And Then There Were Seven.

If you told me a couple days ago that someone was going to drop out today... pretty much the last person I would've suspected is Marc Garneau. And yet, the more I think on it, the more it makes sense. The only candidates left in the race are those with strong but distinct ideas (Findlay), weak but distinct ideas (Murray), and those who can't see the writing on the wall (Bertschi, McCrimmon, Coyne, and Cauchon). Garneau's ideas were good, but they weren't items that required him to implement. Jonathan Kay at the Post says this means we don't want smart candidates with good ideas. I disagree. I want a smart candidate, and there's no questioning Mr. Garneau's intelligence. I want good ideas, and Garneau had good ideas. What he didn't have is a compelling case why he was the only person who could make his proposals happen.

Making it easier to pay off student loans? I can get behind that, but if the goal is to increase the number of people going to post-secondary, elementary and high school is a more effective, albeit less sexy, place to point your resources. That die is cast long before the question of how to pay for university even comes up.

Opening telecom to competition? That's something the Conservatives are currently doing. Not as fast as I'd like, and a fair-use exemption to digital lock provisions would be a great addition to our copyright laws... but this isn't especially controversial or bold. It's just a good idea, much like ensuring all households have broadband.

Gender equality? Great, but most (not all) of the legal barriers to this are already taken care of. The biggest remaining obstacles, and they are obstacles that ought to be addressed, are cultural. Garneau did a speech on equality on International Women's Day. The word culture didn't appear once.

Expansion of Pacific-directed trade? You mean the one policy position Justin Trudeau's actually taken a stand on?

All of these ideas are well-thought out (except the student loan thing, but even that's a good plan, I just don't think it'll have the intended effect). None of them really conflict with anything laid out by Trudeau, Findlay, Murray, or any of the also-rans. There's nothing stopping the eventual winner from incorporating most or all of these policies into their 2015 platform - none of them require much courage. "Some things are expensive and it'd be nice if they cost less" is a pragmatic but not especially principled stand to take when the target is Rogers, if supply management later comes up for debate and you defend a status quo that costs Canadian families millions for the benefit of a relatively small number of farmers.

I sincerely wish Garneau nothing but the best, and I'm confident that he'll remain a strong voice for the Liberal Party in parliament. Should we have the opportunity to form government, he'll make a damn fine minister. But as a candidate for leader, he demonstrated less leadership on policy and less leadership in generating excitement for the party than the other candidates. Trudeau can incorporate most of his platform without much adjustment, as he should, and if that drives more policy wonks towards MHF... I can't really complain.

I am curious to know if he was aware the registration deadline was going to be extended when he made the call today, but that's a topic for another today. Specifically, tomorrow.


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