TORONTO - Two high-profile journalists won the right Sunday afternoon to compete to be Bob Rae's replacement as the MP for Toronto Centre.
The nomination fights in the riding were interesting enough but the battle to come in the byelection yet to be called will be a fascinating preview of the struggle we'll see on the political left in this country in the years leading up to the 2015 general election as New Democrats and Liberals jockey for the right to sell themselves as the one, true alternative to Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
For Thomas Mulcair's New Democrats, former Toronto Star columnist Linda McQuaig will carry the NDP flag and, for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, former Globe and Mail editor Chrystia Freeland was the winner.
The riding has been Liberal since 1993 and the New Democrats have never held it.
And while the Liberals are still the presumptive favourites to hold the riding, both Liberals and New Democrats believe the McQuaig versus Freeland fight to be a Battle Royale.
"The upcoming byelection in Toronto Centre is really going to be a bellwether as Canadians contemplate who can best lead this country in the post-Harper era," McQuaig said in a rabble-rousing, tub-thumping speech to nearly 400 New Democrats packed into a hot standing-room only auditorium at a downtown YMCA here.
Not surprisingly, McQuaig thinks Freeland, Trudeau and the Liberals stand only for more of the same.
"Freeland presents herself as a progressive ... but her writings reveal that she regards rising income inequality as inevitable, as something we really can't do anything about," McQuaig said. "I strongly disagree with that and, in my writings, I've demonstrated that rising inequality is not inevitable. Rather it's the direct result of the right-wing economic policies embraced by the Conservatives and the Liberals."