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I've never been a big fan of Shelia Copps. She has never been a particularly strong politican (with the GST issue being a low point), but has been popular in East Hamilton, and a representative of the left wing of the Liberal Party. But I am disapointed by her treatment by Martin and her loss to "Blowfish" Valeri. So much for party unity. All hail the Paul Martin Party of Canada.

From the CBC (the first to break the story online)
Copps loses Liberal nomination fight
Last Updated Sat, 06 Mar 2004 23:48:35

HAMILTON, ONT. - Canada's Minister of Transport Tony Valeri derailed the campaign hopes of longtime Hamilton MP Sheila Copps Saturday night, winning the right to run as the Liberal party's candidate in a redrawn local riding.

The boundaries of some federal constituencies were recently redrawn, leaving the two Liberal members of Parliament facing squaring off in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek. It became a fiercly contested nomination race.

About 11,000 people were eligible to vote Saturday. Organizers called the turnout "historic." At one point the line of people waiting to cast ballots snaked around the outside of the high school.

Counting was supposed to begin at 7 p.m. EST, but organizers extended the voting hours until around 10 p.m. Results were announced around 11:45 p.m.

Copps, deputy prime minister and heritage minister in Jean Chrétien's government, has been a Hamilton MP for the past 20 years. But she was dumped from cabinet when Paul Martin became Liberal leader last fall.

Heading into the vote, Valeri claimed to have the backing of about 7,000 members. Copps said she had roughly 6,600 members.

During his final pitch for support Saturday, Valeri urged the crowd to get behind "the renewed Paul Martin Liberal government." He acknowledged his rival's contributions under the former prime minister, but said: "It's not about our past, it's about our future."

Copps, on the other hand, talked about the importance of lobbying for "the true values of liberalism," and said she was the best choice to represent immigrants and the working class.

Although she has previously threatened to leave the Liberal party and run as an independent or a New Democrat in the next election, Copps signalled the need for unity during Saturday's speech: "Tony, whatever happens in this fight, we're all believing in the building of our great party, and we'll do it together."

During the past few months, Copps has accused Martin of trying to push her out of politics by not supporting her as the candidate. But the prime minister has said he doesn't want to take sides in Liberal contests involving the redistribution of ridings.

Written by CBC News Online staff
Copps had the opportunity to have another riding. Her stubbornness led to her downfall.
But Valeri doesn't even live in that riding, but next door to the east. He could have run there and avoided the conflict, which has actually hurt the Liberals, and turned people off, including Gary Carr, the former PC speaker. See the Globe article, which has more detail and analysis.

(edit) By the way, I found this quote to be of some interest, especually with the current controversy concerning Quebec:

But many, including business and labour leaders and even the mayor, Larry Di Ianni, took stock and decided to place their money on the man at the cabinet table. Valeri offers the most potential for Hamilton to continue to benefit from Liberal power, they reasoned.
When Copps was riding high on her horse during the Chretien reign, she was quite the arrogant double talking MP, and always danced to the tune of her master. The Liberals could never do wrong, as she bombarded us with praise upon praise for her promise-breaking party.

Well, the Chretien horse went out to pasture... and now she is crying the big crocodile tears as all the deadwood gets tossed aside. Boo Hoo Hoo. What goes around, comes around.

Pass the tequila Sheila.
Well, given the margin by which she lost, and the voting irregularities, don't be surprised if she manages to get a revote.
What's wrong with that quote, spm? Of course ridings love to have cabinet ministers represent them.
:tup: :cheers: :tup: :cheers: :tup: :cheers: :tup: :cheers: :tup: :cheers:

spmarshall said
And I see this as another example of Martin's purge of all those who didn't support his leadership campaign as much as he wanted. Most of those in his purge represented the left wing of the party. Valeri could have ran in his own riding. Martin could have avoided this.
Which conservative party will you be voting for in the next election ? ---going to start a poll soon.

