Marc Garneau enters Liberal leadership race

Marc Garneau. (QMI Agency Files)

Marc Garneau. (QMI Agency Files)

Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

, Last Updated: 12:51 PM ET

OTTAWA - Marc Garneau is betting on substance over flash to become leader of the Liberal Party and open a path to 24 Sussex Dr.

And he wasted no time Wednesday reciting his accomplishments — naval officer, doctorate in electrical engineering, university chancellor and president of the Canadian Space Agency.

The resume reminder was likely intended to mark the contrast to that of Justin Trudeau and his bachelor degrees and high school teaching credentials, or resume versus DNA.

Garneau also became a hero in 1984 when he blasted off with the Space Shuttle Challenger to become the first Canadian in space.

"Yes, I was an astronaut," said Garneau, who has streets and schools named after him.

"But I don't want to be defined by what I did up there," he said pointing skyward. "I want to be defined by who I am inside here," he said, hand on chest.

"I'm talking about real leadership, the kind you learned from a father who served in the military and a grandfather who served before him in World War One...men of discipline and sacrifice and valour."

Garneau, 63, launched his campaign with a blistering critique of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, saying his government has become angry, divisive and intolerant — one that pits region against region and people against people.

"Under Stephen Harper we have returned almost to our colonial past — hewers of wood and drawers of water," he said. "Stephen Harper's government practises the politics of exclusion, the politics of hypocrisy, of deceit."

Garneau acknowledged the Liberals have a lot of work ahead to regain the trust of Canadians.

"Today we Liberals are in a vice. We're being squeezed on the right by Conservatives, we are being squeezed on the left by the NDP.

"To those of you who think we might get crushed, let me says this: Never."

He said the economy is his top priority and accused Conservatives of relying too much on natural resources at the expense of manufacturing, aerospace, biotechnology, green technology and agriculture.

At a later news conference he said he supports the oilsands and once sat on the board of directors of an energy giant.

He also warned New Democrats that he would run 338 Liberals in the next election and wouldn't co-operate with them at the riding level to prevent vote-splitting.

A new leader will be chosen April 14.

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun


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