Garneau quits Liberal race, says Trudeau can't be stopped
Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013 9:49AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 13, 2013 10:14PM EDT
Liberal MP Marc Garneau announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the race to become leader of the federal Liberal Party, saying his campaign team’s concluded he has no chance of beating Justin Trudeau.
Garneau said his campaign’s own internal polling concludes “that the party has chosen,” meaning Trudeau has an insurmountable lead in the race.
“It is time now for the party to move forward together and together we can shape a better future for the country and the party,” the MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie told reporters. “I will be a loyal soldier and I intend to be around for a very long time.”
Garneau evaded questions about his frequent campaign-trail criticism of Trudeau: that he both lacks the requisite experience to be leader and was running a campaign thin on policy details. He would only say that Trudeau has “risen to the occasion.” Garneau repeatedly said he was ready to “move on” from the race and “work for the party and the new leader in whatever capacity they choose.”
Garneau told reporters that his campaign team’s polling of about 6,000 Liberal members and supporters showed Trudeau had 72 per cent support, while Garneau himself was way back at 15 per cent support. Liberal MP Joyce Murray appeared to have 7.4 per cent support, according to the Garneau campaign’s polling, and Martha Hall Findlay sat at 5.2 per cent.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Murray dismissed Garneau’s data and said it will not determine the future of her campaign.
"I'm not going to give it any credit," Murray said."I happen to completely disagree with his assessment that there's only one possible outcome to this race ... It's not a done deal."
Garneau’s announcement leaves seven candidates in the race: Trudeau, Murray, Hall Findlay, lawyers David Bertschi and Deborah Coyne, former Liberal MP Martin Cauchon, and Karen McCrimmon.
The new Liberal leader will be announced at a party convention in Ottawa on April 14.
The party has opened the selection process to a new supporter category, giving non-Liberals a chance to cast votes alongside card-carrying party members.
When the deadline to register new supporters passed earlier this month, Trudeau’s campaign team announced it had garnered considerably more than any other candidate: approximately 150,000. Reports have since pegged that figure closer to 170,000.
On the day supporter registration closed, during an all-candidates’ debate in Halifax, Garneau took aim at Trudeau, saying “Canadians want to see substance, they don’t want empty words.” Trudeau countered that he had been “just as specific” as other candidates on the issues, and said he was proud of his positive campaign.
Garneau said Wednesday that Trudeau “must be commended for contributing to renewed interest in the Liberal Party of Canada,” and said his earlier criticism of Trudeau was part of a healthy competition.
But he acknowledged that “numbers don’t lie.”
Trudeau’s victory is “a fait accompli,” Garneau said. “I cannot see the numbers changing because he has an overwhelming lead.”
Garneau said he will make himself available to Trudeau post-convention “if he chooses,” to help shape the party’s policies ahead of the 2015 election.
“In time, five weeks from now in fact, it will be time for all of us Liberals to dedicate ourselves to the real task ahead, and that is building a true Liberal alternative to Stephen Harper.”
Trudeau responded to Garneau’s announcement via Twitter.
“Thank you @MarcGarneau for your support and for a lifetime of service to Canadians,” Trudeau tweeted. “Lots of work still to do, together! #cdnpoli.”