A glorious day for the Liberal party!
A glorious day for Canada!
The left of the Liberal party is OUT IN THE COLD! :) :) :) :)
:tup: :tup: :tup:
"But that the sole purpose behind some comments, such as that of the pro-expressway mayor (Copps opposed the Red Hill Creek Expressway) seemed to be continuing the gravy train for Hamilton, even though Copps brought a lot to that city and represented it well. It was all about pork."

Hey, that's politics man! If Copps was the cabinet minister, maybe things would have turned out differently. And I don't blame Martin for removing Copps from the cabinet... I admire her sense of nationalism somewhat but I found her ideas about giving away free Canadian flags and going south of the border to show off that Molson Canadian commercial to be stupid and embarrassing. And her "my daddy supported your daddy" sucking up to Martin before he chose his cabinet was just nauseating.

"And I see this as another example of Martin's purge of all those who didn't support his leadership campaign as much as he wanted. Most of those in his purge represented the left wing of the party."

Martin's goal was to show that his government would be different than Chretien's... he needed to do a wholesale revamping.

"Valeri could have ran in his own riding. Martin could have avoided this."

It's not Martin's responsibility to find employment for Copps... he could have just ditched her. Instead, she was given an opportunity to represent another riding. She chose to stay put and take the risk and she lost. That's politics.
It may be politics, but I don't have to like it, and it doesn't mean it is right. Martin is silencing and punishing his opposition within the party more so than any other provincial or federal leader in recent history (even more so than Mulroney, who like Martin, took control of the party to wrestle the leadership from an incumbant). I still don't understand how Martin can do no wrong. He's got enough scandals of his own to worry about, which have been kept quiet. The scandal in BC (where Martin's role is documented, but kept quiet), and the CSL contracts are good examples.

Jeffrey Simpson wrote aninteresting column yesterday about this mess. The Liberal Party will be hurt by the nasty battle. Martin could have intervened by having Valeri run in his own riding, but chose not to. He wanted Copps out, plain and simple. Not that Copps a great politican, but it is all about optics, exclusion and pettiness, and the increasingly rightist government (not that Nicetommy or Are Be would have an issue with that, though :) )
spmarshall - My support for Martin has more to do with his ability to govern, and actually do what he says he will do versus his right leaning views of things. I want a PM who will take charge. I want a PM who will actually not break his promises. I trust Martin.

The biggest problem I had with Chretien was his squandering of billions in tax dollars, followed by his extreme contempt and arrogance for the public. He just didn't care. He conducted himself as though he was above everyone, and everything.

I may be a right leaning individual, however, I support a large number of left leaning institutions. I may not like Jack Layton, but I did like Broadbent. It has more to do with the sincerity of the individual versus the party he/she represents. Jack Layton may be sincere, but I'm not feeling it. All I get from him is loudmouth theatrics. He talks the talk. I'm still waiting to see some substance behind it all.
"He wanted Copps out, plain and simple. Not that Copps a great politican, but it is all about optics, exclusion and pettiness, and the increasingly rightist government"

I actually expected Martin to move the Liberals a bit to the right but so far, fortunately, I'm not seeing it happening.
See Martin as Minister of Finance!
How more right wing can the Liberals get?
Copps: PMO played dirty politics
Photo: Frank Gunn/CP
Hamilton East-Stoney Creek Liberal party candidate Sheila Copps makes her way through the hallways of Cardinal Newman High School that are crowded with voters in Hamilton, Ont. on Saturday

From Monday's Globe and Mail

UPDATED AT 1:45 AM EST &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Monday, Mar. 8, 2004


Stoney Creek, Ont. — Sheila Copps has accused the Prime Minister's office of dirty politics, alleging that Paul Martin's aides interfered with the voting process that cost her the federal Liberal nomination in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek this weekend.

Ms. Copps, the former deputy prime minister, lost the ticket to Tony Valeri, the federal Transportation Minister and a close political ally to Mr. Martin, by only a few hundreds votes. She said federal interference prevented more than 400 of her supporters from being eligible to vote on Saturday, and she may appeal the result.

"There's no problem having a fight between Liberals," Ms. Copps told reporters yesterday as she arrived at a Sikh temple in this Hamilton suburb to thank members for backing her bid for the nomination. But "when the party takes sides, that's a problem, and when the leadership selectively uses the rules to massage an outcome, that's a problem."

