HALIFAX—When Justin Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party back in 2013, it was nothing short of a coronation. He won handily on the first ballot and proceeded to bring the party back to life at perhaps the most vulnerable time in its history. Often referred to as the country’s “natural governing party,” the Liberal machine lost its momentum when the sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s combined with the success of the unite-the-right movement to remove the Liberals from power for nearly a decade. Then-prime minister Stephen Harper governed for three successive terms, as Liberal leaders Stéphane Dion and then Michael Ignatieff let Conservative attack ads define them. Jack Layton and the NDP were making historic gains at the Liberals’ expense and the Greens were emerging as potential player. At that time, it was not inconceivable that the natural governing party would fade into non-existence.
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