Just one week prior to the announcement Liberal Party of Canada members and supports gathered from across the country in Toronto to hear candidates for leadership make their final pitch to their would-be constituency.
With little time remaining in what some may call the most important Liberal leadership race since 1991, when Jean Chretien was elected; Liberals are faced with a very important decision.
However, the gloves have not come off in this final week; as so many expected. The Liberal Party of Canada has engaged in a history of eating their own. That has not been the case in recent days. Six candidates have spoken to Canadians about their vision for the country going forward.
Deborah Coyne, who led off the Toronto showcase, has centred her message on the notion of a strong central government. She has targeted Prime Minister Harper for abandoning the other orders of government. However, in recent days, she did appear to concede her long shot status; promising to run in a Toronto riding and calling on other candidates to embrace her ideas.
Karen McCrimmon, who will be remembered for her Toronto Convention Centre entrance to a live bagpiper, the former servicewoman has long spoken of her credentials. She offered herself up as the ‘resume candidate’ with a specialization in foreign affairs. But she too, has long accepted her status as a long-shot candidate.
Martin Cauchon’s candidacy seems to have left him someone forgotten. Cauchon came into this race with a experience and a mind for progressive policy that should have made him a front runner. But his late entry combined with a campaign was based more on attacking the actual front runner than unveiling his own direction for the party left him low on many ballots.
Joyce Murray, the candidate of choice by many in the media with the most likely chance to take victory from Justin Trudeau, has framed herself as the ‘anti-Justin.’ She was to be the candidate of ideas. She was to be the candidate who had a plan to defeat Stephen Harper. But her primary platform point of an electoral non-aggression pact with the New Democratic and Green Parties of Canada has drawn significant criticism from those supporting other candidates. This alone has made it difficult to see how she ever could have amassed enough second choice votes to move into a front running position.
Justin Trudeau: son of former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot has been considered the front runner even before this race began. Coming out to the Toronto Convention Centre audience with an impressive show of lights and smoke, Trudeau has made it easy for all eyes to be on him. His speeches have been rousing and bustling. They have been heavy on hope. They have been light on substance. It is what Liberal Party members and supporters have come to expect. Moreover, it is exactly what many in the Liberal Party are seeking; an inspiring young leader who can out-politician Prime Minister Harper and Thomas Mulcair. Was this enough to crown him leader?
We now know the answer is, “Yes.”
Martha Hall Findlay; whom I marked with the first choice on my ballot demonstrated throughout this race what we have seen from her since she first ran for leader in 2006; a keen mind for policy and taking government in a direction that will make life simpler for Canadian. She has touted her ability to take on those ‘sacred cows’ of Canadian capital-L Liberalism. She wants to end the Party’s commitment to agricultural supply management, create a national child care program, and create a dedicated funding stream toward Canadian municipalities. These are promises that the other candidates have not made. More important, it is the most in depth analysis of current Liberal policy done by any of the six leadership candidates. If this race was only about policy, she would be a shoe-in. However, it seems many have taken to the idea of seeking that who will act as the silver bullet to Stephen Harper’s government in 2015. This is not the goal I have for the party, necessarily. I still have a goal for a direction in Canada that is greater than simply removing the current governing party.
With this in mind, my ballot ended up as follows:
1. Martha Hall Findlay
2. Justin Trudeau
3. Joyce Murray
4. Martin Cauchon
5. Deborah Coyne
6. Karen McCrimmon
I started out this race in George Takach’s corner. I chose not to follow him to Justin Trudeau’s campaign because I simply do not believe that M. Trudeau is ready to lead a national party, let alone a government. There is a degree to which I still believe this. But I also know a number of the people Trudeau has surrounded himself with. They are intelligent individuals with a mind for public policy. If they work hard, and I have no doubt they will, both Prime Minister Harper and M. Mulcair will be in for quite the fight come 2015.