No seat? Don’t compete

Now that the Liberal Party of Canada’s leadership race is officially underway — and that the party is moving up dramatically in various public opinion polls — here’s what some of the leadership candidates need to do.

Drop out.

We live in one of the world’s great democracies, and it goes without saying that any citizen should be able to run for any post he or she desires. The Liberal party, too, should be open to the ambitions of any Canadian who shares its views.

But just because you can run for something doesn’t mean that you should.

Just because you want to be a leader of a political party doesn’t mean that everyone else thinks so, too.

It gives me no pleasure to say this, but Deborah Coyne, David Bertschi and Martha Hall Findlay need to seriously reconsider their bids to lead the Liberal Party of Canada. They need to call it a day.

I’ve met Coyne, and have known David and Martha for a long time. All of them are the kind of people the Liberal party needs. All of them are the kind of people we need more of in Parliament.

Smart, decent, hard-working and dedicated to public service. But they shouldn’t be running for leader of the Liberal party.

Nor, for that matter, should the Toronto technology lawyer, the former political aide, the Vancouver lawyer, or the other Vancouver guy — the one running his campaign out of a mobile home. All of them need to quit, now.

There’s the winning thing, for example. None of them can win, and none of them will.

In the case of Coyne, Bertschi and Hall Findlay: Is it too much to ask that you win your own riding, before you start asking us to believe you canwin the country?

If you can’t, say, win your own neighbours over, how do you expect to win over the whole country?

And, in the case of the others, would it not be advisable to run, and win, a seat in Parliament before you offer yourself as leader of one of the (formerly) most successful political parties in Western democracy? Would it kill you to do that?

They all seem to have fancy-looking websites.

But a website does not a national leader make. If it did, Lady Gaga would be president of the United States. Her website is pretty neat, too.

I don’t want to be critical of any of these people. We need more like them. But isn’t it a bit, well, arrogant to want to become CEO before you ever work on the shop floor?

Listen up, lesser-known Liberal leadership candidates: We Liberals are in trouble. We got put in the penalty box, some seven years ago, and we deserved to be there. We had lost touch with the people, and ourselves. We had lost our way. Now that we are back on the ice, to extend the hockey metaphor, we are starting to look good again. Folks in the stands are starting to give us a second look. They might just start cheering for us again, if we play well.

People like Justin Trudeau, and Marc Garneau — and Bob Rae, quite frankly — are the main reason for that. They have helped to keep the Liberal party relevant, and in the papers. They have helped make us an attractive political option again.

We Grits are in a remote corner of the House of Commons. We came a distant third in the May 2011 general election. What we need now,desperately, are winners. Not folks looking to burnish their C.V., or get an ego boost.

You want the Liberal party leadership?

Fine. Go win a seat, first, and then we can talk.

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