By Aaron Wherry - Monday, May 6, 2013 - 0 Comments
NDP MP Dan Harris challenged the government on Friday on the subject of Marc Garneau’s not being invited to a celebration of the Canadarm. Paul Calandra, parliamentary secretary to the heritage minister, was rather dismissive in response.
This afternoon, Mr. Calandra took a moment to apologize.
By The Canadian Press - Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:59 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Marc Garneau — the only MP who’s ever flown in space —…
OTTAWA – Marc Garneau — the only MP who’s ever flown in space — is insulted that he wasn’t invited to Thursday’s opening of a Canadarm exhibit at a national museum.
Adding insult to injury, the Liberal MP says it was his idea to display the iconic robotic space arm at a public museum, rather than have it moulder in obscurity at the Canadian Space Agency’s headquarters near Montreal.
Garneau is Canada’s first astronaut and a former head of the space agency.
He operated the Canadarm on two of his three space missions.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM - 0 Comments
Like most everything interesting that Michael Ignatieff ever said, he probably should not have said it.
“I never want to raise your taxes; I pay them (the same way) as you do,” the former Liberal leader told a crowd in Mississauga on a July day in 2010. “But we pay them to express fundamental social solidarity, one with the other. This is the contract that holds us together.”
He had actually gone on at some length about this in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in the fall of 2009. “Back in July, after the G8 Summit in Italy, Mr. Harper gave an interview to The Globe and Mail, in which he said, and I quote: ‘I don’t believe that any taxes are good taxes.’ Think about that for a moment,” Mr. Ignatieff begged. “It’s an astonishing statement for a prime minister to make. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, so that premature infants get nursing care when they’re born; so that policemen will be there to keep our streets safe; so that we have teachers to give our kids a good education. We pay taxes, Mr. Harper, because we’re all in this together. It costs us something, but it makes Canada the place it is: a place where we look out for each other. But Stephen Harper doesn’t think that way. Stephen Harper thinks no taxes are good taxes because he believes that the only good government is no government at all.”
In fairness, Mr. Harper does not appear to be an anarchist. And even Ron Paul allows that the government might be of some use. And for all Mr. Ignatieff’s willingness to defend the social contract, he would move to loudly proclaim his opposition to raising the GST after being caught musing about the possibility.
Even if one does not accept Mr. Ignatieff’s larger premise, rare is anyone willing to suggest that taxes might be applied in larger quantities to anyone other than the wealthy or the faceless (corporations). Because even if no one is seriously calling for taxes to be eliminated—even if the debate is basically, if quietly, about the size, shape and execution of our fundamental social solidarity, or at least the precise number of services we would lament if they suddenly disappeared—we have generally come to Mr. Harper’s position. Taxes are bad. Mr. Harper has sworn that, so long as he is prime minister, there will be no new taxes. Thomas Mulcair has said no to increasing taxes (even if he also advocates for a price on carbon). Justin Trudeau has said he would not increase the GST, nor the corporate tax rate and he would not implement a tax on the rich. Taxing the earnings of corporations is a tax on job creators. Taxing pollution is a tax on everything. Tax Freedom Day is something that is proudly celebrated.
Possibly this is all Bev Oda’s fault, she and her $16 glass of orange juice. And at least so long as we are never in need of more general revenue, perhaps we will be fine. But this now drives us to distraction. The abject awfulness of taxes apparently now so deeply felt that one cannot even bring oneself to admit that one is responsible for the imposition of such suffering. Continue…
By John Geddes - Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 10:04 AM - 0 Comments
The scoffing term for what’s about to happen to Justin Trudeau, in case you haven’t picked up on it, is “coronation.” The implication being that the dauphin strolled unimpeded through the Liberal leadership race, which wraps up with presentations today in Toronto from Trudeau and his five remaining—well, I guess they are still to be called—rivals. (The online and telephone balloting by some 127,000 Liberal party members and supporters who signed up to vote runs April 7 to April 14, when the winner will be announced in Ottawa.)
Yet if a crown is to be placed, so to speak, on the most ogled head of hair in Canadian politics—the wavy antithesis of Stephen Harper’s helmet—it’s not like those locks haven’t been mussed a bit along the way. Trudeau’s frontrunner status may never have been threatened, but all his key purported weaknesses—thin experience, a cosseted upbringing, a brittle stance on Quebec, aversion to left-of-centre cooperation—were pointedly highlighted along the way.
At those moments, Conservatives and New Democrats were watching most closely, and so they are worth recapping for signs of whether these tests did more to expose Trudeau’s vulnerabilities or fortify his defences.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM - 0 Comments
Jonathan Kay suggests Marc Garneau’s defeat is a defeat for idealistic pundits (and possibly a mark of shame on the entire nation).
