Justin Trudeau will have to wade through a political minefield over the next few weeks while he waits to see if anyone else will challenge him for the Liberal Party leadership. It is a tough position to be in, especially with the Ignatieff coronation serving as such a recent example.
However, the last thing Trudeau needs is another 2008-09 style coronation which in the end didn't do Michael Ignatieff any good, nor the Liberal Party for that matter. Did Ignatieff's coronation in May 2009 end the rivalry between his camp and Bob Rae's supporters?
While it might be tempting for Trudeau to reference the divisive aftermath of the 2006 Liberal race, it is one talk point he should avoid using, least people figure a coronation is what he really wants.
Anyone who has spent time in the political world knows that true leadership contests can be brutal. Politics is as much a battle of ideas as it is of personalities. And when the contest is over, there are often a lot of bruised egos, sometimes damaged reputations and certainly there can be some bitterness. Repairing that damage becomes a true test of leadership.
SLIDESHOW: Prospective Liberal Leadership Candidates
One can certainly understand why Trudeau and his supporters might prefer a coronation. Leadership races can be brutal and very costly in time, effort and money. With a coronation Trudeau will have the added bonus of not having to present a lot of policy options. His policies won't be scrutinized by the media nor will his political opponents in the other parties have a chance to pounce and tear his ideas apart. A coronation won't even give those in his own party a chance to see what he is made of nor will it give rank and file Liberals an opportunity to see if his vision for the Liberal Party is where they want to go. Pretty good stuff if you are the front runner in an uncontested race and certainly you need some good talk points when the media asks your opinion about political coronations.
While Trudeau's talk points have him focusing on the 2006 Liberal leadership campaign as an example of how divisive a leadership race can be, what he failed to mention was that once the votes are counted and a new leader is chosen, then it is up to that person to show true leadership and mend the bridges and heal the wounds inflicted over the campaign.
Was it wrong to have a contested Liberal leadership campaign in 2006 or did the newly elected leader fail in his task of bringing the opposing sides back together for the good of the party and the country?
Other parties have had tough leadership campaigns and survived. We have seen Harper in March, 2004 and Mulcair in March, 2012, go through leadership races and end up with united parties behind them. If they could do it why couldn't the next leader of the Liberal party do the same thing?
If we want to look at a really bruising leadership race we can go back to the Brian Mulroney-Joe Clark battles. Yet when all was said and done Mulroney made a point of being inclusive. Clark received a high profile portfolio; other leadership candidates were also treated well. This helped to unite the party behind Mulroney and provided him with the political strength he needed to win two majority governments. Leadership is more than just winning and Mulroney demonstrated that it was possible to end up with a united party.
Everyone likes to win, but Trudeau should welcome a tough leadership race and that is what his talk points should be saying. Should he win such a political challenge, then he will have put to rest the whispers that he is a policy light weight, or just a pretty face or just living on his father's name.
Here are the remaining candidates for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Age: 40 Occupation: MP for Montreal-area riding of Papineau <a href="http://justin.ca/en/">Website</a>
Age: 58 Occupation: Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra, former B.C. Liberal environment minister <a href="http://joycemurray.liberal.ca/">Website</a>
Age: 53 Occupation: Former Liberal MP for Willowdale and 2006 leadership candidate <a href="http://www.marthahallfindlay.ca/">Website</a>
Age: 50 Occupation: Lawyer, former Montreal Liberal MP <a href="http://martincauchon.ca/">Website</a>
Age: 57 Occupation: Lawyer, professor <a href="http://www.deborahcoyne.ca/">Website</a>
Occupation: A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the Canadian forces and mediator. <a href="http://karenforcanada.ca/" target="_hplink">Website</a>
"His resume is paper thin. He's truly the Paris Hilton. He was born into money, and a name, and that's about all he's done." - <a href="http://blogs.canoe.ca/lilleyspad/general/video-levant-and-lilley-on-trudeaumania-part-2/">Ezra Levant</a> (2:50 in video)
