With all the attention that lad Trudeau has received since announcing his candidacy for the Liberal leadership Oct. 2, it may have seemed like the campaign has been underway for weeks already.
But it officially just started Wednesday, and it is starting to look like it will be at least a bit of a race.
Althought Justin Trudeau clearly is the front runner - and at this point in time he is the only one who has officially registered as a candidate - he has as many as seven challengers at this point in the game, and next Wednesday his biggest foe is expected to finally say yes.
Former astronaut turned Montreal MP Marc Garneau is rumoured to be ready to announce his candidacy on Nov. 21. Garneau has been considering a run for months and has been under pressure to do so by party brass who believe he is one of, if not THE only person, who can give Justin Trudeau a run and prevent this from being a coronation.
Former MP Martha Hall Findlay - who just weeks ago finished paying off her debts from her run in the 2006 contest where she was eliminated on the first ballot - jumped in on Wednesday with an announcement in Calgary.
Then there is a growing list of candidates who are little known outside the Liberal party - and some aren't even that well known within it. They include:
- lawyer and former Liberal candidate Deborah Coyne (also known as the mother of Pierre Trudeau's daughter and Justin Trudeau's half-sister). She was one of the first to officially join, announcing in July.
- Ottawa lawyer and former Liberal candidate David Bertschi,
- Vancouver crown prosecutor Alex Burton,
- retired Air Force Lt. Col Karen McCrimmon (the first woman in Canada to ever lead an Air Force squadron)
- former head of the B.C. wing of the Liberal Party David Merner (he left the post to run in the leadership race.),
- senior federal economist Jonathan Mousley.
All of the candidates have to pay $75,000 in three equal deposits to be on the ballot when the vote takes place April 14 in Ottawa. The first deposit was due upon registration. The second is due Dec. 15 and the third and final is due Jan. 13. (Jan. 13 is also the last day any candidate can register to run). Don't be surprised if the field is reduced by then as it's a lot of money to raise just to enter and with Ontario also in the throes of a leadership race, money and volunteers are going to be spread thin.
The winner will be chosen in a new process that allows anyone who signs up as a party member or a supporter by March 3, to vote.
Every riding will be given equal weight, with each allocated 100 points. The points will be distributed to each candidate based on their share of the votes from a particular riding. The winner must get more 50 per cent of the points to win, so it may require subseqent votes. However, the votes will be cast on a preferential ballot, so voters will mark one ballot and rank their choices.
Winnipeg will host a debate on Feb. 2. Details on the exact location are still to be determined. Other debates will be held in Vancouver (Jan. 20) Toronto (Feb. 17), Halifax (March 3) and Montreal (March 23).