Marc Garneau: The spaceman who fell to earth

With Garneau’s exit, the race goes to Trudeau — unofficially


(Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

Officially, there is still a month left in the Liberal leadership race. Unofficially, the race was declared finished this morning. For all intents and purposes, maybe it wasn’t ever a race.

Marc Garneau quit this morning, despite, in his estimation, running in second place. According to the poll numbers he read aloud to reporters, Justin Trudeau enjoys the support of 72% of Liberals. Mr. Garneau had the support of 15%. Joyce Murray was next with 7.4%, then Martha Hall Findlay with 5.2%. (The survey apparently didn’t include the other candidates.)

Of course, Mr. Trudeau could still lose. A month is a long time. Something could happen to imperil the Trudeau campaign. But the most realistic alternative is now out of the race and so the odds of Mr. Trudeau losing now become that much longer (so long that you now have to dream up a fairly crazy scenario to imagine anyone else winning).

Meanwhile, less than a third of the people who could vote for the Liberal leader have apparently registered to do so and the Trudeau campaign wants the rules changed to improve on that, but the Murray campaign is protesting the Trudeau campaign’s request. And David Bertschi is having to attempt to brush aside questions about exceeding the limits on financial contributions to his own campaign.

This was always a bit of an odd race. Six of the nine candidates (Mr. Bertschi, Martin Cauchon, George Takach, Karen McCrimmon, Deborah Coyne and Martha Hall Findlay) did not currently hold elected office. Four of those candidates (Mr. Bertschi, Ms. Coyne, Mr. Takach and Ms. McCrimmon) had never held elected office. Mr. Cauchon was a former cabinet minister, but he’d also just been trounced by Thomas Mulcair in Outremont in the 2011 election. Given the Liberal party’s fallen state, it is perhaps not all that strange that the race to lead it was not quite a hotly contested clash of obviously qualified political titans. With the benefit of hindsight and omnipotent power, it is possible to construct an imaginary race that includes, say, Bob Rae, John Manley and Scott Brison. (At the very least, in hindsight, someone other than Mr. Rae probably should’ve served as interim leader.) As it is, the Liberals got a race that was top heavy and offered only narrow paths to victory for all of the non-Trudeau contenders, with only Mr. Garneau making a concerted attempt to make a real competition of it. And that race now seems to be coming to a decidedly unexciting (perhaps even clumsy) finish.

Which is not all bad for the Liberal party. Depending on what comes next, it might not ever be said to have mattered how the Liberals ended up with Justin Trudeau as their leader. And even if the race had been better contested and included any or all of the fantasy candidates, on the available evidence, Mr. Trudeau was and is the best bet: a young, exciting leader with talent and fame. If he was an American college basketball player and the Liberal leadership race was the NBA draft, analysts would be gushing about his “tremendous upside.” There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll pan out, but he is perhaps precisely the sort of leader a struggling party should be gambling on—especially if it might take two elections to get that party back within range of governing.

The Trudeau campaign should probably also thank Mr. Garneau—not for the support he offered Mr. Trudeau today, but for the criticism he levelled at Mr. Trudeau these last few weeks. Those attacks are but a hint of what Mr. Trudeau is about to face these next two years. Within the next few months, Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals will probably move ahead of the Conservatives into first place in public polling. In doing so, Mr. Trudeau will become the fourth opposition leader to enjoy such an advantage over Stephen Harper. But Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff never became prime minister and Mr. Harper and Thomas Mulcair are unlikely to quit the race for 2015. If the Liberal leadership race is ending on an anti-climactic note, it should perhaps reinforce the point that the real contest begins, officially, on April 15.


Marc Garneau: The spaceman who fell to earth

  1. Good to know that the opposition parties don’t feel the need to elect a leader with actual policies.

    Just speaks wonders about the state of the opposition parties. One goes on treasonous trips around the world saying not to do business with us, and the other (soon-to-be) hasn’t done anything at all.

    • “Treasonous trips!”

      Love the onomatopoeia. Let’s play some more. Tell me which traitor said this:

      “Whether Canada ends up as one national
      government or two national governments or several national governments,
      or some other kind of arrangement is, quite frankly, secondary in my
      opinion… And whether Canada ends up with one national government or two
      governments or ten governments, the Canadian people will require less
      government no matter what the constitutional status or arrangement of
      any future country may be.”

      • That doesn’t count apparently… It’s self evident or something or other Conservatives like to file under…free speech.

      • To be perfectly honest with you I don’t know. Would you be so kind as to enlighten not only me, but the rest of us as well, as to who did utter that statement. Wer’e pretty much all in the dark on that one.

        • A famous remark by Harper.

          • I actually knew that. I was just being facetious. It’s something I do from time to time.

      • While Stephen Harper is most certainly 50lbs of BS in a 5lb sac, ‘treasonous trips’ is not onomatopoeia.