Pity Marc Garneau. We said we wanted a serious intellectual promoting serious policy ideas. He was brilliant enough to fit the role perfectly. And naïve enough to think we actually meant it.
Alice Funke, meanwhile, suggests Mr. Garneau never fulfilled the promise of substantiveness that he made.
Kay could have probably written the same thing about Michael Ignatieff in May 2011 or Stephane Dion in October 2008. But then he wouldn’t have been able to say that voters chose instead to fall in love with a sexy, charismatic pop idol. (In fact, in three consecutive elections, a plurality of voters has chosen a party led by a relatively unexciting policy wonk who likes to remind people that he studied economics.)
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM - 0 Comments
I know one former senior advisor to Stephen Harper who responds to the mention of Justin Trudeau the way one would expect somebody with that pedigree to respond: with condescending contempt. But I know other Conservatives, some still in the Prime Minister’s employ, who see the way crowds react, still today, to the Montreal MP, and shrug. Maybe we can’t do anything against this guy, they say. Maybe things are what they are and we’re just going to have to watch it happen.
Marc Garneau dropped out of the Liberal leadership contest because he is not a fool. The poll numbers he released, if anywhere near accurate, would have led to futile humiliation. He would have lost badly and then been asked to rally to the new leader. He is an engineer, so he found a more elegant solution. He is rallying now to avoid losing later. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM - 0 Comments
Officially, there is still a month left in the Liberal leadership race. Unofficially, the race was declared finished this morning. For all intents and purposes, maybe it wasn’t ever a race.
Marc Garneau quit this morning, despite, in his estimation, running in second place. According to the poll numbers he read aloud to reporters, Justin Trudeau enjoys the support of 72% of Liberals. Mr. Garneau had the support of 15%. Joyce Murray was next with 7.4%, then Martha Hall Findlay with 5.2%. (The survey apparently didn’t include the other candidates.)
Of course, Mr. Trudeau could still lose. A month is a long time. Something could happen to imperil the Trudeau campaign. But the most realistic alternative is now out of the race and so the odds of Mr. Trudeau losing now become that much longer (so long that you now have to dream up a fairly crazy scenario to imagine anyone else winning).
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 11:16 AM - 0 Comments
Marc Garneau’s statement on his withdrawal from the Liberal leadership race.
But it is my opinion now, based on internal analysis, the Party has chosen. Justin Trudeau is the person Liberals want to see as the new leader of our party and I recognize that and congratulate him. The number of new signups, the external polls and my own internal polling show that I have a solid base of support and that I am the Party’s leading second choice, but ultimately, I am second. Justin is poised for a decisive victory and it is time now for me to down tools.
I congratulate my fellow candidates. They deserve to be recognized for stepping forward in what is a very demanding process. I have made my message clear – the party must be clear on where it stands and where it wants to lead. There is a significant portion of Liberal party members and supporters that supported my message. In speaking with Justin, I know he understands and that message has been received. I look forward to working with him on that.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, March 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM - 0 Comments
Trudeau’s lead is too large, says Garneau
OTTAWA – MP Marc Garneau, despite running a “solid second” in the federal Liberal leadership race, has ended his campaign and thrown his support behind front-runner Justin Trudeau.
Garneau made the decision after internal polling made it clear to him that despite his second-place status, winning would be impossible given Trudeau’s lead.
“I entered this race with the intention of winning,” Garneau told a news conference Wednesday in Ottawa. “I have done my numbers. I cannot mathematically — and I’m a person who believes in math — I cannot mathematically win.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, February 25, 2013 at 10:33 AM - 0 Comments
Marc Garneau challenges Justin Trudeau to a one-on-one debate.
For weeks now I have said Justin Trudeau owes it to Canadians and to members of the Liberal Party to tell us what he stands for and what qualifies him to be leader of the party and the country – now, not after this race is over. If he truly has the qualities to be leader, he should have the courage of his convictions to display them in a one-on-one debate with me…
The current format of Liberal Party leadership debates has so far provided limited opportunity for the nine candidates to offer a full picture of their contrasting views. There have been only fleeting moments for substantive debate and discussion of the issues and qualities of those involved. To date, Justin and I have had only three minutes to debate one-on-one. That is not good enough.
Mr. Trudeau seems willing to stick with the regularly scheduled debates.
Liberals who would dismiss Mr. Garneau’s challenge, might want to remember that the last Liberal leader was quite eager for a one-on-one debate with the presumed frontrunner during the last general election.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, February 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM - 0 Comments
Yesterday, Marc Garneau criticized Justin Trudeau for comments Mr. Trudeau made about Quebec secession. Today, the Garneau campaign announces that the candidate disagrees with Mr. Trudeau’s stance on Senate reform (see previously: The solution is not better patronage and How would Trudeau appoint senators?)
