A lot has been made about "star" candidates. Whenever the Conseratives attract a name, it tends to feed now established narratives, but when it comes to the Liberals or NDP, largely ignored, in terms of drawing wider conclusions. The NDP have attracted some talent for the next election, most noteably in Quebec, but that's hardly discussed, even though it does deserve consideration. On the Liberal front, I see a real disconnect between the "conventional wisdom" and the reality on the ground, because the party is attracting big names at a nice clip.
Lost in the Fantino bi-election, the Liberals had a "star" of their own in Winnipeg North and that's the ONLY reason they won this seat from the NDP. Why Lamoureux decided to run for the hapless federal Liberals never really addressed, but plenty of ink on the "coup" that was Julian Fantino.
In the past, there was a fair perspective put forward, namely that the Liberals were having a hard time attracting high profile candidates. That angle, part of the wider leadership discussion, poorly attended events, readiness and general ability to really confront the government. I would argue evidence now exists that demands a revision on that perspective.
You probably haven't connected the dots, because nobody had bothered just yet, but don't look now, the Ignatieff Liberals are attracting an impressive slate of candidates. That Ignatieff is bolstering the candidate ranks has meaning, because it defies this notion of a party playing pure DEFENCE, whilst the Conservatives attack from all sides. In the last month, the Liberals have added three more high profile candidates, two of which are decidedly offensive in nature. A quick review:
Peter Tinsley: Former chair of the Military Police Complaints Commission, who will run in Prince Edward-Hastings, a seat currently held by the Conservatives.
Peter Fonseca: High profile cabinet minister in McGuinty government jumps to federal Liberals.
Marie Bountrogianni: The former, well respected, provincial Minister will run in Hamilton, challenging a NDP held seat.
If one is being fair, I think Ignatieff's team deserves some credit, for at least showing the capacity to attract talented "names" into the fold. It contrasts with this idea of a party not ready to fight an election. In addition, it also shows these people see something worth jumping aboard. Again, this wasn't always the case in recent past, some acknowledgement is due.
Ignatieff tours the country gaffe free, he seems to draw mostly overflow crowds, he seems to be attracting names, he seems to have a tightening clear message. Let's wait and see, but this election preamble is far more encouraging than what I remember heading into the last election- these star additions coming in short order, further evidence.