- ITS ABOUT BLOODY TIME THE WELL QUALIFIED SPACE MAN CHALLENGED THE UNQUALLIFIED SPACE CADET.
Kelly McParland: Marc Garneau challenges Justin Trudeau to take a stand. Any stand.
| Feb 14, 2013 1:27 PM ET
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian WyldLiberal leadership candidate Marc Garneau
In The Bourne Identity
, the first of the films on the Robert Ludlum novels, Matt Damon as Jason Bourne is hauled from the sea and dumped onto the deck by a group of fishermen who assume he’s dead. Then his arm moves and they leap back: It’s alive!
Something similar has happened to the Liberal leadership race. Two debates into the contest, and with just two months to go before the choice is made, Mark Garneau has openly criticized Justin Trudeau, the perceived frontrunner.
“Federal Liberal Leadership frontrunner Justin Trudeau has a responsibility to tell Canadians where he stands and where he intends to lead now, not after the leadership race is over,” Garneau says in a press release headed “Garneau calls on Trudeau to take a stand.”
As Liberals, we cannot wait until after the leadership race is over to find out what we signed up for,” Garneau said in a prepared statement (external - login to view). “That is like asking Canadians to buy a new car without first test-driving it.”
It takes a shot at Trudeau’s fundraising talents
, thanking him “for his contribution to the party’s coffers”, but suggests that leadership is about more than raising money.
“Garneau said he has made his leadership vision clear and has outlined his plan on the knowledge economy, trade, telecommunications, Western Canada, electoral reform, and student debt and youth employment. He added he will continue to do so for the duration of the campaign.
“This is not the case with Justin. He has told Canadians that we need a “bold” plan and a “clear vision” without defining either. On Justin’s two clear priorities, the middle class and youth engagement, he has said nothing,” said Garneau. “Therein lies the fundamental difference between Justin Trudeau and myself.”
And in an apparent reference to the party’s failed experiment with Michael Ignatieff, he adds:
“Too often in the recent past we have put our faith as a party in one individual without asking the tough questions: Where do we stand? What is our vision for Canada?” he said. “Now is the time to get it right. In this race, we must know what it is we’re voting for, not just who we’re voting for.”
Well, them’s fighting words, and not a moment too soon. The next debate among the nine candidates is to take place on Saturday in Mississauga, and if someone doesn’t bring some excitement to the competition it’s in danger of keeling over dead from sheer tedium. The lowest point had to be the recent “debate” in Winnipeg, which consisted of contestants being individually interviewed by a failed candidate from Calgary. There’s still an excellent chance the party will manage to blow this opportunity as well, as current plans (external - login to view)
call for a series of one-on-one exchanges that will feature David Bertschi challenging George Takach, Joyce Murray questionig Martin Cauchon, and Karen McCrimmon versus Deborah Coyne. Don’t stand in the exits folks, you might get trampelled.
Should Liberals expect their leader to come equipped with firm policy ideas, or just go with whoever they figure will most easily attract votes?
Still, Garneau has made clear Trudeau should no longer expect the “hands off Justin
” treatment he’s enjoyed until now. And his point goes to a fundamental issue: Should the party expect its leader to come equipped with firm policy ideas, or just go with whoever they figure will most easily attract votes?
‘I’m not middle class. I don’t pretend I am’: Justin Trudeau discloses $1.2M inheritance
Liberal leadership front-runner Justin Trudeau has provided a rare disclosure of his personal finances to quell speculation about his family’s wealth and head off concerns over potential conflicts of interest.
At the request of the Ottawa Citizen, Trudeau’s campaign staff produced a valuation of the company that manages the money he inherited from his father and gave a full list of his paid speaking events in the years before he announced his run for the leadership.
The documents show that while Trudeau’s inheritance is now worth about $1.2-million, he also built up a public-speaking business that earned him more than $450,000 in its best year.
Should he become Liberal leader Trudeau says he will set a new ethical standard by moving the stocks and bonds he inherited into a blind trust, a requirement that is currently in place for cabinet ministers but not for most MPs.
Garneau is a policy guy. Most recently he pledged an overhaul of student loan programs so graduates would only begin repaying once they’d found a job paying at least $40,000 a year. He’s also urged Canada’s wireless market be open to foreign competitors and proposed an infrastructure investment program to “re-orient” Canada’s economy towards Asian trade.
Trudeau has made an attribute out of being vague. Acknowledging that his lack of specific policies is “frustrating both media pundits and a lot of others,” he counters
that “leadership is the beginning of a platform-development process, not the end of it.”
The party, he says, “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,’ ” he said.
He has a point, as does Garneau. Desperate to regain their lost lustre, Liberals have made a habit of entrusting the party to anyone they thought mind be able to leverage them back into power, whatever the means. But does that mean you pick an empty vessel and fill it with whatever positions are temporarily popular with voters?
Trudeau’s argument would have more bite if it emanated from someone of wide experience, with a solid background of accomplishment and a history of good judgment, rather than someone best known for his last name, whose biggest income
(as he revealed Wednesday) comes from a trust fund and public speaking? Trudeau can point to the Ignatieff experiment and argue that Michael Ignatieff had a solid, impressive background, yet proved a bust. Which is true, except that Ignatieff imploded precisely because he didn’t seem to have any idea what the party believed in, and was constantly staging bus trips, public meetings and campus get-togethers in search of an answer.
It’s a debate worth having, and might even generate a bit of interest in the public. But only if the Liberals find a way to ditch the also-ran candidates and let the serious contenders go at it head to head.