The dispute follows a bitter campaign punctuated by nasty slogans and allegations of wrongdoing, and comes amidst a growing number of internecine battles within the Liberal Party as it gears up for an anticipated spring election.

Last night, the Toronto-area MP Carolyn Parrish won a bitterly fought nomination for Mississauga-Erindale, defeating another Liberal MP, Steve Mahoney, by 240 votes.

The previous evening in Ottawa, Diane Dean, a four-term city councillor, lost a nomination race to David McGuinty, brother of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, after she said party officials asked her to step aside.

Ms. Copps, who faces the end of her 23-year career in elected politics, said she will examine the Elections Act to determine if the party has acted illegally.

She was not specific about how she believes the Liberal leadership played a role in her defeat, except to say that it was obvious that the irregularities did not originate at the local level.

Mr. Martin's office last night denied there had been any interference in the nomination process. "The Prime Minister's Office had nothing to do with the vote last night," one of Mr. Martin's spokespeople said.

"The nominations are solely organized by the Liberal Party of Canada."

The primary point of contention centres around the names on the official list of eligible voters. Because it was not distributed until 1 a.m. on the day of the vote, there wasn't adequate time for either camp to check its accuracy.

In the end, Ms. Copps said, more than 400 of the original members of her old riding who do not live within the boundaries of the new one, but who had transferred their memberships there, were left off the list.

"We are entitled to have 10 per cent of out-of-riding memberships," she said. "All the transfers were lost." In addition, Ms. Copps said, "significant numbers of people had two pieces of identification and two forms . . and were still denied the right to vote because party officials in Toronto had not initialled their applications."

The race between Ms. Copps and Mr. Valeri became necessary when parts of their previous ridings were amalgamated during boundary redistributions.

Mr. Valeri's supporters say they too were victims of a bad list. Mr. Valeri told CTV's Question Period hat about 1,000 of his supporters were turned away without being able to vote on Saturday. But in the end, he said, he believes the vote was fair because he won by a margin of about 6 or 7 per cent, mirroring the number of memberships sold and the polling his supporters had done.

Jack Siegel, the chief returning officer for the nomination, disputed the suggestion that large numbers of people were turned away unfairly.

"I don't think there was any tampering" by the Liberal leadership, he said. "I think there was some pretty shoddy work done managing the list, which was a result of having too many meetings and too many members all at once."

In fact, there were five Liberal nomination meetings this weekend in Ontario, all of which were contested and at least two of which had more than 10,000 members to process. But Mr. Siegel went on to say that the scope of the alleged irregularities does not make any sense to him. He believes around 100 people were rejected at the voting box, including supporters of both candidates.

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Copps won't go gently
The whirling dervish of Liberal politics is already hinting at running as an independent if she loses today's nomination vote


UPDATED AT 9:24 AM EST &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Saturday, Mar. 6, 2004


Sheila Copps has always been running for something: the legislature, the provincial Liberal leadership, the House of Commons, the federal Liberal leadership.

Sheila (friend and foe alike call her by her first name in Hamilton) is the Energizer bunny of Canadian politics. Just as even the best batteries give out, will Sheila's career today come to an inglorious end?

If so, it will not be for lack of trying. Twenty years ago, in her first federal campaign, having already run for both the provincial legislature and Liberal leadership, she bounded up steps, ran from house to house, jabbered in English, Italian or snippets of other languages, a political whirling dervish with a storied name, huge smile, boundless confidence and a brawler's instinct.

Nothing has changed. She still bounds up stairs at 51 years of age, hustles from door to door and never stops talking, except that this time her foes are not New Democrats or Conservatives, but the dark forces, as she sees them, of Prime Minister Paul Martin's "boys," who want her out of federal politics.

Ms. Copps is fighting for the nomination in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, a blend of her former riding and that of Tony Valeri, the Transport Minister and a Paul Martin favourite. The contest finishes today when thousands of Copps and Valeri supporters vote. Would defeat really spell the end for Ms. Copps?

