Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Manitoban pulls out of contest

Paramedic backs Trudeau for leader

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OTTAWA -- The Manitoba paramedic who was planning to run for the Liberal leadership is stepping aside to make way for Team Trudeau.

Shane Geschiere announced last February he was going to run for the helm of the troubled Liberal party because he felt the race needed a youthful candidate not from the political mainstream.

"Just because one hasn't been in politics for 30 years doesn't make them any less able to lead," Geschiere said last winter. "In fact, my lack of political experience is something I see as my greatest asset."

The 32-year-old from Oakbank, however, was already reconsidering his run when the party set the entry fee at $75,000. With Justin Trudeau officially entering the race Tuesday, Geschiere decided to pull out.

"With the news of Justin Trudeau becoming a candidate, I will choose to support him, as he demonstrates the youthfulness and a possible game changer, which I what I wanted to be," said Geschiere.

Geschiere wrote to the Liberal party brass asking for a "more reasonable" entry fee, such as the $15,000 charged by the NDP for its leadership contest last year. The only reply he got was a message telling him his request had been received.

He said setting the fee so high precludes anyone but wealthy or well-connected candidates from running.

"A lower fee would open the field in terms of people with different economic statuses and add to the richness of the leadership race," he said.

He said he's not turning away from politics or the Liberals, and plans to mount a campaign to become an MP in Provencher when the opportunity arises.

Manitoba MP Kevin Lamoureux said he doesn't think the $75,000 entry fee is extraordinary. He said the fee didn't deter him during the brief time he considered running.

"At the end of the day, the fee is reasonable," he said.

"I'm not a wealthy individual. I live in the North End. I didn't find it to be an impediment."

Lamoureux said if there weren't an entry fee there would be 100 people in the race.

The fee is not the most expensive in a Canadian political leadership contest. In 2004, the last time the Conservatives held a leadership contest, the entry fee was $100,000.

In 2006, the Liberals charged a $50,000 entrance fee.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 3, 2012 B3

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