Marc Garneau to run as Liberal in Westmount-Ville-Marie

Written by  //  October 19, 2007  //  Canada, Politics  //  1 Comment

Marc Garneau, the first Canadian astronaut in space, re-launched his career in federal politics Friday as the Liberal party’s candidate in the Montreal-area riding of Westmount-Ville-Marie.
Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion made the announcement in Montreal, introducing the former head of the Canadian Space Agency as a passionate Canadian whose credentials few can rival.
… Garneau ran for the Liberals last year in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, but observers said he made some rookie political mistakes and lost by about 10,000 votes to a Bloc candidate in the difficult Montreal-area riding.
His chances this time around are much different, as Westmount-Ville-Marie is considered to be one of the safest Liberal strongholds in Canada and Garneau is still considered to be a very popular candidate.
The riding’s incumbent, former cabinet minister Lucienne Robillard, has decided not to seek re-election. More

And from the Westmount Examiner:
Garneau confirmed on local ballo
By Martin C. Barry
In a stunning reversal of a decision he made last month not to seek political office, Marc Garneau, the first Canadian astronaut in space and a Westmount resident, has agreed to be the federal Liberal party’s candidate in Westmount-Ville Marie.
“Few Canadians have assembled a more impressive record of service to their country,” Liberal leader Stéphane Dion said during a press conference at the Atwater Library on Friday.
“Voters in Westmount-Ville Marie, and all Canadians, will undoubtedly benefit from the service, support and leadership Mr. Garneau will provide as a candidate and — in due time — as a Member of Parliament.”
Garneau, 58, first flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1984. He has also been president of the Canadian Space Agency and chancellor of Carleton University in Ottawa. He resigned his position with the space agency to run for the Liberals in Vaudreuil-Soulanges in 2006, but was defeated by 9,200 votes.
Garneau has lived in Westmount for the past seven years with his wife, Pamela, his daughter, Simone, and Adrian, his son. He said he met with executive members of the Westmount-Ville Marie riding association last Friday morning and was “heartened by the fact that they stood with me and gave me their total support.
“I am honoured by the confidence Mr. Dion has shown in me today,” he added. “I look forward to working with him, with our colleagues in the Liberal Party of Canada’s Quebec caucus, and with all Liberals to strengthen and renew our relationship of confidence with voters in Quebec.”
Last month, after months of speculation, Garneau announced that he was no longer interested in politics and would not be seeking the candidacy for Westmount-Ville Marie. Despite his experience in Vaudreuil-Soulanges, at the time he said he remained interested in running in Outremont, but that Dion had told him it was reserved for another candidate, who turned out to be Jocelyn Coulon. Coulon was defeated in a byelection last month.
Last May, Garneau filed nomination papers when Liberal MP Lucienne Robillard announced she would not run again in Westmount-Ville Marie. However, Dion announced less than a week later that he had hand-picked someone else to run, further discouraging Garneau. During the Liberal leadership convention last December, Garneau supported Michael Ignatieff.
Asked by journalists what made him change his mind, Garneau said that after announcing his withdrawal, he got calls from many Liberals asking him to reconsider. “But the thing that really got my attention was when Mr. Dion contacted me last week to ask me to go and meet him,” he said.
“This act of openness and leadership on his part impressed me. We met at his home where we shared a meal and had a chance to talk and I got to know Mr. Dion in a way I had never known him before. It impressed me a lot. He is a man with a vision who will make a good prime minister.
“I felt so motivated by this meeting that I promised him I would reconsider, and after talking it over with my wife, I decided that now was the time to stand up and be heard and to fight for the party, which is party that I love and respect so much because of its values. To sum up, Mr. Dion extended his hand, and I returned the gesture by extending mine.”
Dion was asked why he didn’t allow an open nomination proceeding to take place in Westmount-Ville Marie and why it then took him so long to decide on Garneau. “One of the most difficult duties of a leader is to name a candidate in a riding,” he responded, adding that he put a lot of thought into it and has exercised his option to choose the candidate only a few times.
“Otherwise, I prefer that the ridings decide themselves,” said Dion. “And I am very happy this morning to tell you that (riding association president Brigitte Garceau) and the executive welcomed with great enthusiasm the candidacy of Mr. Garneau.” Dion also denied he ever changed his mind while deciding who would run.
Although not unhappy with the choice of Garneau, Stanley Baker, a former president of the NDG-Lachine Liberal riding association, said he remains displeased with the method used to make the choice. “I would feel much better if there had been a nomination meeting and Mr. Garneau was elected as the candidate for Westmount,” said the de Maisonneuve Boulevard resident.

One Comment on "Marc Garneau to run as Liberal in Westmount-Ville-Marie"

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson October 20, 2007 at 3:53 pm ·

    Saturday, October 20, 2007
    Concise comments on some current topics
    The Gazette

    In some quarters, there is jubilation that Stéphane Dion has relented and
    given the Liberal nomination in Westmount-Ville-Marie, as safe a seat as the Liberals still have, to “star candidate” Marc Garneau.
    But there should be no rejoicing among anglophones, who are once again
    getting the back of the Liberals’ hand. As francophone seats become harder
    for the Liberals to win, the party is giving its anglophone/allophone
    bastions to “star” francophones who can’t win elsewhere. In the 2006
    election, Garneau got just 28 per cent of the vote in Vaudreuil-Soulanges
    Quebec’s non-francophones, fawningly loyal to the Liberal brand, are treated
    in return with disdain bordering on contempt.

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