Let the Liberal blood sport begin - Macleans.ca

Let the Liberal blood sport begin

Scott Feschuk on what it will take to win in a crowded field of would-be leaders


photo illustration by taylor shute

The Liberal leadership race is really heating up. First, David Bertschi tweeted, “I had a nice day in North Bay.” Then Martha Hall Findlay tweeted, “Just had a terrific meeting in Edmonton.” Truly, this contest is turning into a blood sport.

For those who’ve lost track, there are now 3,200 people running to be leader of the Liberal party: Justin Trudeau, Deborah Coyne, the three people sitting with you right now in the dentist’s waiting room, the Professor, Mary Ann—the list keeps growing. The field is so crowded that the party has pretty much no choice but to hold its policy debates on one of those conveyor belts they have in some sushi restaurants. Ms. Findlay, you have 20 seconds to answer this question before you disappear into the kitchen for half an hour.

The significant interest in the job of leader sounds a positive note for the future of the party. In news that doesn’t do that, interim leader Bob Rae sent out an email this week basically begging Liberal supporters to donate $5. That’s right—five whole dollars. Not interested? Bob is willing to sweeten the deal. Hand over the five-spot and in return you’ll get . . . a copy of his holiday card! Just contact the Liberal party and ask to contribute to Canada’s Saddest Fundraising Campaign.

But back to the leadership. In a crowded field, the challenge is finding a way to stand out. Karen McCrimmon has an interesting background—the first woman to command a Canadian air force squadron—and a unique take on why Canadians have traditionally resisted political extremism. “Maybe,” she said, “it is because we routinely face the extremes of weather, of distance and of geography.” I’m not sure I follow: we aren’t fascists because the meetings are far away and it’s cold out?

Also new on the scene is George Takach, a candidate that has been described by many Liberals as: “Who?” Turns out Takach is a lawyer and self-professed computer geek who views technology as the key to democratic reform.

“Imagine,” Takach said, “if on every [piece of legislation] you had a meaningful, Wikipedia kind of discussion going on . . . ” Okay, let’s imagine that. Let’s imagine thousands of the reasonable, well-informed people we find on the Internet taking the time to advance the kind of detailed, well-supported positions we often see on comment boards. Just imagine how House of Commons bills could be improved by the inclusion of clauses like, “Harper sux eggs!” and “Get Viagra here cheap!”

Like several other candidates for the leadership, Takach has never been elected to political office—but he insists that’s not a drawback. And hey, why would it be? People of Canada, I don’t understand “government.” I have no experience in any realm of elected public policy. I’m almost positive this “Governor General” I hear so much about is one of the characters from the board game Clue. But please vote for me to be your Premium Minister—or whatever it’s called.

Meanwhile, Justin Trudeau is still trying to recover from his 2010 remark about how powerful people from Alberta are ruining Canada with their general, all-round Albertaness. Justin’s strategy for making amends to Albertans apparently hinges on saying positive things about guns. He criticized the federal long-gun registry as a “failure”—even though he voted to save it. And he spoke about his fond memory of hiking through Greenland with a rifle as protection from polar bears. We’re at most a few days away from him holding a press conference to rate his favourite Rambo movies, one through four.

You probably read that Marc Garneau recently joined the race. But did you know that Garneau was, at one point in his career, an astronaut? I bring this up in case you hadn’t noticed him repeatedly mentioning that he was an astronaut. Or heard him make that “rocket science” joke he makes. Or discovered that the slogan for his campaign is: “Let’s take Canada to new heights.” Get it? Heights? Because: astronaut!

Competing with a candidate who was an astronaut (Marc Garneau—hadn’t you heard?) may sound overwhelming, but Vancouver MP Joyce Murray has him beat. In kicking off her campaign, Murray casually mentioned, “I am someone who sees the future and seizes it.” Got that? She doesn’t just predict the future. She doesn’t guesstimate it. She actually sees the future.

Your move, spaceman.

Follow Scott Feschuk on Twitter @scottfeschuk


Let the Liberal blood sport begin

  1. Love the column. Its all true. There are candidates in this so called race that have no experience in leading anything. Yet this once great party is suppose to take these people serious. No wonder they are hanging onto Trudeau. Its all they got and that is not saying much.

    • Trudeau also has no experience leading anything.

      • Harper had no experience leading anything. Just look where no experience can get you these days.

      • My question? How do you begin too get experience period if you do not start something;case in point we all MUST begin @ point one,LOL

    • Loved this column it’s all true…It is funny ,yet you were strangely absent whenever SF wrote funnies about Cons.

