Wednesday, October 29, 2008

LeBlanc Is In, McKenna Is Out

First Hat in the Liberal Leadership Ring

If the Liberal leadership were decided right now, at this very moment, the party would have a new leader.

Not Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff or even Frank McKenna. Rather, it would be Dominic LeBlanc, the first Liberal to officially declare his candidacy in the Liberal Leadership contest.

In terms of party renewal, LeBlanc has his share of ideas on what has gone wrong, and how to fix the problem.

“Perhaps, in recent campaigns, we have drifted from that pragmatic centre of Canadian politics and we haven't given some of the traditional Liberal voting blocs an enthusiastic reason to support us," LeBlanc announced.

"I think that the Liberal party needs to return to a pragmatic, centrist approach to policy and to politics," he added. "I think that we need to regain our position as a voice for the middle-class and working Canadians, anglophones and francophones and for younger people."

With LeBlanc declared for the race, one might have expected the campaign to be set to heat up. Not so.

An individual expected to have been a front-runner in the campaign, former New Brunswick Premier Frank McKenna has decided not to join the contest.

"The challenge of winning the leadership, restoring the health of the Liberal Party and returning a Liberal majority government requires a longer time commitment than I am prepared to make," McKenna announced. "There will be an ample number of well-qualified candidates to do this important work."

Certainly, Rae and Ignatieff -- both expected to declare for the race -- must be breathing a sigh of relief with another potential front runner deciding to forgo an attempt at the leadership.

But as Ujjal Dosanjh and John Manley continue to consider running, each will face significant competition for their respective target demographics, as their potential supporters consider holding out for a better deal from competing camps.

But right now Dominic LeBlanc is the only candidate in the race. Until a few more candidates actually come out and declare, there isn't much to talk about in concrete terms -- the entire Liberal leadership race remains largely hypothetical.

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