Liberal Leadership Candidate Marc Garneau would push for an elected Senate with limited terms, in stark contrast to fellow leadership candidate Justin Trudeau’s status quo approach to the red chamber.
“I fundamentally disagree with Justin Trudeau, who has said he would stick with the status quo and simply nominate better Senators,” said Garneau, who is travelling in rural Quebec this week.
“Trudeau says reform is too problematic. I say real leaders find solutions to make positive change. They don’t give in to the status quo because it’s too hard.”
Garneau said Australia, which also has a parliamentary system, has a tie-breaking mechanism between its House of Commons and its Senate, and has an elected senate that could serve as a model for Canada
He said he would work with the provinces and constitutional experts to create an elected Senate that would address regional balance and ensure the House of Commons would be the final arbiter.
“Canadians have made clear that they are dissatisfied with the undemocratic, unrepresentative Senate as it now stands. My position is Canada must work with the provinces to create an elected Senate with limited terms,” said Garneau.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
“The party has to make a decision on far more substantial and fundamental decisions than celebrity,” she said. “There is no such thing as a silver bullet. This is a really big decision and it is absolutely a question of substance and experience. It’s also not about celebrity. Fame is fickle.”
She also struck a conciliatory note towards her 41-year-old rival. “We’re friends,” she said of Trudeau. “I have all sorts of respect for Justin and the celebrity he brings to the party is fantastic, but I wouldn’t be running for the leader of the Liberal Party of Canada if I felt he had enough experience and substance to be a prime minister.”
Marc Garneau is likewise vowing to carry on questioning the frontrunner.
This will probably make some Liberals nervous—direct and most likely futile attacks against the individual who is likely to be the party’s next leader—but it’s also, objectively, a bit silly to criticize a politician for trying to wage a political campaign in pursuit of political office. This is obviously a tricky question for partisans, who would like to say their party staged a viable leadership race, but who would also like the winner to emerge from it unscathed. In 2006, Michael Ignatieff got into it with Stephane Dion during a leadership debate and the Conservatives later used the clip for an attack ad. Such is the stuff of Liberal nightmares. But they might also remember that they managed to make Mr. Ignatieff leader in 2009 without any kind of leadership race and not having to be criticized by anyone who was unlikely to beat him didn’t matter much two years later when he led the party to its worst result in two decades.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 11:34 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal Party of Canada held its third leadership debate over the weekend; you probably heard about how it led to an argument about the terrible things Martha said to Justin and what Marc said about what Martha said to Justin and whether or not there is actually anything in what Martha said to Justin… well, the news-cycle hivemind cannot help making things personal.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM - 0 Comments
Via Twitter, Marc Garneau sends his regards to Justin Trudeau this evening.
Local coverage of Mr. Trudeau’s speech at Trent is here.
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 9:41 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – Marc Garneau shook up the heretofore genteel Liberal leadership race on Wednesday,…
OTTAWA – Marc Garneau shook up the heretofore genteel Liberal leadership race on Wednesday, launching the first direct, sustained attack on front-runner Justin Trudeau.
The astronaut-turned-politician held a news conference to accuse Trudeau of offering only “vague generalities” and empty platitudes during the contest so far.
He challenged his fellow Montreal MP to set out a detailed policy platform, arguing that Trudeau’s failure to do so thus far “is the same as asking Canadians to buy a new car without test-driving it.”
“He has told Canadians that we need a ‘bold plan’ and a ‘clear vision’ without defining either,” Garneau said. “On Justin’s two clear priorities — the middle class and youth engagement — he has said nothing.
“We have to know what we’re voting for, not just who we’re voting for.”
Garneau’s broadside met with a mixed reaction from his caucus colleagues, with some seeing it as a normal sign of a vigorous contest and others seeing it as a sign of desperation in the face of the apparent Trudeau juggernaut.
For his own part, Garneau appeared frustrated that the allegedly insubstantial Trudeau, eldest son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, appears to be coasting to victory on little more than his celebrity and his pedigree. Garneau’s voice shook with emotion as he appealed to Liberals not to allow another coronation.
“We made the mistake last time of saying, ‘All we have to do is choose a leader and everything will work out’,” he said, referring to the uncontested crowning of Michael Ignatieff.
“We did not define ourselves, the Conservatives ended up defining us. They’ll do it again this time unless we know where each of the candidates stands.
“I am doing the Liberal party a big favour by bringing this up. It’s a difficult question but it’s one that needs to be asked.”
Trudeau has in fact disclosed where he stands on a number of policy fronts, including foreign investment in the oil sands, proposed pipelines from Alberta to the British Columbia coast, the “failed” long gun registry, legalization of marijuana, Senate reform and electoral reform. He recently released a detailed set of proposals for empowering backbenchers and diluting the concentration of power in the Prime Minister’s Office.