      • Criticism of the Conservatives happens so frequently I simply am immune to it. However, when I see the media criticize their beloved Liberal party it puts joy in my heart and gives me hope that maybe just maybe the media will call the Liberals out on their hypocrisy.

        • You seriously see this as criticism! It’s just poking fun at as yet not very inspiring race.

        • “call the Liberals out on their hypocrisy”. Is that printed on all the Tim Horton’s signs or something? It sure gets repeated CONSTANTLY.

    • All Harper had experience in was Canadian Taxpayer’s Coalition, or whatever rightwing organization it is — and working in his Daddy’s friends’ mailroom in Calgary. Oh, and the Alliance church, leading Evangelicals.

    • The column is mostly true. (Hah! Got the greeting card and DIDN’T INCREASE MY MONTHLY GIVING BY $5! Sweet deal ME!) However, your comment is not. You’ve all surely noticed how we have an astronaut (missed it? Garneau), but apparently overlooked George Taka. . . er. . .ch. For the love of an i, how close we came to someone who actually went where no man has gone before!

      • I will acknowledge that Garneau has some cred but you and I both know the fix is in. It will be the pretty boy who has no substance at all. The rest of the no names including Taka…have no chance and are simply window dressing trying to pretend there is a real leadership race going on. How ironic that Trudeau is running against his father’s former mistress who is the mother of his love child. You gotta love it.

        • Keep thinking that hollinm. Trudeau will blow you out of the water while you are still talking about how his hair is the only good thing coming out of his head. There is no fix. There is, however, a lot of people in the Liberal party who are a bit transfixed by him. Not me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t see what a hell of a campaign he’s running. See, he’s used to the media spotlight and more than that, he knows how to turn the media spotlight back on him when they begin to drift away. He is absolutely brilliant–but still not my choice. I do get a kick out of that kind of irony of Trudeau and Coyne at one point being the only two in the race, but in my opinion Coyne’s only role was to force Trudeau INTO the race. Plainly, he couldn’t allow that woman a chance to win it. And now that I’ve seen her speak personally, I thank him for that.

          • I totally aggree Trudeau is the one. He will be the winner.

  2. ‘Harper sux eggs!’ I’ll have to remember that one!

  3. Awesome as usual, Mr. Feschuk! :) Also as usual, all painfully true!

  4. Great column, from former jet pilot to former astronaut to presently leading matine idol. Seriously, I have read that Justin Trudeau made the transition to MP by doing all the little constituency level political jobs, showing up at local every gathering, meeting all the community players, etc. If he crossed that barrier, he may yet make the jump to federal leadership, albeit with a bit of explaining and catch-up yet to do.

  5. Justin’s got this.

    • I agree. A lot smarter than your average Harpercon.

      • Considering how dim the son of Trudeau appears to be, that doesn’t say much for the Conservatives

      • Don’t agree with that at all. The CPC has been darned smart about how they’ve gone about things since 2003.

        But Trudeau is clearly head and shoulders above the other contenders in the Liberal race. So far.

  6. Harper was an oil executive. What the hell did he lead? A business that automatically makes money hand over fist? Pff. Talk all you want, when push comes to shove, the CPC is trying Canadians’ patience.

    • LMFAO !! Harper was a mail-room clerk at Imperial Oil, little bit of a stretch to call him an executive. No he was a lobbyist, and a failed economist. Never actually had a real world job.

    • He was never an executive!! He got a schmoozy Masters in Economics from UofC with his mentor Tom Flanagan. He was groomed by the likes of Preston Manning and all the Calgary Downtown Core oil and gas guys, starting in the 80s. They’re still taking care of him, or trying to.

      • Hmmn. Gives you a glimmer re what kind of Albertans Trudeau and McGuinty had the colossal gall (unlike our media) to mention. Out loud, yet.

  7. Harper sux eggs!

  8. Is Feshuk hoping for a Senate appointment or something? What an empty column. Worthy of the Sun, or NP. And FYI, the $5 donation drive is going to be pretty effective. The Liberal Party’s inability to update their fundraising technique is the single biggest reason they are now the third place Party. Rubber chicken dinners used to be pretty slick when you could hit up a few of the attendees for $50,000. That world disappeared 10 years ago now, and yet the Liberals persisted in the mistaken idea that EVENTS are the be-all and end-all of fundraising. From what I have seen, this year they are starting to professionalise by building an actual national database of members, supporters, donors, etc. They will get a lot of donors on board with those $5 asks. (based on what I saw on their website just now over 600 in a week) From past experience I can tell you that once a donor starts giving, it is EASY to habituate them to it. Just ask your Conservative buddies, they have been building lists like thsi for more than 10 years. By the time the next Federal election comes due, the Liberals will be raising on average somewhere around $100 per year from the typical newbie donating $5 for the first time this year. And FYI, CTV already gets all the Senate seats, and advertising payoffs so do not hold your breath looking for your reward Feschuk.

