Liberal leadership hopeful eager to regain trust

Fresh off the first of five debates in the Liberal leadership race, Martha Hall Findlay made a campaign stop in Red Deer on Thursday.

Fresh off the first of five debates in the Liberal leadership race, Martha Hall Findlay made a campaign stop in Red Deer on Thursday.

She met with more than 20 people at It’s All Greek to Me on Gaetz Avenue before heading to Edmonton for more campaign events.

“I am no fan of the Harper government, and I am certainly no fan of a Mulcair-led NDP alternative,” said Hall Findlay. “I am a proud Liberal and we’ve done incredibly good things in this country over close to a couple of centuries.”

The 53-year-old former MP said the party will have to regain the trust and confidence of Canadians.

“My challenge is that, over the last six years the Liberal Party has, and this is tough for me to say as a Liberal, but we’ve really tried to be too many things to too many people. In that process, you end up not being very clear to a whole lot of people.”

She is the only candidate in the 2013 field who ran in 2006, when Stephane Dion became party leader.

Hall Findlay said one of the differences between this leadership race and her first candidacy in 2006 is now she is among the front-runners.

“That was the overwhelming response from media and pundits,” said Hall Findlay. “That is what we wanted to accomplish.”

Unlike in 2006, the Liberal Party of Canada is not as powerful a political entity. Moving to third party status has forced the party to face some harsh realities.

There are four more debates scheduled before the April 6 leadership showcase, and the end of voting on April 14, and Hall Findlay said it was likely, as the candidates get closer to the end, “the gloves will come off.”

Hall Findlay is an executive fellow with the school of public policy at the University of Calgary and released a paper calling for the elimination of supply management in the agricultural sector.

“Supply management is paid for by the most vulnerable in our society,” said Hall Findlay. “It’s an ineffective regressive tax. The average family pays hundreds more dollars than they should for basic nutrition. The ones who are most hurt by that are the most vulnerable, they tend to be single-parent families.”

She also said supply management harms trade opportunities, pointing to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, where Canada was invited to the table, but would not be able to sign it until the elimination of supply management.

She also said that an opportunity for the Northern Gateway Pipeline to succeed was missed when aboriginal communities were not consulted, which led to them becoming adversaries of the proposed pipeline.

“It would be great to get this oil to other markets,” said Hall Findlay. “How do we do that in the most environmentally sound and economic way and, of course, with regard to First Nations?”

Through her campaign, she is touting a national energy infrastructure strategy, which includes sending energy products to market both to the West Coast and to the East Coast, where New Brunswick has refining capacity and a deepwater port.

“I am a big supporter of the oilsands. Obviously we need to be a more environmentally sustainable, but I know there is a ton of work being done to do that.”

“Greenhouse gas emissions are part of environmental degradation,” said Hall Findlay. “Every part of pollution should have a price.”

Another Liberal leadership contender, Justin Trudeau, will be in Central Alberta this weekend, speaking at the Ponoka Kinsmen Recreation Centre from 1 to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Also running in the leadership race are David Bertschi, Martin Cauchon, Deborah Coyne, Marc Garneau, Karen McCrimmon, Joyce Murray and George Takach.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com