Running for the Liberal leadership? - Macleans.ca

Running for the Liberal leadership?

So many people are gunning for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them

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Photo illustration by Taylor Shute

Have you heard who’s running for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada? Pretty much everybody. So many big names! Justin Trudeau is running. That Martha Something Something person is running. Plus, there are two (2) completely different guys named David and a dude who’s driving across the country in a van—because nothing says political momentum like: van.

In fact, so many people are running for the Liberal leadership that it’s quite possible you’re one of them. Here’s a quick way to check: have you heard of you? If you or anyone else has heard of you, then you’re probably not running.

Jonathan Mousley is running. I was not previously aware of Mousley but, weirdly, this has not stopped him from existing. On Remembrance Day, as part of his campaign, he tweeted that Canadians should “press [the Harper government] to provide financially strapped veterans with a decent and dignified burial.” A solid policy, sure, but not exactly a mood-brightener for veterans.

War hero: Young man, do you have any policies for people like me?

Jonathan Mousley: [Holds up a shovel.]

You can tell the candidates are serious because they’ve each got a website and a Facebook account. They don’t give those to just anyone. Some even have a slogan. Jonathan Mousley’s is “Together, we can do great things.” This way, no one will confuse Mousley with the candidates who are encouraging Canadians to do lousy things individually.

I’ve explored the websites of the many, many (many) contenders. Some feel Canada is at a crossroads, while others believe it’s at a turning point or an important juncture. So they’ll need to sort that out. Most candidates seem to agree Canada needs a new approach to politics. I think that’s the fourth one this decade: we’re burning through approaches to politics faster than the Romney campaign burned through different Mitt Romneys.

As of this writing, Marc Garneau is rumoured to be poised to be prepared to consider entering the race probably. He’d bring an important perspective: only someone who’s looked down on earth from outer space can truly comprehend how far away the Liberals are from regaining power.

Martha Hall Findlay is running again. In her launch speech, she reminded us that she is—not that she’s bragging—breathtakingly intelligent. She mentioned the word “smart” seven times and pointed out—again, not that she’s bragging—that she finished high school at 15. “Some say, ‘Wow, she’s smart,’ ” she not-bragged, not-braggingly. “Well, yes, I am.”

Doubters who visit Findlay’s website are presented with definitive evidence of her intelligence: a photo in which she’s holding a pair of glasses, the exclusive prop of the supergenius. But alack! The website of another contender—David Bertschi (yes, that David Bertschi: the one I’ve never heard of either)—also features a photo of the candidate holding glasses. Stalemate.

The best part of the contest so far has been watching the lesser-known candidates attempt to downplay Trudeau’s status as the front-runner. Oh, sure, if you want a guy with charisma, a national profile and by far the best chance of winning, then Trudeau’s your man. But if you want a candidate with the courage to travel this land while remaining unrecognizable to everyone who isn’t a blood relative . . .

Asked about competing with Trudeau, Alex Burton—who is a candidate named Alex Burton (sorry, I don’t know one other thing about him)—said: “I have a strategy: we’re not going to be distracted by other candidates.” As strategies go, this would rank up there with Indiana Jones shrugging: “I am not going to be distracted by this huge runaway boulder.”

And yet Trudeau has vulnerabilities. He made a gaffe recently when a student journalist asked (and this is for real), “Would you rather fight one horse-size duck or 100 duck-size horses?” Justin’s reply: “Oh, definitely the 100 duck-size horses.”

Martha Hall Findlay—not that she’d be bragging—wouldn’t make that mistake. A horse-size duck would be slow, awkward and hilarious on YouTube. Horses are fast, fearless and some of the ones in the Olympics could dance. You do not want to mess with that kind of know-how. Surely the Conservatives are already preparing their attack ads: “Justin Trudeau: wrong on duck-size horses. Wrong for Canada.”