        • my apologies, alliteration, but it does roll off the tongue and sound ominous. Half a point for spelling?

      • While “treasonous trips” is alliterative, I’m not sure it serves as an example of onomatopoeia. As I understand the definition, words that sound like what they describe qualify. ‘Punt’ a football, for instance, or door hinges that ‘creak’, leaves that ‘rustle’, etc.

  2. “There’s no way of knowing whether he’ll pan out” Good point, he really could be the next Laurier. I could plausibly see him winning 3 straight elections.

    Just kidding. Some things are screamingly obvious. Trudeau is an awful pick as Liberal leader and is 100% certain to fail.

    • Nothing’s as much fun as watching an over confident Harperite guarantee something 100%…how’s your keystone stock doing?

  3. I heard a political commentator on the radio (sorry, I didn’t catch the name) noting that when Trudeau’s camp signalled to Bob Rae’s camp that Trudeau would be running, Rae put aside any ideas he had of running himself. Not sure who the source is for the information, but it makes sense. Rae has had two shots where the prize was in his sights, only to be thwarted in the end. I don’t think he would make the attempt again, knowing that he couldn’t beat Trudeau. I think Wherry is asserting that he shouldn’t have been interim leader so that he could have been in this race. As things turned out, he probably wouldn’t have been in the race anyway.

  4. Nice to see the Con Trolls are doing the job they are paid to do

    • Yes, every single comment on a Canadian internet comment board that is not pro-Liberal is posted by shadowy paid staffers from the PMO. Every single comment on a Canadian internet comment board that is pro-Liberal is posted in utter good faith by concerned ordinary Canadians with no ties whatsoever to any political party.
      I’m not making this up.

      • We know.

        • You think you know. That’s the really pathetic part.

          • Some people actually DO know. Former members.

          • OrsonBean, Exhibit A.

          • I think he’s a current member….he certainly talks like one.

            I’m a former member.

            Writing form letters to the editor was a big group effort back then, and the beginnings of the web forum ‘talking points’…everybody always says the same thing.

          • You call me Conservative, yet two posts below this I’m implying I wish Justin well. Mmhmm.

          • We were talking about Bean….who also claims to be Liberal when it suits his purposes

          • … I wasn’t talking about Bean.

          • ‘OrsonBean, Exhibit A.’

          • Yeah, I’m going to let you think a bit on who I was referring to…

          • Flash……I don’t care.

      • I’m letting that one go, I actually agree with that sentiment.

  5. When Obama ran he was about 4 years older than Justin. He had little background and Clinton tried to earn points on that. In the end, the rest of the Democrats rallied to support Obama. The 2015 election is a party race not an idol race, and in the end, the most idolized person will win the race for their party.

  6. “Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals will probably move ahead of the Conservatives into first place in public polling”

  7. “Mr. Trudeau was and is the best bet: a young, exciting leader with talent and fame.”

    So his best traits are:

    1) His age inexperience.

    2) He’s exciting, yet he’s provided absolutely nothing to get excited about. This seems to be more of a situation where he excites the media, and the media then assume that everybody gets excited by Trudeau. This sounds a lot like the thrill up Chris Matthews’ leg.

    3) His “talent”? His talent for what? Giving speeches for $20k? Or the “talent” to win a leadership race that was predetermined from the get-go?

    4) His Fame last name.

    This guy will lead the LPC into oblivion.

  8. The libs made a big error in not getting Rae into the race. But the again who else would have held the fort as well as he in the interim?

    I wonder if that survey MG was citing wasn’t the one that’s got a few people upset over @liberal.ca right now. Apparently it came in the form of a robo call and may not have been sufficiently acknowledged as coming from Garneau? People are touchy about that these days.

  9. Mr Wherry, please don’t ever mention the words “Trudeau” and “NBA draft” again, as I’m suddenly afraid the Liberals just picked the political equivalent of Darko Milicic.

  10. I say again…..elections have nothing to do with ability, talent, intelligence or policies. They are popularity contests.

  11. Mr. Sinclair oops Trudeau will lead the liberals to a resounding, once again, defeat. Academics and those who swoon at the very sound of the name “Justin Sinclair oops Trudeau” aside, Canadians vote for those with a platform that makes some sort of sense. Mr. Sinclair oops Trudeau has yet to make much sense. Swoon inducements aside (Oooo! he’s so CUTE!!). As a people we’re smarter than that, and more fickle. Solid lefties will vote for Thomas MuchHair and his gang. Righties are all set with Harper. The “swooning class” and the academics, at least those who don’t have a clue (most of them) about the real world, will vote Liberal. I’ll be surprised if they maintain their status as a party. And fageddaboudit in BC, for example, where the very word “Liberal” creates a backlash – Harper will do well here, MuchHair OK, Sinclair oops Trudeau, well, not so much.

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