Leadership hopeful wants to reconnect Liberals with voters
As the official start of the federal Liberal leadership contest draws nearer, Deborah Coyne is hitting the road.
The Toronto-based leadership hopeful stopped in Kamloops on Thursday, Oct. 11, during a provincial tour of B.C. and the Yukon.
"I'm doing it entirely by car," she told KTW between meetings with the Kamloops-West Rotary club and local Liberal supporters.
"I do feel it's important to get outside the major cities because my platform is 'One Canada for all Canadians.' It's getting back to engaging Canadians, having a national government that will engage us."
A former lawyer and professor at the University of Toronto Law School, Coyne, 57, has worked for the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the Canadian Immigration and Refugee board and is now an independent public-policy consultant.
In 2006, she ran for the Liberals in Toronto-Danforth — Jack Layton's riding — and finished second.
She also has a connection to another leadership contender. Coyne was romantically involved with former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and her daughter is Justin Trudeau's half-sister.
The younger Trudeau announced his own bid for party leadership in September.
Coyne said she wants to see the Liberal party focus its energies on coming up with clear national policies and re-establishing an identity with voters.
"If you ask someone in the street, 'Who's a Conservative?' they'll say, 'Oh yeah, we know what a Conservative is, we know what an NDP is.' The Liberals, not so much. People just don't have a sense any more of what we're up to," she said.
"I really think this is a tipping point. The Liberal party — as well as the country — we have to get back to talking about the nation and what role the federal government plays in that and get people back off the sidelines."
Coyne sees the federal government as having more of a co-ordinating role, getting the provinces working together to provide similar services and enact comparable regulations across the country.
For instance, she'd like to see home care play a greater role in health care, but said there's no incentive for one province to take the lead on the issue under the current government.
"If, all of a sudden, you say in B.C. it's an essential service and people are struggling, you'd better believe a lot of people will be moving into B.C.," she said.
"I've seen people want to move from Nova Scotia to Ontario or Ontario to Alberta to access services they need. I think that's wrong. We obviously can't have identical, but we should at least have comparable, services."
While the leadership race officially begins on Nov. 14, Coyne isn't the only candidate already on the stump.
David Bertschi, an Ottawa lawyer, and Alex Burton, a Vancouver Crown prosecutor, are also touring the country in advance of the start date.
The Liberal Party of Canada will choose a new leader at its convention in Ottawa on April 14, 2013. The leadership race was prompted by the resignation of former leader Michael Ignatieff, who lost his seat in the May 2011 federal election.