Rothenburger: Trudeau, Marchand just might ride again

The executive of the Kamloops federal Liberal association met Wednesday to talk about the 2015 election. My guess is they were in a pretty good mood.

For one thing, the party has a new, young, attractive leader who can win. As the Tory attack ads are saying, Justin Trudeau has a famous last name. But, like his father Pierre, he also has charisma and staying power.

Kamloops Liberals can once again envision sending an MP to Ottawa, something that hasn't happened since Len Marchand represented the riding. Marchand swept past the iconic Tory incumbent Davie Fulton in 1968 on a wave of Trudeaumania, becoming the first status Indian elected to the House of Commons.

In these parts, more than a few Liberals see magic in the making with the potential resurrection of a Trudeau-Marchand one-two punch.

Len Marchand Jr. has long been regarded as an almost unbeatable candidate, if only he could be talked into running. The son of the revered former MP and senator running for a party led by the son of the legendary prime minister would be a dream team in local political terms.

One longtime Conservative told me recently Cathy McLeod wouldn't stand a chance in such a scenario. It's true that this particular Conservative isn't a big fan of the Harper brand of Conservatism, but it's a bold statement.

Len Jr. has more than good genes and good looks going for him. He impresses people. He's an accomplished public speaker. He has a highly successful law career, especially in aboriginal issues. He'd be a fairly sure bet for a cabinet post, something else Kamloops hasn't seen since Len Sr. was in Ottawa.

"We would certainly welcome his running, there's no doubt about that," riding vice-president Don Graham told me this week. Beyond that, he would say little - party organizers don't like to talk about potential nominees until they commit.

What does Len Jr. say? "I'm not thinking about that right now. A lot goes into a decision like that."

And, he added, "Two years is a long way away. Lots can change."

Len Jr., though, shares the excitement building around the young Trudeau. "I like his values. He has a very good energy about him."

There's a sort of urban legend that little Len Jr. and Justin used to play together in the halls of the Parliament Buildings while their fathers ran the business of the country, and that the two are still pals. It wasn't quite like that - for one thing, Len Jr. is several years older than Justin Trudeau, though they did meet as kids.

Today, they're "acquaintances at best," he says.

Who, though, could deny the political appeal of a reunion of two names with such history? In the past several elections, the Liberals' share of the vote in Kamloops has steadily eroded. Even popular City councillor John O'Fee couldn't win the seat for them when he ran in 2004. In 2011, Murray Todd barely topped five per cent.

Oct. 19, 2015 does seem like a long way off. Plenty of time for Kamloops Liberals to ponder the possibility of seeing the names Trudeau and Marchand on campaign signs once again.

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