Ottawa’s Camille Labchuk thinks she would have made a great political leader.

The 24-year-old communications consultant has very strong views on what Canada needs, on issues from climate change to improving quality of life for citizens.

So when CBC asked her to be a contestant on their nationally televised competition Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister — which airs in March — she was thrilled.

“I’ve poured myself into the competition for the last two months,” said Labchuk.
She and her campaign team spent more than 200 hours researching policy, filming videos and encouraging people to vote.

Her efforts paid off as she became the highest-rated contestant in the program’s web competition, meaning she would have automatically reached the semifinals next week.
That’s why she was shocked when CBC disqualified her Friday after learning she had run for Parliament in 2006.

Before entering the competition, she told producers that she had run as the Green Party candidate in Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe in 2006. They had given her the OK.

“I feel utterly crushed,” she said. “This was a jading experience.... I poured my heart and soul into the competition and encouraged people to vote for me online.

“This move is a disservice to young people, to fairness and democracy. I think the end results will turn young people away from politics.”

She’s also hired a lawyer to possibly pursue legal action for what she feels is unfair disqualification.

“We apologized to Camille when we spoke to her,” Jeff Keay, a spokesman for CBC told Metro yesterday. “It’s an unfortunate mistake. It’s our mistake and Camille shouldn’t have been told in the first place that she was eligible.”

The fact that she’s run for office before makes her ineligible because of fairness to the other contestants, he said. In fact, two other people were disqualified at the same time for the same reason.

“This competition is designed to help youth become more politically engaged,” Labchuk said. “This sends the opposite message, and reinforces the cynicism that young people have in this process.”

Still, she plans “to stay active in politics for the rest of my life,” she said.
The competition currently has 12 Ottawa residents competing for the title.

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