Liberal Party’s new star candidate launches campaign: Is she the new Ignatieff?

·Politics Reporter

It's official: The Liberals have landed a high-profile candidate to run for nomination in Toronto-Centre — the riding vacated by former interim leader Bob Rae.

Her name is Chrystia Freeland and she is the author of 'Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else' — a book often quoted by Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. She is formerly an editor with the Globe and Mail and most recently a Consumer Editor with Thomson Reuters based out of the United States.

"As the lucky beneficiary of Canadian scholarships, public education and healthcare systems, I owe our country everything," Freeland said in a release to launch her campaign on Tuesday.

"For me, the time is now to put my name in the race to serve the residents of Toronto-Centre and give back to a system that can work to address some of the greatest economic challenges of our time.

"Over the past few years, as I have been working through the issues facing the middle class for my book, I have felt their urgency ever more strongly. Diagnosing the problem is an important first step, but it isn’t enough. Figuring out how to make today’s vast economic transformation work for the middle class is the central political challenge of our time."

Freeland has already attracted some profile supporters. Her campaign co-chairs include the likes of former foreign affairs minister Bill Graham and Liberal MPP Glen Murray.

If she wins the nomination and is a candidate for the Grits in a byelection yet to be called, she could bring some much needed star power into the Liberal caucus.

[ Related: Is the Justin Trudeau honeymoon over? ]

But before she gets there, some pundits are urging caution.

"Freeland is the kind of candidate media and academic elites adore. She has an impressive resume, she’s an intellectual, she attended fancy schools," political consultant Gerry Nicholls told Yahoo! Canada News.

"Yet, as [former Liberal leader] Michael Ignatieff proved such a background doesn’t necessarily make for a good politician. In fact, it can be a detriment.

"Intelligent and ‘book smart’, intellectuals usually lack political savvy and often can’t or won’t communicate to voters on an emotional level. Hence, they can’t relate to voters and voters can’t relate to them."

Apart from her apparent intellect — the pundits and the Twitteverse have been making some other Ignatieff comparisons.

As explained by Maclean's Paul Wells, Freeland has spent most of her adult life living in the United States.

"Freeland left Canada to pursue a post-secondary education and seems since then to have lived here only long enough to serve as [the Globe and Mail's] deputy from 1999 to 2002-ish," he wrote.

Ignatieff, of course, was much maligned by the Conservatives for his ties to the United States. In a series of attack ads, the Tories claimed that he was "just visiting" and that he "didn't come back for you."

In the 2011 election, Ignatieff led the Liberals to its worst showing in the modern era and has since retreated back to the United States to teach at Harvard.

[ Related: Visiting Kosovo foreign minister says Ignatieff writings influenced him ]

Even Liberal insider and Sun News Analyst Warren Kinsella couldn't help to draw comparisons.

"Worldly, academic, author, former journalist, Harvard, even a bit of Russia," he wrote in a post titled 'Toronto Centre, where no one has ever read a history book.'

"What could possibly go wrong?"

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

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