Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Coyne (not that one) enters the race and a BCer (not me) comes close

With summer underway the Liberal  Party of Canada leadership race is starting to heat up (yes, I do feel horrible for writing that) with a few recent developments to report.

For one, a Coyne has declared (no, not Andrew). It's Deborah Coyne, who will have to remind the media that she does indeed have a first name, and isn't just "Justin Trudeau's half-sister's mother" as one media outlet akwardly put it this morning. Or just Andrew's cousin.

...she says she’s running because she believes Canadians are fed up with polarizing partisanship and that gives the Liberal party a golden opportunity to re-emerge from its current third-party status as the party of “bold, principled” national leadership on important public policy questions. 
“I’m in this to make sure it’s an ideas-based campaign. I believe I have a vision and a program that will resonate with many Canadians.” 
While the media will make much of the Trudeau family connection, particularly if Justin runs, Coyne is a very accomplished candidate with solid Liberal pedigree. She's a public policy and constitutional law expert and ran for the Liberals in Toronto-Danforth against Jack Layton in 2006. Some of her ideas merit consideration (she's pro-carbon tax) and she's anti-merger with the NDP. 

Glancing at her policy proposals I think her main issue right now is that which all Liberals wrestle with: taking big-picture theory and relating it to Canadians, who are more focused on pocket-book issues that impact their day-to-day lives. Anyway, she's a solid entry into the race.

Meanwhile, in the all but declared category is David Merner, who has been doing the exploratory thing and resigned yesterday as president of the federal party's BC wing to focus on his possible leadership run. Here's the letter he sent to members:
I am writing to let you know that I have decided to step down as President of the Liberal Party of Canada in British Columbia. Our Vice President, Brian Rice, will step in to the Presidency, as provided under our Constitution. 
 I've really enjoyed the opportunity to work with the riding Presidents, Caucus members, party staff, the BC Executive and the National Board. However, I am leaving the Presidency to focus on fund raising and other activities that are essential to participating in the Liberal leadership race as a candidate. 
Wherever I meet experienced Liberals across Canada, I hear "You guys in BC are amazing". That's true. We have outstanding leaders throughout BC. To name only a few members of our Executive, Brian Rice is recognized as a leader on riding development; Ray Larson is known as one of the Party's leading micro-targetting experts; and Mary Pynenburg and Ken Halliday are leading the national Women's Commission and national Seniors' Commission respectively. In sum, the LPCBC Executive is in great hands.
Under Brian's leadership and with a hugely talented membership that is 5,000 strong, I am positive that BC will continue to lead by example in rebuilding our Party. We are moving along the long, steep road to recovery from last year's defeat, thanks to the steps that party members and supporters are taking every day. I look forward to continuing on that journey together.

Merner's organizing has been out in the open for some time, and my understanding is that it was basically crap or get off the pot time as far as his continued role as LPCBC president while planning a leadership run. While I'm a transplanted BCer I've never met the fellow so I've no insight on him to share, although he did recently speak with fellow blogger Impolitical who shares some details today.

Another tire-kicker, former Ottawa-Orleans candidate David Betschi, as in Toronto for a pub last night. I'd planned to attend but was otherwise engaged. He's a lawyer who has also been doing the exploratory thing. One piece of advice: if your policy page is called "Where I Stand" a few more stands would be nice. 

CP reports another declared candidate I've never heard of:
Shane Geschiere, a 32-year-old Manitoba paramedic with no political experience, is the only other person so far to openly declare his intention to enter the race.
And Martha-Hall Findlay continues to gain profile with her stance on supply management (which Coyne appears to share). She really needs to pay off that 2006 debt though; I would have a problem with any candidates still carrying past leadership debt entering this one. (You can donate to her debt here if you're so inclined.)

The Star's Susan Delacourt had a pretty exhaustive list of possible candidates on the weekend.

I suspect we'll see the tire-kickers begin to fade away once the rules for the leadership race are set, probably this fall, particularly around the entry fee and spending cap. Personally, my preference is for an entry fee high enough to keep the field manageable and race serious, and a cap low enough that campaigns can do what they need to do without incurring heavy debt and sucking donations from the central party and riding associations. But more on that in another post.

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