A worthy challenger
Penny Collenette’s decision not to run in the next federal election is Ottawa’s loss.
She lost her last attempt to win a federal seat, not because of any failings on her part or that of her campaign, but because she chose to run in Ottawa Centre, which always attracts a competitive field of candidates and is ably represented by NDP MP Paul Dewar.
Collenette has scoliosis, and says she found it difficult to keep healthy during the last election. Her doctors recently recommended extensive physiotherapy, so she says she won’t be able to run again.
Collenette would have been a strong candidate for Michael Ignatieff’s Liberal team. She’s the kind of person who, within a few minutes, can make everyone in the room feel a personal connection with her. She earned her law degree at 37, was a senior adviser to Jean Chrétien, and now teaches at the University of Ottawa.
Yes, she has been a Liberal party organizer for years, but she’s widely acknowledged to be a far more substantial person than the average backroom operator.
Apart from Ottawa Centre and a few other high-profile ridings, the calibre of candidates in the region can be uneven. Some incumbents run effectively unopposed against ill-prepared challengers. Collenette stood out in the last election as one of the most promising new faces.
Even though she would have a hard time dislodging Dewar were she to run again in Ottawa Centre, it’s a shame to lose her. Perhaps one day she’ll be ready to try again. In the meantime, there’s plenty of work she can do to make politics in Ottawa better. Young politicians—especially young female politicians—couldn’t ask for a better mentor.
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen
Penny is a frequent public policy commentator on national television. During the 2011 federal election, Penny was a commentator for Global TV. Penny tweets @penottawa.
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