But Garneau dismissed such policy forays as simply responding to “the topic of the day,” as all nine leadership contenders have done.
“What I’m talking about is a very different thing. What I’m talking about is a coherent vision that comes from deep inside as to what the Liberal party stands for and how it will address the future,” he said.
In contrast to Trudeau, Garneau boasted that he has unveiled policy planks on “serious, big time” issues such as the knowledge economy, trade, telecommunications, Western Canada, electoral reform, student debt and youth employment.
Trudeau, who was attending a Liberal caucus meeting during Garneau’s news conference, chose not to respond immediately.
Later Wednesday, after speaking at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., the front-runner made no apologies for his refusal to unveil a detailed platform. While he’s taken strong positions on a wide range of issues, Trudeau said his campaign is aimed at involving Canadians in politics again, including policy development.
“What I bring to the table is the capacity to draw people in, to believe and participate in politics once again,” he said.
“I’ve talked about a lot of substance and I’ll continue to … We just have to be sure that we’re leaving room for Canadians in the development of solutions that are going to carry us into a better place as of 2015.”
Trudeau has repeatedly maintained that the leadership contest is not the time to unveil a detailed platform for the next election in 2015, arguing that platform development should not be a top-down exercise that reflects only the views of the leader’s inner circle.
Garneau insisted he’s being “constructive” and shrugged off suggestions his attack on Trudeau risks giving the Conservatives ammunition for their next set of attack ads. Embarrassing clips from the 2006 Liberal leadership contest were used to great effect in Tory ads that ridiculed the last two Grit leaders, Stephane Dion and Ignatieff.
Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison, who ran for the party leadership in 2006 and has not publicly endorsed anyone in the current contest, said Garneau’s criticism of Trudeau is “not justified or accurate or helpful.”
“I don’t think we need to give any aid to Conservative negative attack ads,” he said.
Brison added that he’s “disappointed” in Garneau, saying his attack is “not in character” and smacks of desperation.
“I’ve been there. I’ve been a candidate when things weren’t going so well in a leadership race, so I can understand the motivation to shake things up. But you have to be very careful … that you don’t jettison somebody else who will ultimately not just be leader but is very well positioned to become prime minister.”
According to the most recent financial reports filed with Elections Canada, Trudeau is miles ahead of the eight other contenders in terms of fundraising, while Garneau is a distant third. Trudeau had raised almost $700,000 by the end of last year, while Martha Hall Findlay had raised about $150,000 and Garneau just over $122,000.
Trudeau has been endorsed by 19 fellow MPs so far, while Garneau has captured the support of three. No other contender has yet snagged a caucus endorsement.
Interim Liberal leader Bob Rae called Garneau’s broadside a normal part of the leadership campaign process.
“Politics is a lot more like hockey than it is like ballet. So there’s going to be some vigorous contact,” Rae said.
The race ends April 14.
By John Geddes - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 3:52 PM - 0 Comments
From the day Marc Garneau officially launched his bid for the Liberal leadership late last November, I’ve wondered when he would take aim more explicitly at Justin Trudeau, the guy to beat. It seems today is the day.
At his news conference announcing his run, Garneau sounded to me like he was trying to frame the contrast, but without quite saying so. “I will talk about my strengths and my strengths are proven,” he answered then when I asked him about the Trudeau comparison. “That is what I have to do and that is what I will clearly do.”
I interviewed him at length in late December for this story, and pressed him again on how he expected to catch up to a prohibitive frontrunner without bluntly asking Liberals to think hard about why he might be the better choice. Garneau said the danger of sparking a bruising intramural battle was too great and, anyway, he figured Liberals would draw their own conclusions. Here’s how he put it: Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, February 13, 2013 at 1:13 PM - 0 Comments
Marc Garneau issues a direct challenge to Justin Trudeau.
I believe this leadership race is the time for the party to vigorously debate the issues of importance to Liberals, to Canadians; to define where we stand as a party; and to select the person who can best lead us.
That’s the fundamental difference between Justin Trudeau and myself. Justin believes telling Canadians we need a ‘bold’ plan and a ‘clear vision’ without defining either is good enough. He speaks in vague generalities, and on his two key priorities – the middle-class and youth – he has presented no direction.
Susan Delacourt posts a transcript of Mr. Trudeau’s explanation for the lack of policy.
So the big difference, to my mind, is in what we actually see as a need for the Liberal party to do. Many of my colleagues are very much emphasizing their strengths around policy and their specific ideas and I’m actually frustrating both media pundits and a lot of others — not because I haven’t had a lot of very clear things to say, whether it be against the Northern Gateway pipeline, in favour of the legalization of marijuana, against strengthening the language laws in Quebec, various things that are … difficult issues for politicians to deal with.
