If Martin hit by bus, Copps is PM - ahhh!
By Ben Fine
Liberal leadership candidate Paul Martin has all but edified himself as Canada's next prime minister. In preparation for the Liberal leadership convention, Liberal party members in ridings across Canada voted 90 per cent in favour of electing Paul Martin as the next leader of the federal Liberal Party.
Members of Canada's majority-governing Liberal Party were invited to vote for the party's new leader this past weekend at local delegate election meetings. The vote, while not official, is an indication of party sentiments and serves as a preview for the November Liberal leadership convention.
"[The vote] demonstrated that Mr. Martin has built up solid support within the membership of the party," said Martin Westmacott, a professor of political science at Western. "I don't think it came as a surprise to anybody."
"I knew it was going to happen," remarked Don Brodhagen, a second-year English and history student.
"Clearly, Martin is going to win," said political science professor Robert Young of the outcome of the upcoming Liberal leadership convention. "But he could be hit by a bus," he added. "It's a good thing there are other people in the race," Young said, referring to the other Liberal leadership contender, Sheila Copps.
"Sheila Copps did surprisingly well given the crushing weight of the Martin machine," Young said. As of Sunday night, Martin had received 3,491 of 5,800 delegate votes. Copps received 292.
The Liberal Party has demonstrated its loyalty to Paul Martin; however, Prime Minister Jean Chretien had announced a year ago he would remain in office until Feb. 2004.
In the interim, Canada will experience a "two-headed leadership problem," Young remarked, pointing to the Chretien-Martin challenge. "Who do you propose legislation toe" Young asked.
"There will be growing pressure on Martin from within the party to define his political agenda - and pressure on Chretien to get out sooner," Westmacott said, adding it will be important for the Liberal Party to facilitate a comfortable transition from Chretien to Martin.