    • I just received a copy of an email from the same campaign. It seems that the Liberals got another 120 donors since last night. Here is an excerpt from the fundraising email from Stephan Dione:

      “In this campaign it doesn’t matter how much you give, just that you give. That’s why I’m personally thrilled that 719 Liberals just like you including 326 who gave for the first time — have each chipped in an average of $47.71.”

      Too bad Macleans could not generate that kind of revenue from your scribblings. Maybe they would have a chance of surviving.

  9. So this column does what excatly? Advance Fascist Harper agenda? Why is it that I hardly ever see such critical columns writen about Harper and his Reform Party?

    • Because you’re not very attentive?

      • Out by at least a decade or more.

    • It’s just teasing. Great coverage for Justin though! There is no such thing as bad press, really.

  10. What is this drivel???

  11. . “Maybe,” she said, “it is because we routinely face the extremes of
    weather, of distance and of geography.” I’m not sure I follow: we aren’t
    fascists because the meetings are far away and it’s cold out?

    LOL…Yes Feschuk, [well almost] you got . It’s because we can never get to the putsch on time. Now if we only has a rapid transit, intercontinental, trans oceanic way to get to the scene of the action…then you’d see us shine. Apperation! That ought to do it! Canada on time for the riot this time baby!

    There’s a rumour that Harper may be able to apperate to the scene of the evil doers very soon; there’s a further rumour he’s working on a time machine to go back and put a NOT right in the middle of the charter.[ i take no responsibility for allowing you to expand on these rumours]

  12. This is an awful topic Feschuk. Look what you’ve done – attract liberals[ or non Cons] who seem to have no sense of humour..You’ve embarassed the party….how could you?

  13. Think Murray took that line from a speech you wrote sometime, Scott

  14. Most people in the race have had lots of experience leading(Canadian Space Agency, business, etc) or at least worked in relevant fields to public policy. Political experience or not, they’re all quite incredible individuals. Certainly no worse, and probably better, than most other leadership races(Harper ran a lobbying group; Layton was a city councillor).

    • They really are an impressive bunch, each with her or his own qualities and wealth of experience. Except for one in my view.

  15. “Not interested? Bob is willing to sweeten the deal. Hand over the
    five-spot and in return you’ll get . . . a copy of his holiday card!
    Just contact the Liberal party and ask to contribute to Canada’s Saddest
    Fundraising Campaign.”

    Get over yourself Scott. I plan to donate a twenty…that should give me at least 5…4 cards …
    I plan to send mine all to Coyne; to cheer him up, and get him off this weird kick he’s on to start yet another centrist party. I mean, what more do you want than a card from from Bob to inspire donors and a comeback party?

    • Andrew, not Deborah, right? Extremely unimpressed with her, and she is the only candidate I can say that about.

  16. Good stuff – now at least I know who’s running before I send them money.

  17. How DARE you make satire!

  18. Gotta love the grassy roots of the Libs. They know how to get a sympathy vote going with a $5 entry fee. It’s like the street waif asking for “just a quarter?” to get the best heart shot at the target. If they get back into power, $5 will look like a thousand to those of us who remember what they are always ready and willing to do to the working stiffs from the west. But, always remember, if they were to convince Quebec and Ontario that they alone could wrestle the wealth of Western Can from the ‘Huns’ who now own it, they would be elected with a majority in a heartbeat. Singing O? Canada!!! Run chicken run!!!

  19. First of all – if ‘mommy’s boy’ would get a haircut. Then learn something about Canada –
    in about 20 years from now he might make an average MP – but Liberal leader? NO!!!
    All he has is the name of an arrogant egotistical former playboy PM. What did Pierre
    have to qualify as PM of Canada? The little-one is not leadership material.

    • Say what.You are going to eat your word when mommy’s Boy win

  20. Hey Feschuk,you being payed byHarper & his cronies ? LMAO !

    • Yep. I’m a renowned Conservative enthusiast. Everyone knows this.

  21. Harper & his so called party is ruining this great nation,2015 LIBERAL majority !!!