With the Liberal leadership race taking shape (Marc Garneau set to announce today), it is becoming apparent, this exercise will be anything but a beauty contest. One of the criticisms of the NDP leadership race was the "agreeable" factor, apart from Cullen's co-operation idea, there was little divergence of opinion which didn't lend itself to much spirited debate. Not necessarily a criticism, one could argue Dippers simply know who they are, hence the general unanimity, but in terms of contrast and colour, a pretty benign affair. However, a review of some early policy positions taken in this Liberal leadership almost guarantees conflicting directions, which should provide substantive debate.
Whether it be Trudeau's somewhat controversial stance on foreign ownership, Murray reintroducing the carbon tax into the mix, as well as the complex arguments around political co-operation, or Hall Findlay's views on supply management, it all congeals into a fairly volatile mix, with much more to come one suspects. Anyone predicting reaffirmation debates is deluding themselves, the stage is now set for Liberals to partake in a philosophical discussion, that could lead to very divergent paths. Candidates will be put through their paces, as ideas are challenged, "sacred cows" put up for slaugher, there is the potential to get well beyond platitudes, into the policy weeds that Liberals really need to examine on the "renewal" path.
Garneau is a man of substance, Murray has staked out some interesting ground, Hall Findlay promises policy planks on an almost weekly basis and Trudeau has given early indications that there is vision beyond the superficial distractions. Obviously, Justin is the hands down front runner, but the lay of the land suggests he will be put through is paces, divergent positions will demand forceful debate and compelling counters. There is no leadership cake walk on the horizon, at least in terms of the process.
People were worried if Liberals would actually have an interesting leadership race. Early indications are shaping up to suggest a very compelling debate about ideas and directions, formidable candidates and divergent paths. Liberals need a substantive debate, it would appear we are about to have one....