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The Globe and Mail

Martha Hall Findlay to run for federal Liberal leader with campaign team from Redford, Nenshi

Former Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay on March 18, 2008.


Martha Hall Findlay is preparing to jump into the Liberal leadership race and will be supported by the team that helped propel Alberta Premier Alison Redford and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi to power.

Stephen Carter, who was campaign manager for both Mr. Nenshi and Ms. Redford, issued notice Monday that Ms. Hall Findlay would make an announcement in Calgary on Wednesday.

Ms. Hall Findlay is a lawyer, a former Liberal MP who ran unsuccessfully for the Liberal Party leadership in 2006. She is currently an executive fellow at the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.

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When she officially announces her intentions, Ms. Hall Findlay will join Liberal MP Justin Trudeau as one of the two presumed front-runners in the leadership contest that includes five other declared candidates who have never been elected politicians. But Mr. Trudeau's popularity will be a challenge to overcome.

Mr. Carter and his colleagues, who are best known for their work with Conservatives, may seem an odd fit to run a Liberal leadership race. But Mr. Nenshi's campaign was non-partisan and Ms. Redford is more of a centrist than her competition in the Wildrose Alliance.

Although a number of people who helped out on the 2010 Nenshi campaign are currently preoccupied with the by-election in Calgary, some will join Mr. Carter in working for Ms. Hall Findlay. They include the Web designer who managed to capture the attention of large groups of voters with his use of social media.

Mr. Carter said he and his colleagues choose candidates rather than parties when deciding where to put their support. "We make decisions because of the stories that appeal to us, or the personality, or any number of things," he said in a telephone interview with The Globe and Mail.

Ms. Hall Findlay is likely to try to position herself as a candidate with good policy ideas. In June of this year, for instance, she came out heavily against supply management – something that Liberals have traditionally supported.

"It is simply untenable that Canadian families pay upwards of $300 more a year than they need to, for milk alone, let alone higher prices for other products like cheese, yogurt and ice cream, to subsidize a tiny number of relatively well-off farmers," she said in an opinion piece that appeared in The Globe.

That willingness to diverge from traditional Liberal thought may help her stand out in a race where other candidates are likely to be overshadowed by Mr. Trudeau's star power.

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Ms. Hall Findlay has been saying for some time that she is interested in the Liberal leadership, but she was one of four candidates from the 2006 contest who, as late as this summer, still owed money from the campaign of six years ago.

In Ms. Hall Findlay's case, the money was owed to herself. But she said she would not enter the new race without paying off the old one. So she made a huge push for donations and, in mid-October, announced that the debt had been cleared.

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