But because I’m not going to be putting forward a comprehensive platform over the course of this leadership. And that’s because the Liberal party has gotten far too much in the habit of generating a platform by the leader and some very smart people around them, that they then turn to Liberals across the country and say ‘now go and sell this door to door.’ This leadership is the beginning of a platform-development process, not the end of it. And what we do around connecting and drawing in ideas from around the country, not just from Liberal circles, but from Canadians who are looking for a better option, right across the country, will be the big work we have to do over the coming months and even years leading up to 2015.
By John Geddes - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 6:13 PM - 0 Comments
What are the most urgent matters confronting the federal government just now? I ask because I wonder if anybody heard the issues they’d list mentioned much at the Liberal leadership debate—well, not really a debate, but a series of laid-back on-stage interviews—in Winnipeg this afternoon.
Reasonable observers will naturally differ on such a broad question. Still, I’d expect, if we’re talking domestic policy, many to cite the dicey problem of budget-making during such a prolonged stretch of slow economic growth. How to shrink the deficit while still maintaining, even expanding, priority programs? It’s the daily dilemma of governing. It didn’t come up.
On foreign policy, Mali is driving home the lesson that even with Canadian troops no longer fighting in Afghanistan, the pressures of Islamist extremism in vulnerable, far-away countries will continue to demand responses from western nations, Canada inevitably included. Again, not touched at today’s Liberal event.
By Aaron Wherry - Saturday, February 2, 2013 at 1:50 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberals are holding their leadership debate (or, rather, their first series of “Davos-style” conversations with the candidates) in Winnipeg this afternoon. Each of the contenders will sit down for an 11-minute conversation with Harvey Locke, the Liberal candidate in last year’s Calgary Centre by-election.
You can stream the proceedings here. We’ll start the live blog shortly (hit refresh for the latest update).
2:00pm. So, again, this is “Davos-style,” only without all the powerful and influential people that make Davos interesting. At least Winnipeg is a more interesting place than Switzerland.
2:03pm. First up is Karen McCrimmon. First question from Mr. Locke isn’t actually a question: “Please tell us a personal insight that you’d like Canadians to have about you.”
2:05pm. Second question: There is a perception that we’re an urban party beyond the Maritimes, should we do more to attract rural voters? Tough one. Ms. McCrimmon goes with “absolutely.”
2:10pm. There now seems to be some kind of disruption. Someone is banging on a drum and shouting.
2:11pm. Mr. Locke and Ms. McCrimmon are attempting to talk over the noise. Apparently the disruption, now concluded, was related to Idle No More.
2:14pm. Next up, Marc Garneau. He likes to do household chores, particularly vacuuming.
2:18pm. Adam Goldenberg argues this format is valuable because a party leader will do many one-on-one interviews. Perhaps. But these seem to be the easiest interviews a politician will ever do. If this is a test, it’s a pretty basic test.
2:24pm. If the challenge is basically surface-level: looking and sounding the part, Mr. Garneau did fairly well there. Looks and sounds like an experienced politician.
2:30pm. Joyce Murray might make a good environment minister in a Liberal government.
2:32pm. I hope one of the candidates answers one of Locke’s questions with “no comment.”
2:34pm. Ms. Murray busts Mr. Locke for being too long-winded in this questions. That will be the sharpest exchange of the afternoon. Suggested headline: “Murray lands knockout punch on Locke”
2:36pm. Justin Trudeau goes with the “no jacket/rolled up sleeves” look. Very Jack Layton. Asked for a personal anecdote, he says he misses his children. Boom. That is how you do politics. And then, somehow, he segues from that into a comment on the young people in Idle No More and an acknowledgement of the protester. Double Boom.
2:38pm. Mr. Trudeau launches into a defence of supply management, which serves as a swipe at Martha Hall Findlay.
2:41pm. Thinking back on Mr. Trudeau’s opening remarks, he probably missed an obvious opening to sing the first verse of the Greatest Love of All. Bit of a mistake. But he’ll learn not to let those opportunities go missed.
2:46pm. Mr. Trudeau explains that he has been to Sweden and that Canada needs its own Ikea (I’m paraphrasing). So there’s Scott Feschuk’s next column.
2:48pm. Deborah Coyne’s personal anecdote is that it’s Groundhog Day and she loves the movie, Groundhog Day, and that the movie is sort of an analogy for the Liberal party’s present challenge. Idea alert: What the Liberal party needs is Bill Murray.
2:59pm. David Bertschi comes out wearing a Liberal party scarf. In case there was some doubt about which party he supports.
