Since the 1988 federal election when the Progressive Conservatives won their second straight government under the leadership of Brian Mulroney, no party has come close to contending with the Liberals.
In 1993, Jean Chretien led the Liberals back into government and has remained Prime Minister for three straight terms spanning ten years. Chretien recently decided to retire from politics meaning the Liberal Party of Canada will hold a leadership convention in November. The winner of this convention will be named Prime Minister. There are three candidates running for the top spot: Paul Martin, John Manley and Sheila Copps.
Recently, the trio of hopefuls embarked on a cross-country leadership debate tour that included stops in six cities, ending Sat., June 14 in Montreal. When the dust settled, it was obvious that one candidate was far and away the favourite to win: Paul Martin. Recent polls have shown Martin is not only ahead of the competition in the race for the Liberal leadership, but he is also the country's top choice to be the next Prime Minister.
So, why does Paul Martin have so much support while every other candidate has fallen so desperately far behind?
The standard answer is that he faces no opposition. Any time a person takes a commanding lead or knocks off the competition early it is assumed they had no competition. However, this is hardly the case for the upcoming federal election.
The Progressive Conservatives, New Democrats and Canadian Alliance have all elected new party leaders since the last federal election and all have high hopes for their candidates.
As for the Liberal party leadership, both Manley and Copps have been Members of Parliament since the 1980s and both have been Deputy Prime Minister. Manley has also been Minister of Finance, Industry and Foreign Affairs while Copps has been both Environment and Heritage Minister. Paul Martin's competition is obviously quite strong.
So why is it that Paul Martin stands out as the majority's clear choice in this illustrious crowd?
Quite simply, people know what they are getting when they vote for Martin. Also elected as an MP for the first time in the 1980s, Martin has since risen to the status of arguably the most powerful cabinet minister in Canadian history before becoming a backbench MP a year ago.
In 1993, he became Minister of Finance and never looked back. During his time holding the post, Canada recorded five consecutive budget surpluses, erased a $42-billion deficit, paid down more than $36-billion in debt, invested in health care and other key areas and enacted the largest tax cuts in Canadian history. His budgetary prowess earned him international fame as he was named inaugural chair of the G-20, an international group composed of G-7 nations and emerging market nations in September 1999.
Along with his accomplishments, Paul Martin brings a list innovative and fresh initiatives to the table that will advance Canada both domestically and globally. Initiatives to make Western Canada a bigger partner in policy development, to kick-start a new and revitalized era of foreign relations with the US and the rest of the world, to gather waiting list data and work with the provinces to ensure that Canadians can travel to other parts of the country to access health care in a timely fashion if necessary, and to create a new deal with cities that would give them predictable and reliable funding.
Martin vows to lead a dramatically different government with a renewed sense of purpose, far greater consultation and contact with young people and his number one institutional reform is increasing the efficiency of the House of Commons.
Paul Martin has proven himself time and time again in Parliament and Canada is ready to give him a chance to lead the country. He is the only potential candidate that can offer not only an impressive list of accomplishments and leadership in the past but also new policy and innovation for the future. He is experienced and steady while remaining fresh and open to new ideas.
For all these reasons it is clear why Paul Martin has become the early leader in the race for our countries next Prime Minister.