03/25/2013 03:25 EDT | Updated 03/25/2013 06:10 EDT

Liberal Leadership Race: Grits Clash Over Electoral Co-Operation


Would electoral co-operation between the Liberals, the NDP and the Green Party lead to Prime Minister Thomas Mulcair?

According to perceived Liberal leadership front-runner Justin Trudeau, that would be the result of an electoral pact suggested by his opponent, Vancouver MP Joyce Murray.

Former Toronto MP Martha Hall Findlay used her closing statement during the Liberals' final leadership debate in Montreal, on Saturday, March 23, to say that she too thinks any cooperation agreement with the NDP would result in Conservative leader Stephen Harper being replaced with Mulcair.

The last time there was an electoral pact between the Greens and the Liberals was in Central Nova in 2008, Hall Findlay also noted.

"That didn't actually work so well. Liberals were furious at not having a Liberal candidate to vote for. The Conservative vote went up and the Liberal party is still hurting in Nova Scotia as a result."

But Murray stuck to her guns — despite the fact the NDP has showed no interest in participating in her plan which calls for joint-nomination meetings between progressive parties, defined as the Liberals, Greens, and NDP.

Canada's electoral system needs reform, Murray told a semi-receptive crowd in Montreal. The only way to do it, she said, was to scrap the first-past-the-post system.

"Millions of Canadians want this to change, they want a new politics, they want us working together," Murray said.

Murray and Hall Findlay, who are widely seen as competing for second place in the contest, also clashed over the building of pipelines through British Columbia.

Murray accused Hall Findlay of "vocally opposing" her bill to limit tanker traffic in B.C.

"Are you choosing the interest of the Calgary oil industry over the interest of British Columbians? We want to know," she asked.

Hall Findlay said she supports getting oil to the west coast because Canada's prosperity depends on it.

"I do support the oilsands. Of course, they have to be environmentally sustainable and there is nobody in this party, and nobody up here who has a monopoly over wanting environmentally sustainability," Hall Findlay shot back.

There are now six candidates vying for the Liberal leadership. The party has planned a showcase of all the campaigns in Toronto on April 6. The winner will be announced on April 14.

Liberal Leadership Candidates