Former prime minister Paul Martin predicts the humbled federal Liberal party will re-emerge as a force to contend with by the time of the next election in just three years.
Many Liberals, including some contenders for the party's leadership, believe it will take at least two elections to dig themselves out of the electoral hole to which they were consigned in 2011, when they were reduced to a third-party rump with just 34 seats.
But Martin is more optimistic, predicting a much faster turn-around.
"I think the Liberal party is going to be in very, very good shape come the next election," Martin said Monday night outside a Liberal tribute to senior party statesman and former cabinet minister Herb Gray.
"The fact of the matter is we've got both the (Conservative) government and the (NDP) Opposition (that) are at the polar extremes of the right and the left. That's not where Canadians are.
"Canadians understand that government has to play a positive role and that it has to be fiscally responsible and they've left the door wide open for the Liberals and that's exactly where the Liberals feel most comfortable."
That applies equally in Quebec, where voters flocked to the NDP in 2011, Martin added.
"I think Quebecers have indicated that they're capable of turning on a dime ... Quebecers are not extremists."
Martin said the current leadership race is "creating a lot of momentum" and interest in the party.
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