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It is not surprising that Andrew Leslie is back in the limelight.
During his 35-year career in the Canadian Forces, the former lieutenant-general showcased a knack for speaking in public and grabbing media attention. Whether it was the military mission in Afghanistan or his plan for major cuts at National Defence headquarters, Mr. Leslie always found a way to get his message across.
In 2011, after he left the Forces, Mr. Leslie joined CGI Group Inc. to lead a new Defence, Public Safety and Intelligence unit. He has since left the firm to create his own consulting firm, engaging in public speaking and working on what he calls "cyber-resilience."
However, in the summer of 2012, he started mulling a return into the public sphere. On Wednesday, Mr. Leslie announced he had recently bought a membership card in the Liberal Party of Canada, and was joining Leader Justin Trudeau's newly created "International Affairs Council of Advisors." He will be co-chairing the council alongside Liberal MP Marc Garneau, in the same way that MP Scott Brison is co-chairing an economic council alongside another non-MP, Chrystia Freeland.
Mr. Leslie stated that he was approached by officials from many parties in recent months, and that his goal now was to return to "serving the public." He pointed to his ancestors as he explained his career choices, first off for going into the artillery in the Canadian Forces (like a grandfather, his father and two of his three children) but also Liberal politics, like his father and his two grand-fathers.
"My dad was a great fan of Pierre Trudeau," Mr. Leslie said about Mr. Trudeau's father.
In fact, the bilingual 55-year-old could be forgiven for harbouring even greater ambitions than becoming a defence minister in a Trudeau government. For now, however, he is making it clear that Mr. Trudeau attracted him into the world of politics, and that he will be at his service.
"What I'm focussed on is Justin's leadership, his ability to inspire, to listen, to take in new ideas and then make a decision and achieve consensus," Mr. Leslie said. "Is he the leader of the Liberal Party? Absolutely. Is he a strong leader? Absolutely. And, not surprisingly, I've gotten to know and see a lot of strong leaders. This is the guy that I've chosen to follow."
At this point, Mr. Leslie is planning to run for the Liberal Party in the next election. He pointed out that he lives in the riding of Ottawa-Vanier, but also that he is a friend of the current Liberal MP in the riding, Mauril Bélanger.
If he so wishes, Mr. Leslie could mount a challenge at the upcoming Liberal nomination meeting in the riding, or hope that Mr. Bélanger (first elected in 1995) decides to retire. Mr. Leslie could also decide to run in a nearby riding that is in Conservative hands, such as Ottawa-Orleans or Glengarry-Prescott-Russell.
"I'm an army guy, I've been trained to plan," he said. "You go to step 1, you stop and look around, and then you go, Do I want to go to step 2, and what are the options?"