Liberal leadership candidate to speak in Nanaimo

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Deborah Coyne is in Nanaimo today to speak to local party members, supporters and the general public.

Federal Liberal leadership candidate Deborah Coyne is in Nanaimo Thursday (Oct. 25) to speak to local party members, supporters and the general public.

Coyne is the first candidate to visit Nanaimo, said Beth Wood, vice-president of the Nanaimo-Alberni Federal Liberal Riding Association, but she expects more to come to the Harbour City – the leadership race officially begins Nov. 14, with voting to take place next April.

“We’re hoping to host all of them,” she said.

Coyne is a long-time Liberal, lawyer, university professor, constitutional activist, writer and mother of two children. She was an active participant in the constitutional debates on the Meech Lake and Charlottetown accords.

“She’s a pretty accomplished woman,” said Wood.

So far, Coyne, Justin Trudeau and Alex Burton, a Vancouver lawyer, have put their names in the hat for the leadership race, but more are expected to do so before the Nov. 14 deadline, said Wood.

What is new for this Liberal leadership race is that supporters will be able to vote on the new leader as well as members.

Wood said party members decided on this new approach at the Liberal convention last January. People are able to sign up as supporters, which means they don’t have to pay a membership fee, as long as they are at least 18 years of age, are not a member of another political party and are eligible to vote in federal elections.

“So far the party has signed up over 30,000 supporters across Canada and in B.C., about 3,500,” she said, adding that the Nanaimo-Alberni and Nanaimo-Cowichan riding associations have each signed up about 75 supporters.

Wood said anyone is welcome to come to the meet and greet with Coyne, which takes place at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre’s Shaw Lobby from 6-8 p.m. tonight.

The event is jointly hosted by the two local riding associations.