister.
”Whether it was in the Canadian Navy, as an astronaut or as president of the Canadian Space Agency, I have spent my life serving my country,” Garneau said.
”And I am extremely proud of who I am and my contribution to my the country. I believe in commitment and in excellence in everything I do.”
Garneau joins a crowded field that includes fellow Montreal MP — and leadership favourite —Justin Trudeau.
The 63-year-old Garneau was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and re-elected in 2011.
The Quebec City native became the first Canadian to fly in space, when he served as a payload specialist aboard the Challenger shuttle in October 1984.
He flew on three shuttle missions, logging over 677 hours in space. Garneau then served as president of the space agency from 2001 to 2005 before jumping into politics.
Garneau’s announcement speech was peppered with attacks against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.
”Today, I see a Canada that has given me so many opportunities being whittled away,” he said.
”Today, under Harper, we have an angry, we have a divisive, we have an intolerant Canada. We have an intolerant government.
”Stephen Harper’s government practises the politics of exclusion, the politics of hypocrisy, of deceit. This is a government that rewards the few at the expense of the many.”
Garneau is expected to give front-runner Trudeau one of his biggest tests in the race for the top Liberal job.
Garneau, the Liberal house leader, took on the natural resources critic’s post last week after David McGuinty resigned.
Defeated in his first run for office in 2006, Garneau was elected in the longtime Liberal stronghold of Westmount-Ville-Marie in 2008.
Garneau adds his name to a packed field of contestants, which includes Trudeau, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray, former Toronto MP Martha Hall Findlay, Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi, Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne, retired Canadian Forces Lt.-Col. Karen McCrimmon, Vancouver prosecutor Alex Burton and David Merner, former president of the party’s B.C. wing.
Toronto lawyer George Takach is expected to join the race on Thursday. Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley is still hoping to enter if he can raise the stiff, $75,000 entry fee.
So far, only Trudeau and Coyne have officially registered as candidates, filed the required nomination papers and paid the first of three $25,000 instalments on the entry fee.
A number of other potential heavyweight contenders have passed on the contest, including retiring Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, former deputy prime minister John Manley, New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, Halifax MP Geoff Regan and Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney, who will take over as head of the Bank of England next summer.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 6:05 AM - 0 Comments
MONTREAL – Former astronaut Marc Garneau is expected to launch his bid today to…
MONTREAL – Former astronaut Marc Garneau is expected to launch his bid today to become leader of the federal Liberals.
The Montreal MP has scheduled a news conference this morning in his home riding.
Garneau would join a crowded field that includes fellow Montreal MP — and leadership favourite —Justin Trudeau.
The 63-year-old Garneau was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008 and was re-elected in 2011.
The Quebec City native became the first Canadian in space when he flew aboard the Challenger shuttle in 1984.
Garneau served as president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005 before jumping into politics.
By Scott Feschuk - Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 5:37 AM - 0 Comments
So many people are gunning for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them
Have you heard who’s running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada? Pretty much everybody. So many big names! Justin Trudeau is running. That Martha Something Something person is running. Plus, there are two (2) completely different guys named David and a dude who’s driving across the country in a van—because nothing says political momentum like: van.
In fact, so many people are running for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them. Here’s a quick way to check: have you heard of you? If you or anyone else has heard of you, then you’re probably not running.
Jonathan Mousley is running. I was not previously aware of Mousley but, weirdly, this has not stopped him from existing. On Remembrance Day, as part of his campaign, he tweeted that Canadians should “press [the Harper government] to provide financially strapped veterans with a decent and dignified burial.” A solid policy, sure, but not exactly a mood-brightener for veterans.
By The Canadian Press - Monday, November 12, 2012 at 7:56 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal leadership race is getting crowded at the starting gate…
OTTAWA – The federal Liberal leadership race is getting crowded at the starting gate but a stiff entry fee may yet winnow the field.
The party is to officially fire the starting gun Wednesday.
That same day, former Toronto MP Martha Hall Findlay — who just finished paying off her debt from a 2006 bid for the party’s leadership — is scheduled to formally launch her second attempt at the top job.
She’s chosen to announce her candidacy in Calgary, politically toxic territory for the Liberals for more than four decades, in a bid to demonstrate a commitment to rebuilding the party into a national movement.
And this time she’s recruited the help of Stephen Carter, an old hand at masterminding come-from-behind victories. He managed Naheed Nenshi’s successful mayoral campaign in Calgary and Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s most recent provincial election campaign.
Retired Canadian Forces Lt.-Col. Karen McCrimmon, who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberals in an Ottawa-area riding in 2011, is expected to take the plunge later Wednesday.
Vancouver MP Joyce Murray is expected to follow suit next week, followed closely by Toronto lawyer George Takach.
Montreal MP Marc Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut, is widely expected to join the race shortly as well.
They will join Montreal MP Justin Trudeau, the prohibitive favourite who jumped into the race six weeks ago and is widely thought to have an insurmountable head start.
A clutch of lesser known contenders also took the plunge early, including Toronto lawyer and public policy consultant Deborah Coyne, mother of Trudeau’s half sister, Vancouver Crown prosecutor Alex Burton, Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi, Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley and David Merner, former president of the party’s British Columbia wing.
Although the early birds have been criss-crossing the country, delivering speeches, meeting grassroots Liberals, launching websites and issuing email blasts, none can become an official contender until Wednesday and then only after paying an entry fee that turns out to be even steeper than previously thought.
The party has imposed a $75,000 fee for entering the contest — to be paid in three instalments, the first due upon registration as a candidate, the last due by mid-January.
However, since the party has also imposed a tithe of 10 per cent on every dollar raised by leadership contenders, each candidate essentially has to come up with $82,500 in order to cover the entry fee.
