Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Liberals showing some grit

  • Print

There was something like the whiff of cordite lingering after the nine Liberal leadership contenders left the Mississauga, Ont., debate stage Saturday. The spirited attack on front-runner Justin Trudeau as a suave, young upstart with neither the common touch nor the credentials to lead a country should cause Canadians to sit up and watch again.

Martha Hall Findlay looked like a clumsy thug in demanding to know how Mr. Trudeau, a rich man of privileged pedigree, could talk about the dilemma of Canada's middle-class, struggling to keep up as the one-per-centers continue to amass wealth and the inequality gap grows. Marc Garneau, no friend to Mr. Trudeau, however, put Ms. Hall Findley in her place, reminding Liberals they should not choose on the basis of economic status but on the substance of the man or woman who would be their next leader.

Mr. Garneau, former military officer, astronaut and president of the Canadian Space Agency, believes Mr. Trudeau doesn't have the resumé for the job. He has harangued the former high-school teacher to put a little meat on his plan for the party and the country.

There some truth in that but Mr. Trudeau remains the clear favourite in this race. He has more caucus endorsements and has raised more money in the campaign than the other eight contenders combined. His website is slick, and seeks the opinions of the young voters, asking them to help craft a new agenda for the country. Yet, like others on the stage, he failed to show the party would distinguish itself in the national political psyche.

The Liberals are having a hard time winning Canadian hearts back from the NDP. Some of the talk in the debate revealed interesting details of the candidates' platforms but there was little to show how the once-natural governing party of Canada would prove itself the better option for voters in the next general election. Ms. Hall Findlay's cri de coeur for a classless society was a case in point: She castigated her opponents for defending the middle class as the economic backbone of the country, and showed she would be just as comfortable raising a placard at an NDP convention.

The fireworks Saturday suggest the run-up to the April 14 leadership selection may become more than a sleepy coronation of a former prime minister's son. Mr. Trudeau looked ill-prepared for the rough stuff. After mustering his best defence -- I'll use my privileged upbringing to fight for Canada -- he stormed off the stage in high dudgeon.

It seems the Liberals candidates are readying to fight for a job that at one time was all but guaranteed to carry them into the office of prime minister. The guarantee is no more, but the willingness to scrap for a shot at the top is a good sign from a party that has seemed moribund until now.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 19, 2013 A10

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Winnipeg Cheapskate: Cheap summer weekends

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 090728 / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS White Pelicans belly up to the sushi bar Tuesday afternoon at Lockport. One of North America's largest birds is a common sight along the Red RIver and on Lake Winnipeg. Here the fight each other for fish near the base of Red RIver's control structure, giving human fisher's downstream a run for their money.
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press.  Local/Weather Standup- Catching rays. Prairie Dog stretches out at Fort Whyte Centre. Fort Whyte has a Prairie Dog enclosure with aprox. 20 dogs young and old. 060607.

View More Gallery Photos


Should political leaders be highly visible on the frontlines of flood fights and other natural disasters?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google