In this column (The Liberals can’t afford a cakewalk), Marni Soupcoff of the Post advises the Liberal Party to bring out the crash cart and zap Canada’s best known (former) astronaut, Marc Garneau, in to the leadership campaign.
I don’t disagree with the premise, but the cakewalk began last week when Dominic Leblanc announced that he would not be running for the federal Liberal leadership and was backing his childhood pal, Justin. With all due respect to Hall Findlay, Garneau and also to Soupcoff, it was Leblanc’s reluctance that will likely see Justin crowned in a pretend race. That’s when the cakewalk began.
Leblanc may not be capable of defeating Justin if we account for name recognition and all that important stuff. But he remains the best alternative –or the best sparring mate, if you embrace the coronation certainty. Leblanc is young-ish, well groomed, perfectly bilingual, a good debater, a gregarious Maritimer with a solid Liberal pedigree (some of which includes family connections to the Trudeaus going back more than four decades).
Leblanc is an experienced parliamentarian with a good command of law and policy. His committee service is wide: International Trade, Special Committee on Non-Medical Use of Drugs, National Defence and Veterans Affairs, The Standing Committees on Fisheries and Oceans, Procedures and House Affairs, Transport and Government Operations, and Public Accounts, Justice and Human Rights and Foreign Affairs. The last two are bound to have taught him that there are barbaric practices around the world.
Leblanc, who is Harvard educated, is among the brightest elected officials of his generation. He is married to Jolene Richard, a New Brunswick provincial court judge. Dominic Leblanc is very well liked. His congenial character has earned him the respect of people in all parties, even among the bluest of the government ministers. All of these indicate some degree of gravitas.
Justin will likely make Garneau look old and even more wooden than he already appears. He stands no chance against the young Trudeau. But the one to challenge Justin for real: on youth, likeability, substance, and at almost every level but the pedigree and the lack of Twitter account would have been Leblanc. Alas, where Justin should have persuaded Dominic to run and to stay in the race against him, Trudeau encouraged him not to run.
The bottom line, Justin is being deprived (or depriving himself) of a contest, and it will cost him and will cost the party. Politics is a game of experience more than one of intellectual wit. The more formidable his co-religious opponents, the more Justin and his team as well as the party itself will learn and practise process, policy and tactics when facing the better experienced prime minister and leader of the opposition.