Robert Libman believes he has the right stuff to end almost 75 years of federal Liberal rule in the Montreal riding of Mount Royal.
Libman, an architect and former provincial and municipal politician who helped found Quebec's Equality Party, is vying to be the Conservative Party of Canada’s candidate in the riding in the next federal election, which is slated for fall 2015.
“I believe in Stephen Harper and his government in many ways, and a lot of people have encouraged me to take a look at [the candidacy] and I’ve agreed to throw my hat into the ring and return to politics,” he told CBC Radio’s Homerun.
Libman made a name for himself as a prominent crusader for minority language rights in Quebec in the late 1980s and won one of four Equality Party seats in the National Assembly in 1989.
Libman, who also served as the mayor of Côte Saint-Luc before leaving politics in 2005, joins a high-profile field of hopefuls looking to replace outgoing Liberal MP Irwin Cotler.
Cotler first won the riding in 1999 with a whopping 92 per cent of the vote and has been re-elected every federal election since then.
The popular MP and former federal justice minister announced last February that he would not be running for re-election in 2015.
Former Côte Saint-Luc mayor Anthony Housefather is hoping to replace Cotler as the federal Liberal Party candidate for Mount Royal.
He is being challenged by Jonathan Goldbloom, a public relations strategist who is being backed by a number of prominent Montreal Liberals.
Mount Royal has been a Liberal stronghold since 1940 and was once represented by Pierre Elliott Trudeau.
A Conservative upset?
The Conservatives have seen their numbers in Mount Royal rise in recent elections and the party has made no secret of the fact it wants the riding.
Libman believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s strong support for Israel could help swing Mount Royal’s large Jewish population in the Conservatives’ favour next year.
“I think Mount Royal is ripe for a Conservative victory, based on some of the leadership that Stephen Harper has shown on a number of fronts,” Libman said.
Pollster Darrel Bricker, however, said the Conservatives have their work cut out for them in the riding.
“There's a bit of an in-road there, potentially, but it's not enough to win that riding. They’ll need a solid candidate and they will need the Liberal side to have their problems,” Bricker told CBC News.
Mount Royal’s Conservative riding association is expected to elect its candidate in the fall.