Liberal leadership hopeful Martha Hall Findlay says substance, not celebrity, is what the Liberal party needs to win the next election.
Hall Findlay was in Prince Edward Island Monday, travelling to coffee shops across the western part of the province and meeting with Islanders to make her pitch for the leadership of the federal Liberal party.
In an interview with The Guardian, Hall Findlay said she believes she has more substance and experience than her fellow candidates, comparing herself to former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna.
“There are no silver bullets here, and despite the temptation, and I know that there are a lot of people who look at us and say, ‘We need to find the answer,’” she said.
“But I use as my example, I think a much more solid and real example, is what Frank McKenna did in New Brunswick.”
She described McKenna’s two years of hard work building major support for the provincial party in the 1980s as the kind of work that now needs to be done federally.
Hall Findlay also pointed to the last two Liberal leaders, Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff, saying one of the reasons she believes they were unsuccessful was due to smear campaigns by the Harper Conservatives.
“The best way to withstand that is with that substance and that solid, substantive experience that actually will do what we need to do for the next couple of years and be able to withstand what we’re undoubtedly going to get,” she said.
“Stephen Harper’s not going to be able to attack me on those things because I have that substance and that background that I bring to the table.”
But going into the final weeks of the campaign, Hall Findlay is not considered as much a frontrunner as Quebec MP Justin Trudeau, who was being credited Monday with having signed up as many as 150,000 supporters for the leadership vote.
Hall Findlay has garnered criticism for remarks she has made about Trudeau’s lack of experience and well-heeled upbringing.
She said Monday she was surprised by the reaction she received from these comments.
“I would never criticize anybody over things they can’t control,” she said.
“But it is fair game to say what has somebody done in their life, what experience do they bring to the table … Celebrity is celebrity, but that’s not what is going to take the party forward.”
As for Trudeau’s 150,000 supporters, Hall Findlay believes each one of those potential votes is still up for grabs.
“I can’t stress enough, a week can be a lifetime in politics and over the next five weeks every single one of the people who has signed up as a supporter isn’t committed to any campaign. They are completely free to vote for whoever they decide is the right person, starting April 6.”
Hall Findlay will be in Charlottetown and Stratford this morning for more coffee shop meetings.