Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I don't quite understand the Marc Garneau Liberal saga. Earlier today, a story on Garneau seeking the Liberal banner in Westmount-Ville Marie:
Some potential star candidates, like astronaut Marc Garneau, aren't taking any chances and already have begun to campaign discreetly.

A website for Garneau was registered last week in the wake of the Outremont debacle, joining a campaign page on the social networking site Facebook that has been in place for some time.

His organizers appear to be getting impatient, saying Garneau will probably close the door on the Liberal Party if he doesn't get the Westmount-Ville Marie nomination.

"Personally, I would counsel him against (another riding), particularly with the situation the way it is," said Fabrice Rivault, a former Liberal Party communications official who is helping to organize for Garneau.

"Mr. Garneau cannot allow himself to put his name on the chopping block again. He is already very courageous to have done it once."

"We're preparing," he said, adding that Garneau has support among Liberals.

Rivault said Garneau is a well-known national hero who can help the Liberal Party increase its support in Quebec.

Apparently, Garneau has been advised that he will not be the candidate in Westmount-Ville Marie:
Faced with ambivalence on the part of the Liberal party and the need to support his family, former Canadian astronaut Marc Garneau said Tuesday he has closed the door on the idea of seeking the Liberal nomination in Westmount-Ville Marie or any other riding.

The news came as a surprise to a group of Liberals who had been discreetly organizing and setting up a campaign website for him, who believed up until Tuesday their star candidate was in the running. It also came as a surprise to some Liberal party officials who believed, since Garneau never officially withdrew nomination papers he had filed, that he was still interested.

Garneau, who quit his job as head of Canada's space agency to run unsuccessfully for the Liberals in the 2006 election in the riding of Vaudreuil-Soulanges, said he approached the party in January after former Outremont MP Jean Lapierre resigned, saying he was interested in running as the Liberal candidate in Outremont. However, Garneau said he was told the riding was being reserved for somebody else.

In the spring, when Liberal MP Lucienne Robillard announced she would not run again, Garneau filed nomination papers -- as did several other candidates.

"I said this is the fit for me. I live here, I work here, I know people here," said Garneau, a Westmount resident. "This is the natural place for me."

However, Garneau became discouraged when Liberal Leader Stephane Dion announced three or four days later he would handpick the Liberal candidate for the riding.

While he said some ridings were suggested to him, they were not ridings in which the Liberals had a strong likelihood of winning.

Factor in this admission, which I believe:
But the list of potential hopefuls has shrunk, insiders report, with some people seriously rethinking the idea of running under the Liberal banner at the moment.

Local Liberals asking for a open nomination process, why not? Why offer Garneau another longshot riding, particularly when he appears to have a team and brings "star" power? Garneau said he decided a month ago, but I find that hard to believe, given the quotes from people close to him in the first article. It would appear that Garneau has resigned himself to the fact that Westmount is reserved for a Dion appointment. Given the state of affairs, and the reality that some may now run away from the Liberal banner this time out, I think it silly to be so casual with someone who could be an asset.

I guess we have to wait for the other shoe to drop here, and see the person Dion has in mind, but there is something unsettling about the way Garneau has been handled, here and the previous desire for Outremont. I don't get it.


Dan McKenzie said...

Argh, I guess it would have been silly to think the byelection losses wouldn't have further consequences. We'll probably be lucky if no one crosses the floor.

Unknown said...

Open nomination process seems like a good idea. Why wasn't it used? Hmmm, the closed nomination process is the real problem Dion is facing. Will he better fix things quick, because an election is coming October.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


This process sounds particularly unfortunate, but I've always been curious about why the Liberals appoint candidates at all. It just seems destined to make enemies at the grassroots level, and it's not as if there weren't ways for the leader to strongly encourage the election of a particular candidate within the riding if he really felt that strongly about it. Do you have any idea?

Steve V said...

I'm not sure why you appoint candidates, particularly in a part of the country where the grassroots is eroding. Seems to me Trudeau did just fine, and actually gained some credibility through a transparent process. I don't see why you want to send a top-down message, the best way to engage the riding, let them participate.

susansmith said...

