Crashing the Party

Local Liberal seeks to shake up the party by running for the leadership

  • Shane Geschiere, a 32-year-old psychology student at the University of Manitoba, wants to run for the leadership of the federal Liberal party. The only problem? The $100,000 price tag to throw his name into the hat. – Supplied

A 32-year-old Winnipeg student believes he can bring a new energy to Canadian politics by running for the federal Liberal leadership.

Shane Geschiere, a psychology student at the University of Manitoba with a B.A. in sociology and criminal justice from the University of Winnipeg, believes a young leader like himself could revitalize the party by breaking the mould set by “middle-aged politicians.”

“I will bring a new face to politics and the Liberal party,” said Geschiere.

“A fresh new energy, a person who considers education, childcare and seniors as important because all of these matter to me directly. I am the complete opposite of what you always see, the same old, middle-aged politicians.”

A political neophyte, Geschiere worked for seven years as a paramedic and is the father of two young children. Rather than seeing his youth and relatively recent interest in politics as a handicap,

A fresh new energy, a person who considers education, childcare and seniors as important because all of these matter to me directly. I am the complete opposite of what you always see, the same old, middle-aged politicians.

Shane Geschiere

Geschiere believes that as leader, he could be able to energize those who have tuned out federal politics.

However, Geschiere’s run may be moot if the entrance fee for the race is close to where it was pegged in 2006. During the frenetic contest of that year, when Stephane Dion surprised frontrunners Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff by winning the leadership, the fee was set at $100,000.

Although not likely to be that high in 2013, when the leadership rally will be held, there is a strong possibility it will be in the neighbourhood of $50,000.
Geschiere believes setting such an amount would be unfair.

“While I understand the principle behind the fee (weeding out candidates who are not serious), I don’t agree with the past amounts,” he said. “The same message could be sent at a lower rate. In comparison, the NDP leadership fee was $15,000. The huge fee is the only thing that would keep me from being on the ballot in 2013.”

Sarah Bain, director of communications for the Liberal Party of Canada, notes matters that are not included in the party constitution, like the entrance fee, are decided by the party board.

“When the leadership vote process begins, the entrance fee will be announced by the board,” she said.

Bain also notes the democratic nature of the board, where members are elected by delegates at biennial conventions.

Bain suggests party members, including Geschiere, are able to consult board members or even run for the board itself if they wish to see a particular issue, such as a lowering of the entrance fee, addressed.

Dr. Joan Grace, a politics professor at the University of Winnipeg, believes lowering the entrance fee for the race will serve to open up the field and make it more accessible.

“It will open it up to those who are not your usual suspects in political parties and it is a good thing for parties to renew themselves with fresh blood and new faces,” she said.

Published in Volume 66, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 7, 2012)

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