"Maybe Justin Trudeau won’t be Maygan Sensenberger to the Liberals’ Rod Zimmer. Maybe there’s a hidden depth beneath that glib exterior. Maybe he’s more mature than the MP with the Johnny Depp moustache who called the environment minister a 'piece of shit' during a heated moment in the House of Commons, and suggested that if Canada’s going to go the way of Stephen Harper 'maybe I would think about making Quebec a country.'" - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>
"Nothing riles Liberals more than the accusation that Justin’s nothing more than an empty suit – or whatever you call his often curious attire." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>
"I found last March’s boxing match between Justin and a Conservative Senator to have been an embarrassing descent into adolescent machismo." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>
<i>On a protest in Toronto against the anti-Islam film the "Innocence of Muslims."</i> "You’d have thought that if a vigorous objection would be coming from anywhere, it would be coming from the Liberal Party of Canada. It didn’t, and it is even less likely that it soon will, now that the delicate princeling Justin Trudeau has unofficially declared his odds-on-favourite candidacy for the party leadership." - <a href="http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/only+Canada+liberal+party/7304311/story.html">Terry Glavin</a>
"Justin Trudeau is a dabbler – he dabbled in teaching, dabbled in the arts, dabbled in acting, dabbled in activism. Now he’s dabbling in politics." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>
"After running the country for most of the 20th century it’s morphing into the Lindsay Lohan of Canadian politics, constantly vowing to clean up its act, only to wake up with a headache and another charge on its rap sheet. The Liberals aren’t into drugs that I know of, but after three failed marriages, a stint in rehab and with its overall health in decline, it pledged to undertake a serious effort to re-establish itself as a mature, dependable party. Instead it’s plunging shamelessly into an affair with the handsome young thing with the dynamite hair." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/28/kelly-mcparland-liberals-transform-themselves-into-the-lindsay-lohan-party/">Kelly McParland</a>
"Mr. Trudeau brings a thin résumé. He has youth, a storied name, decent smarts and a certain something that makes people like him. That this may be enough speaks volumes about how low the bar is set for the job of Liberal leader." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/if-trudeau-leads-will-liberals-follow/article4570953/">John Ibbitson</a>
"A high school teacher when he wore a cropped version of a Johnny Depp beard, Justin reached out to the country only once before, at his father’s funeral: voicing the most poignant of the elegies, ending his prayer with the heart-rending, 'Je t’aime, papa.' Prayers will come in handy should he be charged with rescuing the Liberals, who haven’t been the country’s Natural Governing Party since Noah launched his ark." - <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/18/trudeaus-big-leap/">Peter C. Newman</a>
"Unless Justin as leader applies some harsh medicine to the remnants of the Liberal party, he will end up like Ben Mulroney, hosting entertainment shows. (Already the politician, Justin invited Ben to his wedding to glamorous CTV talk show correspondent Sophie Grégoire.)" - <a href="http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/09/18/trudeaus-big-leap/">Peter C. Newman</a>
"What do you want me to be? A cowboy? I can do that! No? Something else? Name it? I was a drama teacher, so I can totally be what you need." - <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/26/post-approved-campaign-posters-slogans-for-justin-trudeaus-liberal-leadership-bid/">Steve Murray </a>
"Justin Trudeau and Justin Bieber have more in common than just a first name. Both guys are also adored by legions of love struck fans. Except in the case of Bieber the fans are teenage girls, whereas for Trudeau they are the Canadian media." - <a href="http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2012/09/27/gerry-nicholls-dear-media-will-you-and-justin-get-a-room-please/">Gerry Nicholls</a>
"Outside the Commons Wednesday, the son of Canada's most over-rated and historically-revised PM, the Shiny Pony, as Sun News Network refers to him mockingly, had his media fan club giggling like groupies at a Justin Bieber concert." - <a href="http://www.torontosun.com/2012/09/27/the-shiny-pony-enters-horserace">Sun News</a>
"Eulogies aren’t easy, especially when they’re deeply personal. But I was among many who found his to be maudlin and sappy, contrived, almost embarrassing, the opposite of those who felt it soared to the heavens." - <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/second-reading/is-justin-trudeau-really-taken-seriously-by-his-own-party/article4575515/">Gerald Caplan</a>
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