3:04pm. The professionalization of politics is a touchy subject and it’s problematic to argue against political participation: But can we have a Davos-style conversation about who should be running for leader of a political party? If you’ve never held political office, how well can you hope to lead a party in a parliamentary system? Set aside the question of finding a seat to win so that you can sit in the House (Jean Chretien, Stephen Harper and Jack Layton didn’t have seats when they became party leaders). What evidence is there that individuals who’ve never been elected can win a party leadership and then succeed in that role? Haven’t the most successful political leaders of the last 20 years been experienced, practiced politicians? What evidence is there that outsiders or unconventional politicians can succeed? What does this tell us about politics? Should we, perhaps, view politics as we do any other profession: something at which you must be experienced in to succeed?
3:14pm. Martin Cauchon warns that dumping supply management means eating unsafe food.
3:18pm. Here’s one request I’d make: If you enter a party leadership race as a relative long shot, bring some unique angle to the race. Call it the Ron Paul Rule (or the Rick Santorum Rule, or maybe the Nathan Cullen Rule). Joyce Murray is sort of doing this with electoral cooperation and Martha Hall Findlay is kind of doing this with supply management. But you should have either a particular ideology or a set of really bold policy proposals.
3:24pm. Martha Hall Findlay defends ending supply management. This is a fun debate. Ms. Hall Findlay is smart to make it about the cost of food for families.
3:32pm. Ms. Hall Findlay accuses Mr. Locke of asking too easy a question about crime policy.
3:33pm. Ms. Hall Findlay says the Liberals should have done a better job standing up to the government’s crime bills in the last two parliaments. The party needs more courage. Fair enough. Where was that courage at the time?
3:36pm. George Takach describes him as the “tech candidate.” I’m not sure that meets the Ron Paul Rule. Unless Mr. Takach’s answer to every dilemma is computers. (Although that would be interesting.)
3:39pm. Mr. Takach really wants to fight somebody.
3:44pm. Mr. Takach, answering a question about supply management, “And I will weave in my modest upbringing.” Very meta.
3:46pm. Closing statements. No lectern and all the candidates are on the stage at the same time. Ms. Murray pitches cooperation and picks up on Ms. Coyne’s Groundhog Day analogy. Mr. Trudeau pitches his democratic reforms. Mr. Garneau says the Liberal leader needs to be clear and specific about what he or she wants to do (subtext: Mr. Trudeau isn’t being clear enough about what he would do and where he stands). Ms. Hall Findlay says she’s pretty good with substantive policy and that this is about substance, experience and intelligence and tough decisions and courage and that there are no silver bullets (subtext: Mr. Trudeau is the silver bullet I’m contrasting myself with). Mr. Takach criticizes Mr. Locke for not asking enough questions about the economy.
4:01pm. And that’s that. This changes… probably not much. My general take on this race remains the same as it was two weeks ago.
By John Geddes - Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 1:00 PM - 0 Comments
How Canada’s first astronaut stacks up against Justin Trudeau
Being Canada’s first astronaut doesn’t seem like a fact pulled from the biography of a dull man. Yet Marc Garneau—arguably the Liberal leadership candidate with the clearest shot at catching up to prohibitive front-runner Justin Trudeau—acknowledges that his past NASA exploits haven’t prevented a rather earthbound image of him from taking hold. He’s often viewed less as an exciting spaceman than as a dry critic of the government’s technology and industry policy. “I think to some extent people view me in a stereotypical way,” he says of the science and engineering credentials he brought into politics. “I would like them to know me more as a complete person.”
To that end, Garneau urged Liberals, at the close of the party’s first leadership debate last Sunday in Vancouver, to consider everything he’s ever done. “Leadership is the product of your life experience,” he said. “It’s what you’ve accomplished.” Garneau has been a naval officer, an astronaut of course, president of the Canadian Space Agency and now a Montreal MP. If he didn’t mention Trudeau’s path to the front of the leadership pack—famous son of a prime minister, schoolteacher and then also a Montreal MP—the implicit comparison was hard to miss.
But as Garneau claims an experience edge, Trudeau argues that the next Liberal leader’s real job is grabbing the attention of voters, his own obvious forte. “We have to get out and connect with Canadians,” he said in Vancouver. And for a third-place party, the need to stir enthusiasm is undeniable. That leaves Garneau with the task of not just reminding Liberals of his impressive past, but also getting them to rethink how he performs now. Even he admits that his style as a novice in the House of Commons, after first winning his Westmount-Ville-Marie riding in the 2008 election, was often “wooden.” But he contends that he’s picked up his political game since the 2011 election, and will prove it before the party’s April 14 leadership vote. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 3:44 PM - 0 Comments
Welcome to live coverage of the first Liberal leadership debate. The debate begins at 4 p.m. EST and can be streamed at CPAC.ca, Liberal.ca and CBC.ca. CPAC and CBC News Network are also carrying the proceedings on television.
We’ll commence the live blog shortly. Hit refresh for the latest updates.
