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Copps alleges tampering in riding race

Globe and Mail Update

UPDATED AT 3:11 PM EST &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Tuesday, Mar. 9, 2004


Shelia Copps upped the ante in her battle with Transport Minister Tony Valeri over the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek Tuesday, alleging that illegal activities led to her defeat.

Ms. Copps said someone tapped into her riding office's phone system over the weekend and changed an outgoing message that was suppose to provide supporters with information on how to get a ride, how to get to the nomination meeting and how to vote.

The altered message apparently led a number of supporters to think they phoned the wrong number.

"We have reason to believe that it could have involved someone who works directly in the minister's office," Ms. Copps told reporters outside the House of Commons Tuesday. "I had a former employee who was let go and at the very end of the leadership campaign he came on to the Martin team."

Ms. Copps has asked the RCMP and Elections Canada to investigate the incident and also her allegation of tampering with voter eligibility.

"I think whoever tapped into our phone system obviously can be tracked by the police. And we can find out who was involved," Ms. Copps said.

The former deputy prime minister lost the ticket to Mr. Valeri, the federal Transport Minister and a close political ally to Prime Minister Paul Martin, by a few hundreds votes.

On the weekend Ms. Copps said federal interference prevented more than 400 of her supporters from being eligible to vote on Saturday.

"Between the pre-arranged rides and the buses, we know that we personally delivered over 3,000 people to the meeting," Ms. Copps said. "And yet the final count mysteriously shows us with 2,400 people voting."

Mr. Martin said he tried unsuccessfully Monday to reach Ms. Copps by telephone.

Ms. Copps said she didn't take the call because she was worried that she was going to be offered a patronage appointment.

"He tried to contact me last night and I believed it was to offer me a patronage appointment so I did not speak to him," Ms. Copps said. "This is not about me going into diplomatic heaven."

Ms. Copps turned down a patronage offer in December after Mr. Martin left her out of cabinet, saying she wouldn't be "steamrolled" into leaving politics.

Ms. Copps is scheduled to decide whether she'll appeal the result by the end of the day.

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Printed from web site Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - © 2004 The Sudbury Star A party divided

Our opinion

Tuesday, March 09, 2004 - 11:00

Editorial - Canadians ought not feel sorry for Sheila Copps. The former deputy prime minister and federal Liberal leadership candidate lost a weekend battle to hold onto her own Hamilton riding, and now finds herself pondering an uncertain future.

It’s easy to read too much into her loss. It comes at a time when the federal Liberals are openly cannibalizing themselves, and Copps has portrayed herself as a victim. Prime Minister Paul Martin has fired and publicly humiliated several top bureaucrats appointed by, and thought to be loyal to, former prime minister Jean Chretien. (Although with ongoing revelations pouring from a seemingly bottomless sponsorship scandal, humiliation for many seems inevitable.)

Copps lost a tight race — by only 311 votes out of 5,313 ballots cast — to carry the Liberal banner for the riding of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek into the coming federal election. Current Transport Minister Tony Valeri won the nomination.

The contest was triggered by Martin’s call at the November Liberal leadership convention for an open nomination process along with a redrawing of electoral boundaries. The more open process meant incumbent Liberals seeking re-election were no longer automatically granted the nomination.

Also on the weekend, Martin supporter Carolyn Parrish defeated former Chretien cabinet minister Steve Mahoney in the new riding of Mississauga-Erindale, just west of Toronto. Many more such battles are expected in the coming weeks as the Liberals prepare for what is expected to be a spring election.

For many who now find themselves outside the Martin government looking in, their fates seem like malodorous ends to distinguished political careers. That’s certainly how Copps is portraying her loss, and since she is Martin’s sole vanquished leadership candidate, her loss will resonate most.

The candidate herself said she will consult lawyers and supporters before deciding if she will appeal her loss. She has also revealed she has been offered the chance to represent the Liberals in other provinces, or may run independently in Hamilton.

It would be a shame for Copps to try to carry on as a politician in secondary roles. While her will to represent voters in the House of Commons is laudable, doing so at all costs would be unseemly. To serve as a public representative is a calling, not a job. No one, not even a Liberal — and not even a loyal Liberal like Copps — has a divine right to represent voters.