“Funding will pose a tough challenge for many candidates, myself included,” Mousley conceded in a frank email blast earlier this month, appealing for donations.
There is also a possibility that the party could yet impose a nominal fee on supporters before allowing them to vote for the next leader.
The supporter category was created earlier this year and was intended to give all comers — not just those willing to pay a membership fee — a voice in choosing the party’s next leader. Charging them a fee to vote would appear to defeat the whole purpose and is, according to insiders, unlikely to be adopted by the party’s board.
However, several leadership camps support the idea, including that of former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon. Indeed, insiders say Cauchon is unlikely to run unless a voting fee or some other mechanism is found to ensure the race is more than a beauty contest determined by supporters who may have only a fleeting attachment to the party.
Other camps believe a voting fee, requiring the use of a credit card to verify supporters’ addresses, could be one way to prevent voting fraud.
The results are to be weighted to give each riding equal clout, giving voters in ridings with few Liberals more heft than those in ridings with thousands of members. Without some way to verify addresses, Liberals are concerned supporters could distort the outcome by professing to reside in ridings where there are few Liberals.
During a conference call Monday, insiders said representatives of the various leadership camps were assured the party has come up with measures to verify the identity and addresses of supporters.
However, party officials refused to reveal the precise nature of those measures so as to avoid giving anyone ideas about how to get around them.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 9:35 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi has formally launched his campaign to become the…
OTTAWA – Ottawa lawyer David Bertschi has formally launched his campaign to become the next federal Liberal leader.
Bertschi, a father of six who ran unsuccessfully for the party in 2011 in Ottawa-Orleans, is a relative unknown.
He’s going up against prohibitive favourite Justin Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and the party’s undisputed rock star.
Bertschi is casting himself as the underdog champion of grassroots Liberals, in contrast to Trudeau, whom he depicts as the manufactured choice of Liberal elites.
Two other relative unknowns — Toronto lawyer Deborah Coyne, mother of Trudeau’s half-sister, and Vancouver Crown prosecutor Alex Burton — have also officially launched campaigns.
But Bertschi insists Liberals have only two real choices in the leadership race, which culminates April 14.
“We can choose to continue down the same old path of manufactured leadership from the backrooms, where we are led with top-down directives, where the grassroots are ignored and where our party is controlled by a handful of elites,” he said in a speech Wednesday evening to supporters in Orleans, the text of which was made available earlier.
“Or we can choose leadership that is committed to rebuilding the Liberal party from the grassroots, where your voice and the voices of Canadians are listened to and respected.”
A number of other long-shots are poised to take the plunge, including Toronto lawyer George Takach and Ontario government economist Jonathan Mousley.
Former MPs Martha Hall Findlay and Martin Cauchon are still weighing their chances.
Many Liberals are hoping the race will not turn into a Trudeau coronation. But with one Liberal luminary after another taking a pass, the best hope for a serious challenger likely lies with Montreal MP Marc Garneau.
Garneau, Canada’s first astronaut and the Liberals’ House leader, is expected to take the plunge as early as next week.
The stiff $75,000-entry fee set by the party — due in three instalments by mid-January — may yet prove an insurmountable obstacle to some of the dark horse contenders.
By The Canadian Press - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 3:49 PM - 0 Comments
HALIFAX – Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau says he would welcome the entrance of…
HALIFAX – Liberal leadership hopeful Justin Trudeau says he would welcome the entrance of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty into the race to lead the federal party.
The perceived front-runner said today in Halifax that he didn’t want to speculate on McGuinty’s plans, one day after the Ontario leader announced his resignation.
Trudeau says McGuinty has served his province and country well and would add to what he insisted will be “a strong and robust leadership race.”
Trudeau, who addressed students at a packed high school auditorium, says he hasn’t spoken to McGuinty but added that there will be strong candidates running even if he decides not to enter the race.
McGuinty, who was first elected premier in 2003, has left the door open to the leadership bid and sources say a campaign road map has already been sketched out.
A movement to draft McGuinty has been fuelled by a sense that the race needs a heavyweight contender to challenge Trudeau, the eldest son of former prime minister and Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau.
By Jonathon Gatehouse - Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM - 0 Comments
He’s the most popular politician in Canada—and not just because of his last name
Justin Trudeau lets the question hang in the air for long seconds before he exhales heavily and begins to answer. It can’t have taken him by surprise, but it’s not the sort of thing one wants to appear to be too cavalier, or God forbid, eager about. Why does he want to be prime minister?
The words are slow and deliberate at first, then gradually pick up steam. He touches on the deaths of his youngest brother and his father, more than a decade ago, and how the public outpourings of sympathy reinforced his already unique relationship with Canadians. He speaks of his own children, Xavier, 5, and Ella, 3, and his conflicting desires to spend more time with them, yet enhance their future. There’s a nod to the last few months of deliberation and doubt. He’s forthright enough to admit that the timing isn’t ideal—in a perfect world he’d have more Parliamentary experience, maybe even a stint in cabinet under his belt. But the opportunity to become leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and thereby start auditioning for an even bigger job, is presenting itself now. And for better or for worse, he feels like it’s his destiny.
“Can I actually make a difference? Can I get people to believe in politics once again? Can I get people to accept more complex answers to complex questions? I know I can. I know that’s what I do very well. Why am I doing this? Because I can, not because I want to. Because I must.” His voice drops to a whisper on the final word. The bells at the church across the road from the café where we’re sitting in his Montreal riding are tolling the noon hour. It’s all gotten a bit dramatic. He catches himself and laughs. “I wish there was a simple, easy answer, but there’s a lot of factors. I guess it comes down to that I love this country, and I think I can do better than what we are currently getting from our politicians.”