Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Why I Support Marc Garneau

Let Science Lead the Way

The Liberal Party of Canada is the midst of a leadership campaign. There have been several candidates to declare and so far, unlike the past leadership campaign. In 2009, Michael Ignatieff had the field cleared for him by other Liberals who feared his front runner status or who were crippled under debt from the past election and past leadership races.

The elevation of Ignatieff without a race did not serve the leader, the party or Canadians well. It didn't allow for debate on issues, test the themes a future campaign might take across Canada and work out the kinks in the party in regards to its past and future. The media calling it a coronation stuck and there was the criticism that the Liberals that their star would sweep them back into office.

The crippled Liberal finances and organization were no match for the Tories who began the campaign early attacking Ignatieff's foreign work experience and celebrity with: "He didn't come back for you."

Despite momentum leading up to the last election, Ignatieff had never tapped into the populism of past leaders. Nor was he able to deflect or answer easily questions about his attendance in the House of Commons from Jack Layton during the debate.

The answer quite simply was that he had to get out of Ottawa and into the field to listen to Canadians and get a sense of what they needed from their government. In that sense, it is not much different than other Opposition leaders shortly after being made leader or from what happens in a leadership campaign. The past NDP leadership campaign is a case in point.

In any event, water under the bridge.

The Liberal leadership campaign at present is being held without the threat of an impending election (unless Harper wants to call a snap one since the legislation allows for it). This means that there is no rush to coronate a leader to face off in Parliament at the earliest possible time.

As mentioned, there have been several candidates to declare this time for the Liberal leadership. Justin Trudeau is perceived to be the front runner and has attracted much attention.

However, it is great to see Marc Garneau step up and declare his candidacy as well.

At this point in the race, I am supporting him.

In this day and age in Canada where science and expertise in various fields is under attack, I want a man of science to counter that criticism with reason and experience. In 1984, Marc Garneau was the first Canadian to go into space as an astronaut. He went on two other additional missions and served as Capcom, the lead communications officer for other NASA shuttle missions.

Prior to being an astronaut, Garneau served for 12 years in Canada's navy rising to Captain.

At the time he entered politics he had been serving as head of the Canadian Space Agency for five years.

In 2008, Marc Garneau became a Liberal Member of Parliament and has served with two Liberal leaders and has distinguished himself as a calm and reasoned voice in Ottawa. He is not tainted by involvement with past Liberal governments provincially or federally. He has a decorated career in the military lest someone question if he ever had a job. And if anyone questions his courage, he went into space two more times after a shuttle disaster in 1986.

In just a short time, Garneau has indicated policy ideas on such things as cell phones that has stumped the Harper Tories the past 6 years. Even the National Post has taken notice.

I am sure there are flaws in Marc Garneau the candidate but I am supporting him and his effort to raise the level of discussion in Canada. He has the makings of a great leader.

And clever catchphrases such as: "He didn't back to Earth for you" are not likely to cut it from Harper Tories.

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