As part of our continuing Leadership Campaign 09 coverage we will be attempting to interview (or at least ask questions of) all our leadership hopefuls. Some candidates will be more accessible.
Tonight we had the opportunity to meet with Dominic LeBlanc, the young, dynamic, and very polished MP from Beausejour.
Mr. LeBlanc met with a crowd of roughly 150 (perhaps more) Liberals from Greater Vancouver. The Venue (the Backstage Lounge at the Arts Theatre on Granville Island) was well-suited to the meeting. It appears a smaller back room was originally selected for the meeting, but the entire venue quickly filled up with Liberals eager to learn more about this interesting young man.
There were plenty of "pro bueno" libations available, and the mood was upbeat. Looking around the crowd, I was quite aware of a very eclectic mix of folks - meaning people from a variety of different leadership camps from 06, 04, and even 93. This type of thing is always good for the party. One of my table-mates worked for Ignatieff. The woman at my left was not an active Liberal. Okay, okay, she was my girlfriend... Good cross-section of people too - young, old, and older, different cultures.
Mr. LeBlanc gave a rousing talk about party renewal, the road ahead, what the party needs, etc. He cracked a pretty good joke about the Metro Toronto book-club. He was interrupted by applause a few times. He seemed to have a pretty good feel for the crowd... and the crowd for him. He made a point of being "in it for the long-haul" - talking about the next election, and the one after that...
We asked Mr. LeBlanc a couple of pretty straight-up questions:
1) While winning the leadership of the party is one thing, what would he do to win over the "Joe Plumbers" and "Joe Six-packs" of Canada?
2) While it is a complex question requiring a complex question, briefly, what would he focus on to tackle the financial crisis?
Dominic - while intending to meet with everyone in the room - took a moment to carefully address both questions. He was quick on his feet, and was able to provide a substantive answer for each question. In a nut-shell he feels that the party has strayed from our "centrist/moderate" path, and we need to work to reclaim the middle ground from the Harper Conservatives - who are pretending to be "moderate". Regarding the financial crisis, Mr. LeBlanc feels that we do need to spend money to grow the industries which will get us out of this crisis. We understood this to mean the "new economy".
We were quite impressed with Mr. LeBlanc, and we look forward to his future visits to Greater Vancouver.
We will continue with this line of questioning for our future discussions with leadership hopefuls, as growing the party in Canada with ordinary Canadians is important - as is the economy. If we are unable to be given the time for a few words, we'll try to piece together their views from their public statements. We will always report on the number and mood of the room.