As a party stalwart loyal to Chretien, Copps enjoyed a long and successful in run federal politics, both in Opposition and then government. Should she leave federal politics, she will do so with a handsome government pension (she was also an MPP from 1981-1984). As a journalist before entering politics, she no doubt has a lucrative career as a television pundit — or some other role — awaiting her in private life.

In the end, the lesson that Copps must learn, and that all Liberals must learn, is that no one has a right to govern. She has an opportunity to make a dignified exit. She should spare her party a circus-like encore, take the hint and live to fight again.

What do you think? Send us your opinion in a Letter to the Editor at 33 MacKenzie St., Sudbury, P3C 4Y1, or fax it to 674-6834 or email it to
ID- 60671 © 2004 , OSPREY MEDIA GROUP Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
For god's sake are be, 7 articles? That is really excessive. They all say the same thing. Will the mods please delete some of them?
Hey, I'm open minded towards all negative press for the Liberals.
2004 Federal Election: Liberals marshal forces for Hamilton's civil war

This could have been avoided if Martin kept Copps in her harmless portfolio as Minster for taking Pot Shots at Americans and allowed her to run unopposed

Liberals marshal forces for Hamilton's civil war

From Friday's Globe and Mail

POSTED AT 8:30 AM EST Friday, Mar. 5, 2004


OTTAWA — Earlier this week, a troop of more than 60 Hamilton cabbies, armed with city maps, did practice runs of the routes they will take to pick up and deliver Sheila Copps's supporters to tomorrow's contentious nomination meeting in Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

Her strategists were armed with watches, clocking the cabbies' progress as they wound through the streets of the new riding.

Tomorrow morning, Punjabi pop star Gulzar Lahoria, whom Ms. Copps describes as a cross between Bob Marley and Gordon Lightfoot, will be campaigning by her side.

The two will sing together, trying to lure voters from their homes to the polling booths.

A civil war among federal Liberals has been declared in Hamilton. Both Ms. Copps, a former senior minister for Jean Chrétien, and Transport Minister Tony Valeri are fighting for their political lives.

Mr. Valeri's campaign manager, Chris Phillips, said they don't need "Punjabi singers or a Croatian dance team" to entice people to vote for their candidate.

"You couldn't get more differing and opposing styles in both people, as well as their campaigns," Mr. Phillips said. "Ours is really a network. We don't need gimmicks. Our people were motivated for a bunch of different reasons."

Mr. Valeri has said he will not run for any other seat if he loses the nomination. Ms. Copps has flirted with the idea of joining the NDP.

Clearly, however, the biggest loser is the Liberal Party. It has been a nasty battle.

"It's the clash of the titans," a veteran Ontario Liberal said.

The party has hired off-duty police officers to keep control for the vote tomorrow. The level of paranoia is such that a Copps insider said some supporters have hidden membership lists in their homes as a precaution.

They want to make sure the final party membership list conforms to theirs at tomorrow's vote. "It's hand-to-hand combat," one Liberal insider said.

The outcome is too close to call, but each side claims to have the edge. There are 13,000 members in the new riding, Mr. Phillips said, adding Mr. Valeri has about 7,000 supporters compared with 5,500 for Ms. Copps.

Ms. Copps said that there are 11,000 members and that she has 6,200 supporters to Mr. Valeri's 4,800.

"I don't think it's that tight," Ms. Copps said in an interview earlier this week, between making calls to the "undecided Italians."

"Our vote is really solidly identified," she said.

Mr. Phillips said the Valeri camp feels "cautiously optimistic."

The challenge for both sides is to get out the vote.

So there are Ms. Copps's taxi drivers and 12 buses that will shuttle supporters from the 19 apartment buildings in the riding, where she has identified 4,000 voters, to the polling station at Cardinal Newman High School. The buses will run hourly. Mr. Valeri has buses too, and will have people knocking on doors and calling voters.

Earlier this week Mr. Valeri received the endorsement of Hamilton Mayor Larry Di Ianni, and has the support of other community and union leaders.

"Who is the best person who can serve this community, a backbencher or a cabinet minister?" Mayor Di Ianni said. "I think it's a cabinet minister."

© 2004 Bell Globemedia Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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.

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.