3:49pm. The theme of this debate is “Can anyone here pierce the aura of invincibility that surrounds Justin Trudeau?” The first round will focus on hair care. Officially, there will be opening statement, then two questions for all nine candidates, then 12 mini-debates among groups of three candidates and then closing statements.
3:52pm. Despite the fact that there are nine candidates, the Liberal party has apparently declined to use a Hollywood Squares setup.
3:56pm. Here are your official themes for the afternoon: aboriginal issues, the environment, social housing, Pacific Rim Trade and electoral cooperation and reform.
4:05pm. Legalized weed obviously gets the first applause of the afternoon.
4:10pm. Marc Garneau goes with a Kim Campbell joke. (The one about how she said an election wasn’t the time to discuss
policyserious issues.) Probably gets his point across: He’s about policy, not nice hair. But Kim Campbell said that 20 years ago. Most of the NDP caucus wasn’t even in grade school when she made that gaffe. It’s time to get a new punchline.
4:15pm. Justin Trudeau does his Trudeau thing: staring into the nation’s soul, enthusing about the possibility of greatness and so forth.
4:19pm. There are four people on stage who ran for the Liberals in 2011 and lost. If you ran for the Liberals in 2011 and lost, there’s a 1.5 per cent chance that you’re a leadership candidate now.
4:24pm. Opening statements give way to a discussion of aboriginal issues. Time for collaboration and discussion and cooperation and leadership, everyone seems to agree. Martha Hall Findlay is really mad that Thomas Mulcair suggested that some progress had been made with last week’s meeting between the Prime Minister and First Nations. “The gaul!” she says. For that matter, if the NDP hadn’t helped defeat the Liberal government in 2004, the Kelowna Accord would’ve been implemented. Liberals love talking about the Kelowna Accord. New Democrats and Conservatives would probably love to talk about why the Liberal government fell in 2004.
4:37pm. Nobody but Joyce Murray wants to work with the NDP. She is the Liberal party’s Nathan Cullen. Well-positioned for a strong third-place finish. Karen McCrimmon argues that the best countries in the world have more than two parties. Risky move to openly disparage the United States and China like that.
4:42pm. Marc Garneau notes his ranked ballot proposal. Martha Hall Findlay endorses the idea. How about a coalition? Are any of these candidates willing to say they’d entertain the possibility of forming a coalition—either as the junior or senior partner—after the 2015 election?
4:46pm. With everyone but Ms. Murray having dismissed electoral cooperation with the New Democrats, an audience member asks how the Liberals might cooperate with the New Democrats in 2015 (because Mackenzie King did it once, apparently). Deborah Coyne allows for the possibility of post-election cooperation.
4:51pm. Martha Hall Findlay raises the example of Liberals voting for Joe Clark in Calgary in 2000 as an example of… something. The Liberals need their Joe Clark? Liberals need to be willing to vote for other parties?
4:53pm. On the issue of energy development and sustainability, Marc Garneau notes that he was an astronaut. David Bertschi and George Takach make fun of him. Mr. Takach refers to himself as “the tech candidate.” Mr. Garneau says he is also a tech candidate. Mr. Takach suggests that Mr. Garneau cannot be both the astronat and the tech candidate. That’s about the extent of the disagreement so far.
5:00pm. Joyce Murray shouts out a “price on carbon.”
5:06pm. A mini-debate on scrapping first-past-the-post. Karen McCrimmon wants to circulate petitions to determine what people want. I suspect this would result in the people demanding a Death Star.
5:09pm. Justin Trudeau wants a ranked ballot. Joyce Murray wants to cooperate with the NDP. Mr. Trudeau happily takes the opportunity to champion a principled Liberal party. Ms. Murray challenges him to demonstrate he has a plan to defeat Stephen Harper. Mr. Trudeau happily takes the opportunity to champion the Liberal party. Here’s my question: How do you cooperate with the NDP if the NDP doesn’t want to cooperate? Are you hoping that NDP riding associations will go maverick and dare Thomas Mulcair to stop them from cooperating with Liberals?
5:16pm. I think David Bertschi just took another shot at the fact that Marc Garneau was in space while Bertschi was doing stuff on earth. How big is the anti-space vote in the Liberal party? Is this an attempt to repeat the Conservative campaign against Michael Ignatieff?
5:24pm. Mr. Takach loves the Internet. He needs to go further with this. Replace the House of Commons with gchat. Reorient our military to cyber-warfare. Give every citizen an iPhone. Turn Manitoba into a cyberworld like Tron.
5:34pm. A three-person debate about living conditions for First Nations and social housing gives Marc Garneau, Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall Findlay a chance to perform directly beside each other. All three probably come away feeling fairly good about their 90 seconds. Give those three an hour on stage together and you might get a real debate (or the sort that could shake this race up a bit).