Mr. Valeri, first elected in 1993, admits that a defeat would finish his political career. Ms. Copps has not ruled out - indeed, has broadly hinted at - running as an independent or Liberal Independent in the next election, having already spurned entreaties from the NDP.

Today's vote can be read in various ways. It's a simple, if unfortunate, case of two senior Liberals caught by the redistribution of the electoral map, a local fight of no national importance. That's the portrait Mr. Valeri paints. The national media is reading too much into the contest.

Sorry, Mr. Valeri, that explanation only goes so far. Ms. Copps was the country's former deputy prime minister and you are the Minister of Transport. Today's vote is inescapably part of the Liberal Party's ongoing civil war: Mr. Valeri, the Martinite, against Ms. Copps, the Chrétien loyalist who dared to challenge Mr. Martin for the leadership.

This fight could have been averted, if Mr. Martin had wanted to intervene. He could have instructed Mr. Valeri, as a price for cabinet entry, to run (against his wishes, to be sure) in the neighbouring riding of Niagara West-Glanbrook, leaving Hamilton East-Stoney Creek for Ms. Copps.

But Mr. Martin decided not to intervene in any riding where two Liberal incumbents squared off. He told Ms. Copps, after hinting at a diplomatic post she immediately dismissed, that she and Mr. Valeri could duke it out. The result will be a defeated minister, Mr. Valeri, or a political martyr, at least in her own eyes, Ms. Copps.

Mr. Martin's people want Ms. Copps gone, no matter what they say publicly. Their cold reading of Sheila Copps is that she has deluded herself. They do not believe she possesses an important national constituency inside and beyond the Liberal Party. They consider her a spent force, with higher negative ratings than positive ones. They underscore her weak finish in the Liberal leadership. They don't want someone, whose ego they believe outweighs her judgment, to create ruckuses in caucus.

They think that even in Hamilton, where her father was mayor and she has been an elected representative since 1981, the people want someone new.

Hamilton is hurting. Stelco and Slater Steel are under bankruptcy protection. Other storied companies have closed plants. WestJet abandoned Hamilton airport for Toronto. The city lost the Commonwealth Games to New Delhi. Downtown shops are suffering. Whole streets just east of Jackson Square are pockmarked with boarded-up stores.

Like other parts of Canada in economic decline, the city's hand is out to governments. Sheila Copps helped as best she could; witness the waterfront park, among other projects. Now, she's a backbencher. That's where she'll stay even if she wins the nomination and the riding. Hamilton, however, wants largesse and federal help, not a lonely voice. So said Mayor Larry Di Ianni, who broke his neutrality to support Mr. Valeri.

"Who is the best person who can serve this community, a backbencher or a cabinet minister?" the mayor said. "It would do the community of Hamilton no good to lose a cabinet minister."

Whoever doubted the cruelty of politics should remember the mayor's words: Thanks, Sheila, you're toast.

Ms. Copps, of course, does not agree. She, like Mr. Valeri, has organized an elaborate plan to get out her vote: cabs, a dozen buses, an Indian pop star, multicultural food, phone banks. Mr. Valeri's team has contacted its supporters five times, or so they say. The Valeri organizers are primed, too.

The man with the hardest job in Canada today will be the returning officer at the Copps-Valeri nomination, a Toronto lawyer and former Allan Rock supporter. There will be challenges, appeals and accusations of error and foul play. These are warring camps, after all, that cannot agree on anything.

How many Liberal members are there after the weeks of membership selling? Some Valeri people say 13,000; Copps people reply 11,000. How many members has Mr. Valeri got? About 7,000, he says. Not so, replies Ms. Copps. It's more like 4,500. Somebody is very wrong. And who knows how many of those recruited for the fight will actually vote on what is expected to be a blustery, rainy Saturday?

Two story lines intersect: a doughty

female, former minister and fighter for

the marginalized struggling valiantly to protect her turf; a political has-been

who, ensnared in the illusions of her

own persona, does not realize her sad marginality.

