Liberal Martha Hall Findlay criticizes Harper's "blind" support for Israel.
OTTAWA - Martha Hall Findlay won't promise to run for the Liberals in the next federal election if she loses her bid to become party leader.
The former Toronto MP would only say Wednesday that she'll see about running when the time comes.
"I might get hit by a truck sometime between now and then. We'll see," she told The Canadian Press.
In the wide-ranging interview, Hall Findlay said she'd be willing to entertain a wealth tax on the richest Canadians, although she wouldn't countenance any tax increase while the economy remains sluggish.
She also said she'd claw back more old age security benefits from relatively well-off seniors.
Hall Findlay also weighed in on the aboriginal protests that have rocked the country, urging police to do their jobs to break up illegal demonstrations and calling on Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence to end her month-long hunger protest.
Hall Findlay is one of six leadership contenders who currently have no seat in the House of Commons. Only three — Justin Trudeau, Marc Garneau and Joyce Murray — are sitting MPs.
She won the Toronto riding of Willowdale in a 2008 byelection and was re-elected in a general election later that year. But she lost to Conservative Chungson Leung in the 2011 election, when the Liberals were reduced to a third-party rump with only 34 seats.
Should she win the leadership, Hall Findlay said it "would not be the preference" to remain out of the Commons for an extended period. But precisely how and when she'd find a seat would "have to be determined at the time."
Ideally, she'd "love to run again in Willowdale" but she acknowledged Leung is unlikely to step aside to accommodate her.
Former prime ministers Brian Mulroney and Jean Chretien were elected leader of the Conservatives and Liberals respectively, without having a seat. In each case, they persuaded one of their sitting MPs to step aside temporarily, allowing the leader to run in a byelection in a safe riding.
That could prove more difficult for the next Liberal leader since there are so few sitting Liberal MPs and even fewer ridings that could be deemed safe for the party.
Still, Liberals may feel it's less urgent for the new leader to be in the Commons, since there is so much work to be done rebuilding the party across the country.
Trudeau, eldest son of late Liberal icon Pierre Trudeau, is widely perceived to have a huge lead over his eight rival contenders, including Hall Findlay, who was first off the ballot in the party's 2006 leadership contest.
Hall Findlay did not dispute the perception that Justin Trudeau is the prohibitive favourite but she maintained the reality on the ground is somewhat different. In her opinion, former cabinet minister Martin Cauchon, who joined the contest just before the deadline Sunday, would not have taken the plunge had he thought Trudeau had it wrapped up.
"We're not naive. We know that (Trudeau) came out of the gate absolutely the front-runner with a huge amount of ... media attention. That, in and of itself, creates a significant advantage, for sure.
"But I'm really interested in how, in a very short time, the discourse has changed from coronation and juggernaut to a Liberal leadership race," she said, adding that there are plenty of examples of leadership races in which the front-runner ultimately lost.
On the upheaval over the federal government's relationship with First Nations, Hall Findlay blasted Prime Minister Stephen Harper — and the NDP, which helped defeat the Liberal government in 2005 — for scrapping the Kelowna accord, which would have pumped $5 billion over five years into improving the quality of life for aboriginal peoples.
That has led to the frustration that's boiled over in illegal road and bridge blockades, Spence's month-long hunger protest and the Idle No More movement, she said.
That said, Hall Findlay also said the illegal protests, as well as Spence's refusal to give up her liquid-only diet, even after last Friday's meeting between some chiefs and Harper, have made it more difficult to achieve solutions.
"It has certainly brought emotions to a level and some of the discourse to a level that has not been ultimately very productive, which I feel very badly about," she said, calling on Spence to end her hunger strike.
Hall Findlay also sided with judges, who have admonished the police for their reluctance to break up illegal protests, apparently afraid of provoking a violent confrontation.
"My view is, the police should do their job."
On other issues, Hall Findlay:
— Criticized Harper for what she called his "absolute, blind, unilateral support of Israel, at all costs." Such a one-sided approach is "not conducive to a solution" to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Canada should be able to strongly support Israel but still have the courage to criticize where criticism is warranted, she said, citing Israel's intention of allowing more settlements in strategic areas of the West Bank.
— Stressed she's not advocating any tax increases while the country is still struggling to emerge from a crippling recession. Once the economy rebounds, however, she reiterated her willingness to at least consider reversing the Harper government's two-percentage-point reduction in the GST and put a price on pollution. She also said she'd be "willing to entertain" a surtax on the wealthiest Canadians.
— Said it makes no sense that the government only begins to claw back old age security benefits from seniors with net incomes of $70,000 or more and only claws them back totally for those with incomes of more than about $110,000. "I am of the belief that those who can, should be responsible for their own retirement ... Why on earth are Canadian taxpayers giving money to people who are making $110,000 net income at the age of 65?"