The hottest rumour sweeping through Ottawa these days has a lot of Liberals abuzz with excitement — except maybe for Justin Trudeau.
After Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty abruptly resigned from his Queen’s Park perch on Monday, Parliament Hill’s infamous rumour mill began chugging into overdrive that he would take a shot at the federal Liberal leadership.
Like him or not, McGuinty’s entrance into the Liberal leadership race would inject some heavyweight rivalry to the perceived front-runner, Trudeau. After the party was reduced to 34 seats — third behind the Tories and NDP — in the 2011 federal election, it is imperative the Grits field the best candidate the next time the writ drops.
Who that may be is still to be determined, and won’t be finalized until Liberals vote at their convention in April, but a coronation for Trudeau would not bode well for the party. Yes, the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau has the charisma, good looks and pedigree to attract voters in a national election but his experience, or lack thereof, has raised questions from pundits and from within the party itself.
A race — a true horse race — will bring out better ideas, better arguments, better leadership qualities than if the keys are just handed to Trudeau. The fact is, in the last decade, the Liberals have elected two leaders with hardly a fight.
In 2003, Paul Martin virtually stamped out any threat to his leadership aspirations and steamrolled to the post to succeed Jean Chretien as prime minister. A Liberal minority and a lost election later, and we know how well that went.
After the debacle that was Stephane Dion, it was all but formality for Michael Ignatieff to become leader. The author, scholar, lecturer and writer was virtually appointed saviour of the party in 2009 — not unlike Trudeau now — when he was endorsed as leader after all other candidates for the post stepped down.
He went on to captain the Liberals’ worst showing ever in 2011.
Of course, McGuinty will have to deal with his own problems and scandals that he left to others to clean up in Ontario, but he is a likeable person, and if he chooses to run, the Liberals may actually become relevant again. After all, as Las Vegas betting houses can attest to, heavyweight bouts draw a lot of interest.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.