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B.C. MP will be first western contender for federal Liberal race

FILE PHOTO: Liberal MP Joyce Murray stands during question period in the House of Commons Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Friday, November 18, 2011.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Former B.C. environment minister Joyce Murray, now one of two remaining Liberal MPs in British Columbia, will enter the race to lead the federal party on Monday.

The Vancouver-Quadra MP would be the first candidate from the western Liberal caucus to make a bid for the leadership of the party. She is entering the race as remarks by Justin Trudeau and Ontario MP David McGuinty have raised questions about the party's commitment to Alberta, in particular, and the West in general.

Federal Liberals have since been rushing to restate the party's respect for western issues. Former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin, during an interview in Vancouver last week, said he expected there was a good chance a Liberal from the West would enter the race. As prime minister, Mr. Martin made it a priority to try and bolster Liberal support in B.C.

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Ms. Murray will launch her campaign with a news conference in Ottawa, and spell out the particulars of her pitch to members of the third-place party in Parliament, which will be choosing a successor to interim leader Bob Rae at a convention in Ottawa next April 14.

Ms. Murray, 58, will be touting her business experience – she and her husband launched a reforestation company in 1979 that has done business across the country – as well as her experience in government.

In 2001, she was elected a Liberal member of the B.C. legislature from New Westminster, and spent three years as Minister of Water, Land and Air Protection, then a year as Minister of Management Services. Political scientist Norman Ruff of the University of Victoria recalled Ms. Murray as "committed" to her work in environment, in particular, but said she may have lacked clout because she held the post before then-premier Gordon Campbell "turned green" and embraced such measures as a carbon tax.

In 2005, she was defeated by an NDP candidate. In 2006, she was defeated in a bid for a federal seat in New Westminster-Coquitlam. However, she made the jump to federal politics in 2008 when she won Vancouver-Quadra, previously represented by such MPs as John Turner and Stephen Owen, in a by-election.

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