Martha Hall Findlay has been handed the plum Toronto riding of Willowdale to make her bid for a seat in the House of Commons in the next election.

Hall Findlay made an unsuccessful run for the leadership of the Liberal party last year, eventually shifting her support to Stephane Dion, who went on to win the contest.

The Willowdale seat, held by Liberal MP Jim Peterson since 1988, is a Liberal stronghold and almost guarantees Hall Findlay a place in Parliament, said CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.

"This is a very strong Liberal riding so I don't think the Liberals are going to have any worries about her really facing a strong challenge from the Conservatives," Fife told CTV Newsnet.

"Now that she has this nomination, without a doubt she will probably easily win an election in the riding and she will have a seat in the House of Commons. If the Liberals have their way she will be in a Liberal cabinet."

Peterson recently announced he will not be running in the next election.

During the Liberal leadership race, Dion promised to substantially increase the number of women running under the Liberal banner in the next election. He said Thursday's appointment fits with his efforts to achieve renewal within the party.

"I am very excited that we have found a place that matches Martha's Toronto roots," Dion said in a statement.

"Martha, through her tireless travelling of our great country, first as a leadership candidate and now in her role as Platform Outreach Chair for the Liberal Party, has come to represent Liberal renewal."

Since the leadership campaign Hall Findlay has been travelling Canada, consulting with Canadians on what they would like to see in the party's election platform.

Willowdale Federal Liberal Riding Association President Joanne Pratt said the riding association voted overwhelmingly in favour of Hall Findlay's appointment.

Fife said observers expect Dion to continue appointing women to prominent ridings in anticipation of a coming election.

However, the political future of Belinda Stronach -- one of the Liberals' most prominent female MPs -- has come into question in Ottawa recently.

"She has been more or less eclipsed since the Liberal leadership race," said Fife. "She rarely ever gets up in the House of Commons to ask questions, and people here in Ottawa are wondering whether she is going to run again for the party."

"Her office and she herself insist that she is, but there are some doubts here."

Stronach and Hall Findlay have a history. In 2004, they ran against each other in the Newmarket-Aurora riding north of Toronto, with Stronach -- then a Conservative -- coming out the victor.

Hall Findlay later won the Liberal nomination for the riding, but stepped aside after Stronach crossed the floor to the Liberals in May 2005.