Liberal competitors agree on host of issues
For two competitors going head-to-head in the race for leadership of the federal Liberal party, Martha Hall Findlay and Karen McCrimmon agree an awful lot.
Talking the cost of purchasing and maintaining a squad of F-35 fighter planes — which the federal government has backed away from since it was pegged at about $45 billion — the two practically finish each other’s sentences.
“I don’t know when Canada became a stealth-fighting attack country,” said Hall Findlay, who served as an MP in Toronto’s Willowdale riding before losing the seat in the 2011 election and who ran unsuccessfully for party leadership in 2006.
McCrimmon, a retired lieutenant-colonel and the first female commander of a Canadian Forces air squadron, chimed in that she doesn’t feel the plane is the right fit for the Canadian military.
For one thing, she would prefer something with a second engine.
“I’d like some redundancy in my electrical system as well. I’d like an airplane that’s compatible with air-to-air refueling. I’d like an airplane that can get into some of the shorter strips in the Arctic — and the F-35 can do none of that,” she said.
“Isn’t it ever great that she knows this stuff?” Hall Findlay said with a grin, pulling her competitor into a one-armed hug.
Both women also envision a more inclusive Liberal party that creates equal opportunities for Canadians.
McCrimmon champions social housing while Hall Findlay stumps for universal day care.
Both are calling for curbs to what Hall Findlay calls the Conservative government’s “borrow and spend” habits.
However, on some issues, they do differ in approach.
On the subject of fellow candidate Justin Trudeau — who drew a crowd of 600 in Kamloops earlier this week and is considered the favourite to win the Liberal Party of Canada leadership on April 14 in Ottawa — McCrimmon tends toward diplomacy.
“All of the candidates, they are a stellar group of people.
“But, we all have our own individual set of competencies and experiences and strength and skills,” she said.
With the leadership vote open to any Canadian without a membership in another federal party, McCrimmon estimates about 23-million people can cast a ballot.
“Canadians have to decide which set is the set we need right now,” she said.
Hall Findlay is more blunt in her assessment.
“How many people do you think would have come if Justin Bieber had shown up?” she asked, referencing Trudeau’s Kamloops event.
“I’m sorry — actually, I’m not sorry.
“This is a fact we are facing in this leadership race.
“Substance, experience, intelligence and courage — not celebrity.
“Justin has all sorts of other qualities but, when you look at the substance and experience and background of some of the other candidates . . . you want that stuff.”
Hall Findlay and McCrimmon are two of nine candidates in the field to become the Liberal party’s new leader.
In addition to Trudeau, candidates David Bertschi and Deborah Coyne have both made previous stops in Kamloops.
The remaining candidates are Joyce Murray, Marc Garneau, Martin Cauchon and George Takach.