Nine individuals are presenting themselves to be the next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. Should they succeed, they are going to have beat both the Conservatives and the NDP.
So, what kind of track record do these individuals have when they have put their names on ballots in their own constituencies against Conservatives, New Democrats and other opponents?
Justin Trudeau is the only one with an undefeated record (against some tough opponents) Martin Cauchon and Joyce Murray have each won three times at the federal level, the most of any candidate (If you count Murray’s provincial elections, she’s won four times). Cauchon, though, is the only one to have actual head-to-head competition with NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair and Mulcair smoked him. The others have mixed or no records.
Here’s what I’ve been able to pull together from various sources but mostly from Elections Canada (all corrections gratefully accepted and indeed some have chipped it with some corrections and updates — see comments below)
- Narrowly won a tough battle in the Montreal riding of Papineau in 2007 just to win the nomination.
- In the 2008 general election, though the Liberals fared poorly nationally, Trudeau was one of just three Liberals to beat an incumbent. He narrowly beat Bloc Quebecois incumbent Vivien Barbot by about 1,200 votes. (17,724 for Trudeau to 16,535 for Barbot). (Other Liberals beating incumbents that year: Scott Andrews beat Conservative Fabian Manning in Avalon; Gerard Kennedy beat New Democrat Peggy Nash in Parkdale-High Park; and Alexandra Mendes beat BQ Marcel Lussier in Brossard-La Prairie. Technically, Bonnie Crombie beat an incumbent in Mississauga-Streetsville but that was Wajid Khan, elected as a Liberal in 2006 but then he crossed the floor and ran as a Tory in 2008) Only Andrews and Trudeau are still in the House of Commons.
- In the 2011 general election, while the Orange Wave was sweeping Quebec, Trudeau — in his largely working class riding – increased his plurality winning with 16,429 compared to 12,102 for the NDP candidate and 11,091 for the BQ’s Barbot.
- Undefeated in general elections – 2 for 2 but gets an extra half point for winning a real nomination fight.
- First ran in Outremont in 1988 and lost.
- Ran and won in Outremont in the general elections of 1993, 1997, and 2000.
- Did not run in 2004, 2006, or 2008.
- Tried a comeback in the 2011 general election in Outremont and got smoked by Mulcair. Mulcair (who, at the time of the vote, was simply the lone Quebec NDP MP incumbent and not yet leader of his party) got 56.4% of the vote which was a big improvement at Cauchon’s expense, up from 39% in the 2008 general election. Cauchon was way, way back with just 23.4% of the vote in the riding. In the same riding in 2008, another Liberal, Sébastien Dhavernas, got 33.1 % of the vote.
- So, overall he’s 3 for 5 in general elections in Outremont.
- Bombed first time his name was on a ballot, losing in Vaudreuil–Soulanges in the 2006 general election to the Bloc Quebecois’ incumbent Meili Faille by more than 9,000 votes. (More than 62,000 votes cast). That riding, on Montreal’s western outskirts, has since come back into the federalist fold and is now represented by the NDP’s Jamie Nicholls.
- Garneau then tried to get the nod in the riding of Westmount Ville-Marie. When then-leader Stephane Dion couldn’t make up his mind, Garneau threatened to pack it in. He eventually got the nod in the riding from Dion who gave it to him without making him win a nomination fight. The riding has been Liberal ever since it was created in 1997. Its main predecessor riding Saint-Henri—Westmount was never anything but Liberal between 1968 and 1997. Most political observers would say that this (and perhaps Mount Royal) is about as safe as it gets for a Liberal in Quebec and possibly in the country.
- Garneau won in 2008.
- In 2011, Garneau barely survived the Orange Wave, beating the NDP challenger by less than 700 votes (more than 41,000 votes were cast) in 2011. By comparison, he won by more than 9,000 votes in 2008.
- Overall 2 for 3.
- Started out in provincial politics as a B.C. Liberal and, in 2001, was the first B.C. Liberal to win in New Westminster in 49 years. Became a cabinet minister to Premier Gordon Campbell.
- Lost her job as an MLA in 2005 to Chuck Puchmayr — a BC New Democrat.
- Elected to the House of Commons in a March 2008 by-election squeaker, beating Conservative Deborah Meredith by 151 votes (10,155 to 10,004) in Vancouver-Quadra. Quadra had been held by the Liberals since 1984.
- Meredith has come back for more twice since then but Murray has got the best of her in both the 2008 and 2011 general elections winning by abotu 5,000 and 2,000 votes respectively each time.
- Overall, 3 for 3 at the federal level but 1 for 2 at the provincial level.
Martha Hall Findlay
- Lost in her first crack at the House of Commons by losing in the 2006 general election to Belinda Stronach (then running as a Conservative) in Newmarket-Aurora.
- Won in Willowdale in the same March 2008 byelections that brought Joyce Murray to the House of Commons. Willowdale had been held by the Liberals since 1988.
- Won in the 2008 general election.
- Lost in the 2011 general election to Conservative Chungsen Leung.
- Overall, 2 for 4.
- Ran and lost to Conservative Royal Galipeau in the 2011 general election in Ottawa-Orleans.
- 0 for 1.
- Ran and lost to NDP Leader Jack Layton in the 2006 general election on Toronto-Danforth.
- 0 for 1.
- Ran and lost to Conservative Gordon O’Connor in the riding of Carleton-Mississippi Mills in the 2011 general election.
- 0 for 1
- Never had his name on a ballot.