It has been ten years since Prime Minister Jean Chretien announced he was stepping down and the Liberals are about to start the race for someone they hope will finally fill his shoes – after Paul Martin, Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff failed to do it.
Chretien led the Liberals to majority governments in 1993, 1997 and 2000. When he stepped aside following pressure from Martin and his supporters, the Liberals became a minority government in 2004 and then lost power to the Conservatives in 2006. Dion replaced Martin in 2006 and led the Liberals to their worst result in Canadian history in 2008 – before Ignatieff set a new record in 2011. The Liberals have developed, as the Star’s Susan Delacourt aptly put it, “disposable leader syndrome.”
Now they need to decide who gets the next chance at bat.
Interim Leader Bob Rae has officially declared he’s out of the race, and while Marc Garneau, Justin Trudeau and Martha Hall-Findlay think about it, Deborah Coyne remains the only official option for Liberal voters.
The same Coyne who told The Hill Times this week that the Liberal Party “doesn’t stand for anything.” She explained that the party needs to look back to its roots while reaching forward for new ideas.
Hall-Findlay has not been shy about stirring up controversy, publishing a paper on supply management that encouraged quite a bit of debate among politicians and pundits alike.
Garneau, meanwhile, has not been shy about voicing his opinion in the Quebec election, something Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have been avoiding and the New Democrats have said they would avoid (though it must be noted that leader Thomas Mulcair announced during this campaign that the NDP will form a Quebec party before the next one).
On August 23, another contender popped up online – or the potential of another contender – at liberalwho.ca.
The website has a countdown to launch, a photo of a man without a face and scrolling quotes, in both official language, about what the Liberal Party needs to be. There has been some guessing among the Parliamentary Press Gallery about the site, and who would choose to launch such a campaign on Labour Day.
The new Liberal leader is scheduled to be elected in April of 2013, and the party’s board has until November 27, 2012 to lay out the official rules for the leadership race, which means the deadline to declare yourself a candidate will come some weeks after that day.
Photo Credit: Michael Ignatieff