January 20, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 60  

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NEWS

‘Control freak’ Liberals consider harsh rules due to Sheila Copps

By Angela Marie Denstedt
Gazette Staff

The federal Liberal Party will soon be enforcing new game rules for future Liberal candidates, which seem to stop just short of requiring the name of the candidates’ hair stylists.

As per new party rules, all future candidates must sign a waiver vowing not to run individually or for a different party anywhere in Canada if they lose a Liberal nomination. Candidates must also disclose personal information from their past regarding their medical history, education and marital status.

“With Paul Martin as the new Liberal leader, parties have begun sorting themselves out. There is likely to be more contested nominations in the Liberal ridings because of different factors including leadership and the redistributed ridings and boundaries,” said John McDougall, a Western professor of political science.

“I can understand the need for a screening process [for would-be candidates], but certain aspects of this are extreme. Questioning a 50-year-old candidate [on] whether they were ever caught plagiarizing in college is a bit much,” said Andrew Sancton, also a political science professor at Western.

The waiver is believed to be in response to rumours of Sheila Copps’ intentions to leave the Liberals for the New Democratic Party if she loses her Hamilton-area riding in the next federal election. “If she’s going to leave, she should go before the election. That would be ethical,” Sancton said, when asked to comment on Copps’ possible move.

The waiver also exposes a potential weakness in the federal Liberal Party, as it may signal paranoia and need for control, he said. “There is an expression called ‘control freak;’ they don’t want any surprises and appear to be excessively controlling information.”

“It is harder to get a Liberal nomination in this province than any other,” he noted, adding this will not begin a chain reaction of mandatory waivers being implemented by different parties.

Sancton also commented that the new mandatory waiver could do the opposite of weeding out dirty politicians, and instead, discourage decent candidates from running. “Some people may have things they’d like to keep secret, so they would rather not disclose the information than to run for office.”

“There are certain aspects of people’s lives that are so private you would not want them becoming public knowledge. I would not want to risk something private within my family being publicized and would not run [for political office] for that reason,” said Stephanie LaBelle, a second-year psychology student.

 

 

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