Marc Garneau is running to lead the Liberal Party of Canada and he doesn’t plan to come in second place.
In an interview with The Guardian Monday, Garneau said he is confident he is gaining momentum as the race goes on.
“I intend to win this race,” he said.
Garneau was in Charlottetown for a brief campaign tour during which he planned to visit the Atlantic Veterinary College, attend two Liberal functions and catch Premier Robert Ghiz’s state of the province address.
All of those stops came after he caught a red-eye flight from Vancouver where he took part in the party’s leadership debate Sunday and faced off against his eight opponents in his bid to lead the party.
Garneau was the third Liberal leadership hopeful to visit Charlottetown, along with MP Justin Trudeau and B.C. lawyer Alex Burton, who later dropped out of the race.
When it comes to his own campaign, Garneau said his focus is on the economy because Canadians are worried about jobs and being able to have a secure retirement.
“They’re not the only concerns but they’re the major concerns,” he said.
Garneau said Canada needs to focus on its knowledge-based economy and there are opportunities for young entrepreneurs who need some help. Part of his platform involves tax incentives to help stimulate investments and to help employees upgrade their skills.
“We have an enormous amount of talent in this country yet we’re not getting the maximum benefit of it and the federal government can help there,” he said.
Garneau, a high profile Liberal MP from the Quebec riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie, is seen by many as one of the frontrunners in the leadership race. He has the name recognition from his days as an astronaut where he was the first Canadian in space and he has served as an MP since 2008, including a stretch as the Liberal house leader.
Garneau said people know he has a proven track record, which includes his time as president of the Canadian Space Agency where he managed a $300-million annual budget.
His record of service to Canada matters a lot when it comes to people choosing a leader who can best take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, he said.
“I think people realize the leadership skills are going to be particularly important for that because both Stephen Harper and Thomas Mulcair are big boys.”
Along with his focus on the economy, Garneau has also spoken out in support of electoral reform and a change to preferential ballots that would allow voters to rank their preferences on election day.
Garneau said it would give elected MPs a stronger endorsement from their riding and it’s a system other jurisdictions use.
“The point is we all agree that we should be more fairly represented in the House of Commons and I think this preferential ballot is a good way to go,” he said.
Although Trudeau is one of the candidates garnering much of the attention related to the leadership race, he and Garneau aren’t the only ones running.
Some past leadership contests have left the party divided as different factions struggled for control and Garneau said all Liberals realized that past fractures have hurt the party.
“We understand that message very very clearly,” he said.
By nature leadership races have people competing against each other, but everyone involved understands the party can’t afford deep divisions, Garneau said.
“I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”