11:30 p.m., Feb. 21)
Liberal nomination race shaping up to be a very 'high
By Fred Sherwin
the arena of party politics, riding nomination races don't
normally receive much attention beyond a few headlines
in the local community newspaper.
exception is when a star candidate is involved, and in
those cases the nomination is usually uncontested so there
isn't much to write about. Not so the upcoming Liberal
nomination race in Ottawa-Orléans where three men
stand poised to throw their hats into the ring, including
probably the most talked about Liberal in the country,
save for Justin Trudeau.
general Andrew Leslie has been waiting to announce his
intended candidacy until after this weekend's Liberal
convention in Montreal. He's been pegged by the Liberal
Party as a potential "high profile" candidate,
and after the controversy of the past week involving the
cost of his move from his former residence to his current
home, his profile couldn't be any higher.
or not it will help his chances of winning the nomination
is anybody's guess.
one of the men he will need to beat in order to win the
nomination is former Liberal candidate David Bertschi
who last year ran for the Liberal leadership in the hope
of raising his own profile. He ended up taking his name
off the ballot two weeks before party members cast their
wants another shot at thrice-elected Conservative incumbent
Royal Galipeau, who beat him in the last election. But
before a rematch can happen, Bertschi must first win the
nomination. In 2009, he beat out Innes Ward Coun. Rainer
Bloess and former Orleans Chamber of Conmerce president
Judith Cane, two people who were extremely low profile,
at least outside of the riding.
time around he must beat a retired Lieutenant-General
who not only has an impressive resume that includes a
career in military and public service, as well as a family
tree that includes Andrew McNaughton, the man who led
the Canadian Corps during the Second World War, and Brooke
Claxton, who served as Defence Minister under Mackenzie
King and Louis St. Laurent, he is also a member of Justin
Trudeau's inner circle and was a featured speaker on the
opening night of this weekend's convention.
may not be an official candidate yet, or even an official
candidate for the local nomination, but he's already had
a huge target placed on his back by the Conservatives
who claim he came to them first before he joined the Liberals.
to e-mails obtained by the Toronto Star, Leslie
discussed several options with high ranking members of
the Prime Minister's Office on two separate occasions
-- in June 2011 and again in September 2012.
initial correspondence between Leslie and the PMO took
place during the lead up to his retirement from military
service in Sept. 2011 and were in regards to a possible
position at the Canadian Museum of Civilization. He later
withdraw his name from consideration to pursue another
opportunity as a consultant with the CGI Group.
analysis of the second series of correspondence would
seem to indicate that the PMO approached Leslie about
a possible high level position with the RCMP. Leslie elected
not to pursue the offer, but he didn't take his name out
of the mix entirely.
a great deal of thinking, I have decided to not pursue
the RCMP position, Leslie apparently wrote in an
e-mail published by the Toronto Star on Friday
that was dated Sept. 28, 2011. If
there were no other suitable candidates then duty would
kick in, as I would never say no to the PM. But I do not
think this is the case.
of the e-mails published would indicate that Leslie ever
entertained a thought of running for the Conservatives
in the next election.
Toronto Star story does allude to a Liberal source
that apparently has knowledge that Leslie was encouraged
to run for the Conservatives in either Ottawa-Vanier,
or Carleton-Mississippi Mills, but the source is not named.
It would also seem to indicate that it was the Conservatives
who were doing the encouraging.
thing that is known for certain is that the Conservatives
feel Leslie is enough of a threat to go after him before
he's even had a chance to officially announce his intention
to seek Liberal nomination.
all makes for a very interesting and potentially very
dramatic nomination race.
third person expected to throw his hat into the ring is
long-time Liberal and former member of parliament Gar
Knutson who represented the Southern Ontario riding of
Elgin-Norfolk in the House of Commons from 1993 to 2004.
losing his seat in the 2004 general election, he remained
in Ottawa and took up residence in Orléans where
he sought the local Liberal nomination against Marc Godbout
in 2006, one year after the former Liberal incumbent lost
his own seat in the House of Commons to Galipeau.
would win the nomination against Knutson and three other
party hopefuls, but ultimately lose to Galipeau in the
2007 general election.
Conservative MP will be waiting in the wings for whoever
emerges from the Liberal nomination race. Galipeau has
already declared his intention to seek a fourth term in
office after successfully undergoing treatment for a rare
form of blood cancer.
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