Andrew Coyne gets in the first “who the heck is that” survey of the field of candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada:
With nominations now closed for the Liberal leadership, let me be the first to cackle smugly at the cast of non-entities that have put their names forward. George Ta-who? Karen McWha? Hee hee. Ha ha. Hoo hoo.
Actually, the nine candidates (assuming Martin Cauchon’s last-minute application made it under the wire) make an impressive bunch, all in all. If several are lacking in political experience or name recognition, that should not detract from their many personal and professional accomplishments.
George Takach is a prominent Bay Street lawyer and professor with three degrees and four books under his belt. Karen McCrimmon was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Canadian Forces and the first woman to lead an RCAF squadron. David Bertschi was a Crown prosecutor and founding partner in his Ottawa law practice. Deborah Coyne (yes, my cousin) holds degrees from York and Oxford, taught constitutional law and was a central figure in the battles over the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.
And so on. Martha Hall Findlay founded her own legal and management consultancy, and was a candidate for party leader in 2006. Joyce Murray was a minister in the B.C. government and is the owner-operator, with her husband, of a company with more than 500 employees. Cauchon was minister of justice in the Chrétien government. Marc Garneau was Canada’s first man in space.
[. . .]
But isn’t the debate over before it has begun? Hasn’t Trudeau got this whole thing locked up? With four times the support of his nearest rival (Garneau) in the polls, a massive fundraising advantage, and more endorsements of note than all of the other candidates put together, the dauphin would indeed appear the prohibitive favourite: confirmation that the monarchical principle is alive and well in Canadian politics.
But there are three months to go, and several reasons to hold off on the coronation just yet. First, there is Trudeau’s own tendency to get himself into trouble, on show of late in the matters of the gun registry and the influence of Albertans in federal politics. The five debates will offer the other candidates further opportunities to rattle him, in hopes a brick or two again falls from his mouth.