Sheila Copps has fought six elections, one by-election, three leadership campaigns and now this nomination. She has only known the limelight, dimmer now than just a few years ago, and likely to be dimmer still. She will not go gently, whatever happens today. The light is dying. She will rage against it.

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp
Mar. 8, 2004. 01:00 AM
Chretien's palace guard battered


HAMILTON—When the divisive battle for the Liberal nomination in the new riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek was launched in December, it had the makings of an unseemly footnote to the recent leadership campaign.

But by Saturday, when more than 5,000 Liberals converged on a local high school to have their say, it had become something else: the opening skirmish in a Liberal quest for prime ministerial blood in the wake of Paul Martin's decision to lead the hunt for those within his own party who may have had a role in the sponsorship scandal.

With the Jean Chrétien clan rallying around Sheila Copps, both sides were playing for keeps and losing one of his senior cabinet ministers, even to hang on to a rare female party fixture, was no longer a sustainable option for the Prime Minister.

For Martin, the nomination defeat of Copps by Transport Minister Tony Valeri was more than just the lesser of two evils. It turned into a pre-emptive strike for the soul of his party at a time when a general election call is probably just around the corner.

By taking on his predecessor's influential palace guard in the aftermath of the sponsorship scandal, Martin may well have engaged in the fight of his life as Prime Minister.

If he does not prevail decisively in the upcoming election, he will likely be crucified by the very establishment he has launched a crusade against.

But until then, most Liberals are unlikely to line up behind fired VIA Rail chairman Jean Pelletier and disgraced ambassador Alfonso Gagliano in their public battle against Martin.

They are unlikely poster boys for the cause of political martyrdom.

In the context of the dramatic events of the past few weeks, a Copps victory, on the other hand, could only have been framed as a stinging grassroots rebuke to the Prime Minister who has turned his broom on his own house.

In the end, the biggest loser was Copps herself.

In one short year, she has gone from being the highest profile woman in the government to being handed her walking papers by members of her own community.

While the former heritage minister blames Martin for her downfall, she is largely the author of her own misfortune.

Over the past 12 months, she has gone out of her way to turn herself into an expendable quantity.

It started with an ill-advised leadership campaign that only served to illustrate how marginal a force Copps had become within the Liberal party.

While she blames her fate at last November's Liberal convention on a Martin steamroller, the fact is her measly leadership score was matched by her poor standing in public opinion.

Time and time again over the past year, polls have shown that Copps' negatives have come to outweigh her positives.

Then there was the snap dismissal of Martin's offer of a patronage appointment. It was not unreasonable on the part of the Prime Minister to assume that Copps — who had spent a decade as a senior minister — would want to put whatever skills she acquired along the way to other uses than backbench politics.

More recently, there was a well-publicized flirtation with the NDP.

It did not amount to much more than a tease.

The NDP warned Copps early on that if she went through with her nomination battle and lost, the party would not be keen to recycle a Liberal reject under its label.

Ever since the release of the auditor-general's report on the sponsorship scandal last month, Copps has trained her guns on Martin.

Again on Saturday, she asserted that, by virtue of his top cabinet role as finance minister in the Chrétien government, he had to be in the loop of the sponsorship program, which saw $100 million in federal funds funnelled to Liberal-friendly communications firms.

But that can only beg the question of her own knowledge.

As heritage minister, Copps oversaw the groups and programs that received sponsorship money.

If knowledge that the program was breaking every rule in the book were widely available, would she not have been in an ideal position to hear about it?

What now for Copps' future?

Even as Valeri was delivering his victory speech late Saturday night, she was telling the media she had been cheated of a win by the party and hinting of other political battles to come.

But those of us who spent 12 hours awaiting the outcome of this lose-lose battle witnessed no big political machine, no high-flying organizers in action on the side of Valeri.

Almost 3,000 local Liberals came to his aid, even as he made no claim to matching the national profile of his defeated opponent.

In the end, a solid section of the Hamilton Liberal community agreed with Martin that it was time to show Copps the door and thousands of its members were willing to wait hours standing in a high school hall Saturday afternoon for a chance to deliver their message.

Additional articles by Chantal Hébert

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