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banner photo croppped from one of my snaps from the Liberal Leadership Sowcase Event in Toronto April 6, 2013

Problem for the Leadership Candidates: Bob Rae had the stage before them.

After the opening ceremonies, Paul Martin paid tribute to Bob Rae.

Paul Martin tribute to Bob Rae

He was 12 years old when he first met Bob, and was 10 years older than Bob. Apparently, from the attempted discussion of world politics that day, Paul did not think much of Bob's interest in, or aptitude for politics—but he grew up!

According to Paul Martin, and endorsed via the cheers of affection from the audience, Bob Rae was not just a great interim leader, but will be recognized as one of the great leaders of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Bob Rae

Bob has talked so often about Liberal Values and the Liberal Movement, and is so comfortably articulate that he needs no script, gives no hint of any rehearsal, and immediately connects with each member of the audience in the manner of a good friend.

It is ironic that many of us would put Bob as first, even our only choice for leader if we could, yet it was because of his strong leadership sensibility and that he decided he could not, and should not, run.

wide view of stage at the Liberal showcase

So the leadership candidates, each escorted by their band of cheerleaders, took their turns on stage to woo us. Not one of them was able to wow us, but they performed well.

Deb Coyne

Deborah Coyne, the first to speak, turned her speech at the end into something more like a concession speech. She seemed to be saying "I will not win the leadership race, but I want a crack at becoming a member of parliament with a position of influence.

Karen McCrimmon

Karen McCrimmon dismissed the podium and gave a lively briefing on her leadership qualities while pacing the stage. Perhaps she is a long shot, but she is clearly willing to win.

Karen, of course, is unassailable by Conservative attack advertisements. Attack a woman and a veteran from the forces? Just let them try!

Joyce Murray

Joyce Murray gave a solid presentation, convincing the audience of her experience in politics and dedication to the task of bringing the environment fully into the equation for sound policy development. She provided the best explanation I have heard so far of her approach to a one time cooperation with the Green Party and NDP to defeat Harper and establish proportional representation. But it still raises many questions and doubts, so it seems to weaken her bid for leadership.

Martha Hall Findlay

Martha Hall Findlay gave one of the best speeches. Well crafted, well delivered, with touches of humour and interaction with her supporters, the speech was worthy of a leader. I think she probably got many to consider moving her higher in their list. It is a shame that she let her opinion that supply management should be abolished become a defining feature in her campaign for some voters.

Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau, of course, had a large and noisy troop following him to the stage. He did the job he had to do and got the cheers for it. What I found a little sad was that when he said some of the same things, maybe somewhat more histrionically, that others had said in their speeches, and for which they received modest applause, Justin had ecstatic cheers.

But Justin put the work in. He travelled the country talking, listening and shaking hands. This kind of reaction to celebrity has got a few more people interested in politics and brought in some needed money for the party, so it is probably not useful to lament so.

Martin Cauchon

Martin Cauchon gave one of the best speeches of the day. I enjoyed it the most in part because I had not heard him talk like that before. He is considered a long shot, but he has the experience, and the heart to do a good job as leader, and he can certainly deliver a strong, substantial address. He spoke like a fighter who couldn't wait to get into the ring with PM Harper. Well good luck to him.

Quite a few of the Justin fans will have missed Martin's speech. Although most people stayed until the end, there was a noticeable exit of supporters after Justin had spoken. I wonder if they will even bother to provide a second or third choice when they vote.

At the time of uploading, I have yet to decide on my first choice.