I'm curious, but why would an ex-astronaut be a "star" candidate? I mean are we not interested in someone who wants to be a part of governing our nation actually having done more than fly around the world?
What does he know about public policy or anything beyond being an astronaut? I'm just trying to figure out why he would make a good politician or is it the heavy on the "star" status that makes him disirable.

Steve V said...

It's just a reference to name recognition, not a statement on any desire for superficial candidates. Frankly, I can't stand the whole system, more a problem with the process. I wonder if Jack might try and recruit him?

lance said...

Jan, in case you were unaware, the CSA is a massive system of bureaucrats, scientists, engineers, and points. It coordinates things across the country utilizing private industry, educational complexes and gov't establishments.

Amazingly enough they all work together in a mostly efficient fashion.

Garneau, as head of CSA, would be a benefit to any caucus and if in power would definitely get a cabinet position simply because of his experience.

His accomplishments are impressive both behind the desk and in the cockpit. Dismissing them seems just a little trite to say the least.

If Dion is forcing Garneau out, it will be Dion's loss and quite honestly makes me shake my head. I wonder if Garneau would be interested in running for the CPC?


Karen said...

To be honest, I don't get this either. Didn't he raise some controversy last time out? Not to suggest that's the reason, I'm just trying to sort this all out.

Jan, you are sounding like a con to be honest. All people, or most at least, have a life before they enter politics. What they did in the past, doesn't preclude their ability to go forward in public life nor does it preclude them from being earnest in a desire to work for the public good.

In other words, an analysis as shallow as the black and white view you portray, would eliminate many from public life.

I know you can't help but take a shot at all things Liberal, but good grief.

Garneau had "star" quality, because, gasp, he was a well known figure. He was qualified because he did his homework, cares deeply about this country and chose a party that matched his values.

Your pettiness is showing, again.

Steve V said...


This smells of inner circle paranoia, in that Garneau isn't their loyalist. The inner machinations of the Liberal Party are a complete turnoff, the more I learn about it, the more it bothers me. It's all connections,status and cliques. I wanted to join a party, not a sorority.

Dan McKenzie said...

Obviously the situation wasn't handled right but I don't think it's clear that he couldn't have won a nomination, or that he was eventually going to be appointed. A fuck up nonetheless I guess.

Anonymous said...

This nomination is going to be ugly and Dion appointing a woman may help alleviate the bitter party contests.

Garneau is the candidate of the Iggy camp. The Rae people are also eyeing the nomination in this riding too.

The word in Montreal is that the Dippers are getting Julius Grey to run in this riding. Giving the success of Mulcair's run, the Dippers are sure to take advantage of our fraticidal woes.

burlivespipe said...

Yes, this is perturbing, to say the least. As you say, it removes the grassroots from the equation and we saw how well that paid off in Outremont. I'm hoping this is an indication that Dion is taking a professorial view of candidate nominations.
Garneau's profile and experience would have been a huge asset, and that he was an Ignatieff supporter who was willing and eager to run under Dion seemed to shine a positive light on him. I had the pleasure to talk with him at the convention and he was definitely a passionate Liberal.
Whether Dion has a high profile woman candidate or not, he has to realize that at this stage, his touch isn't golden. Allow the local liberals to make some decisions. It will lift some of the pressure off him later.
Garneau as a candidate would have been another 'star' candidate who would give credence to our platform. When you compare the Liberal potential candidates, including the leadership candidates, to the CONs, and its' like MGM's lineup in 1940 compared to Republic Pictures. But while 'B' pictures have their niche, 'B' governments belong on the cutting room floor.

Jacques Beau Vert said...

I can't comment beyond, "Huh?"

I just don't get this Dion guy some days. Today is one.

bigcitylib said...

It seems odd.

Any chance someone told MG behind the scenes that they WEREN'T expecting a fall election and nominations were therefore on hold?

Anonymous said...

Well, as they say, when you hit bottom the only way to go is up.