Yahoo! Exclusive: Martha Hall Findlay calls out Murray, Trudeau in final days of leadership campaign

·Politics Reporter

There's something refreshing about Liberal leadership candidate Martha Hall Findlay.

The former MP from Ontario is running in her second leadership contest and this time isn't pulling any punches — she's one who speaks her mind and doesn't rely on pre-conceived talking points.

In a recent interview with Yahoo! Canada News, she took exception to Joyce Murray's idea of cooperation with the other 'progressive parties' and called-out Justin Trudeau — again — for not talking policy.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

Y! Canada: Most of us in the media are convinced that the race is over, that Justin Trudeau is going to win. Do you think you can still win the leadership?

Hall Findlay: I’m pretty sure most of you in the media were convinced that Justin was going to win 6 months ago.

So are you ready to concede that Trudeau is going to win the leadership?

Hall Findlay: Of course not. Why would I concede that?

Whatever happens on April 14th — if I, either as leader or as a voice, can ensure that the Liberal party maintain [our] reputation [from the 1990s]…that marrying of parallel goals of economic responsibility, fiscal prudence, environmental sustainability, social justice, equality of opportunity — all those things; if my being in this race and if my voice…helped maintain that, then I will have accomplished what I needed to do.

What’s your opinion of the leadership process this time around? Has the supporter class experiment worked?

Hall Findlay: We have a 130 [thousand] people registered to vote. Regardless of what we started with, that’s a huge number and that’s terrific.

I will point out that [the media were] terribly impressed by the announcement of 150,000 supporters having been signed-up by the Justin Trudeau campaign. You weren't terribly noticing when only 30,000 of those actually got registered by the initial registration date. And that over 100,000 did not have email address which is pretty critical in 2013. So it has been mixed for sure.

I will also say that I am very concerned that…there are quite a few [supporters] who are not Liberal — who are NDP or Green — who have signed up to support this idea of cooperation.

And that has me very troubled because last time I checked I’m running for the Liberal Party of Canada.

[ Last week's One-On-One: B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix finds common ground with Stephen Harper ]

Did you read the Hill Times story from last week, where Liberal MPs were attacking you for your critique of Joyce Murray’s plan of cooperation with the progressive parties?

Hall Findlay: I mean are you kidding me, really? I’ll let you comment on it.

I am very concerned about this proposal. I’m very concerned about what it means for the Liberal Party of Canada.

Do the math. Right now we’re in third place. A long distance third place. And the NDP have a lot more seats than we do. Even if such a pre-election [strategy] were to work, it would replace Stephen Harper with Thomas Mulcair.

I’m a Liberal. I am not a NDP. I think that’s just a bad idea.

With regard to Trudeau: You have made some comments about his defence of the middle class while others have questioned whether or not he has presented enough policy in this leadership race. What’s your opinion on that: Has he put forward enough policy ideas?

Hall Findlay: No.

He was quoted in the Globe and Mail three days ago…saying a ‘campaign is not the place to discuss economic policy.’ Do any of us remember Kim Campbell?

That’s the problem with this campaign is that everyone has treated it as a done deal…'why bother talking about these issues.' My view is we absolutely need to talk about these issues.

[ Related: Murray emerges as primary challenger to Trudeau ]

How do the Liberals get back to where they were? How do they get back into power, in your opinion?

Hall Findlay: ‘It’s the economy stupid.’

Stephen Harper has won the last several elections, not because he’s a charming guy…and not because of his hair.

He has won because he has run fundamentally on economic issues, on issues that relate to Canadians and their pocketbooks. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with what’s happened, but he has run on economic issues knowing that the first and most important issue facing Canadians right now is the economy. People want jobs, they want their kids to have jobs.

Of course we want equality of opportunity, that’s why I’m running. That’s why I advocate for things like universal day care…that’s why I talk about the need for a national affordable housing a strategy. I’m a Liberal. We of course want these things.

But the only way we win in 2015 is if we provide an alternative that understands the economy, understands that that’s the first issue facing Canadians.

[ Related: Money haul suggests fight for second between Murray and Hall Findlay ]

Martha Hall Findlay's platform and policy ideas are available at her website here.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.