5:44pm. There’s obviously a good reason to avoid a divisive leadership race: you want to avoid splitting the party, you don’t want to give the Conservatives or New Democrats any fodder for future attacks (remember those Conservative ads with Michael Ignatieff telling Stephane Dion that the Liberals didn’t get it done?). But the conventional wisdom here is that there’s an obvious and clear frontrunner (Mr. Trudeau). So can the other candidates resist the urge to attack him? Can they afford to (if they truly think they have a chance of winning)? Do they just hope he self destructs with his own gaffes? One possible caveat: if, say, the Garneau campaign has some sense that on the ground Mr. Trudeau’s advantage isn’t as great as the conventional wisdom assumes and that, as a result, they can win without having to tear him down.
5:54pm. Joyce Murray shouts out marijuana. More applause. How does the Marijuana Party respond to this? Their central agenda has been completely hijacked by the Liberals. Do they move on to harder drugs? Do they present the Liberals with a proposal to run joint nomination meetings ahead of 2015?
5:57pm. A question about putting a price on carbon. Deborah Coyne says “carbon tax.” Justin Trudeau says a lot of nice words about the unfortunate tenor of political discourse, notes that the Conservatives have acknowledged the need to put a price on carbon, but he doesn’t commit to how he’d put a price on carbon. George Takach says lots of nice words about political centrism and says there are “at least five ways” to put a price on carbon, one of which presumably the Liberals would go with if he was leader. I dare say the Conservatives have successfully scared the crap out of some of their rivals on this file.
6:06pm. Closing statements and that’s that. All in all, it was… fine. Nine candidates squeezed into two hours doesn’t allow for much of a debate. Probably a good day for Justin Trudeau, who showed again what he has to offer as a public figure and wasn’t obviously taken down a peg by any of the other candidates, and Marc Garneau, who made a concerted effort to set himself up as the anti-Trudeau and might’ve succeeded. See this tweet and this tweet from John Geddes. (And then this tweet from Alice Funke.) Not sure the conventional wisdom on this race changes much after this, but Mr. Garneau has to hope that, at the very least, the narrative now makes him the obvious (if still distant) second place.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leadership contender writes to party members with his thoughts on democratic reform.
If elected, my proposal would be to reform Canada’s electoral system by changing our voting process to a preferential ballot, or a ranked ballot. Used by many other nations, as well as the leadership races for the Liberal Party of Canada, the federal NDP and the Conservative Party of Canada, a preferential ballot better reflects the will of the people.
Using a ranked ballot, Canadians would no longer tick only one box indicating their first and only choice. Rather, they would rank their choices and tick not only their first choice, but their second, third, fourth, etc. choices. If no candidate wins more than 50 per cent of the votes when the first choice votes are tallied, the bottom candidate is dropped and his or her second choice votes are allocated to those who remain. The process continues until one candidate has achieved at least 50 per cent plus one of the support from that riding. The preferential ballot fundamentally addresses the challenge of vote splitting. Parliament will better reflect the real preferences of its people.
I have lately taken a liking to the idea of a ranked ballot: far less complicated than the various proportional representation scenarios that have been proposed in the past (and thus, I suspect, easier to convince the general public to support), but likely to produce a more representative result.
Mr. Garneau also says he would, as leader, only appoint candidates in exceptional circumstances. Fair enough, but why stop there? Why not go all the way and propose that the requirement that a candidate have the endorsement of his or her leader should be eliminated? If empowering local riding associations is a worthy goal, commit to it fully.
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 Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 1:23 PM - 0 Comments
The Liberal leadership candidate considers a ban on semi-automatic weapons.
The Montreal MP said Tuesday he’d look at banning semi-automatic weapons, like the military-style, .223-calibre Bushmaster used in last week’s massacre.
“There is absolutely no reason that anybody can vote to say that that kind of weapon, that can fire off great numbers of rounds like that, is necessary,” Garneau told The Canadian Press. ”That kind of weapon, to me, definitely — well, it is (already) a restricted weapon but one should look at not allowing those things.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 11:21 AM - 0 Comments
I would maintain restrictions on foreign ownership in broadcasting because of cultural and content implications to ensure continued production and broadcast of Canadian shows and content for television, film and new media. But I would open the doors on telecommunications. In Germany, Sweden, Italy, even France, there exist no restrictions on foreign investment in telecommunications. It is time for Canada to enter fully into the global market as well.
Let’s compete with the best and let competition bring new ideas, entice investment in new technologies, create new jobs in Canada and drive down the costs of our wireless bills. If a Vodaphone or a Verizon enters Canada and offers Canadians new choices, new options, all the better. New entrants will invest in new advanced networks benefiting Canadian consumers and businesses alike. The investment will support continued innovation in the digital economy, improve Canadian competitiveness and help create jobs.