Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

This time he's really lost it

I'm not a Liberal, but Sheila Copps has always been one of the ones I've liked. She manages to strike just the right balance between a hardball, take-no-prisoners attitude and the politics of compassion, which is hard for anyone. She's got her pet issues, but they're much less personal than with a lot of politicians, and she really listens to people. Unfortunately for Sheila, especially as a Chrétien loyalist, she had the unmitigated gall to run against Paul Martin for the leadership of the party, and earlier this year, he cut her off at the knees as payback. First he demoted her, then he forced her out of her riding of Hamilton-Stoney Creek in a bitter nomination battle that was won by Martin supporter Tony Valeri. Sheila's EA defected to the NDP, and she even thought about heading there herself, though eventually she opted not to and headed home to Hamilton instead. When the election rolled around, the level of Valeri hatredmany bitter Liberals crossed party lines, and in the end the man won, but only by a few votes. But people loved Sheila, and Valeri's not going to be forgiven that easily. An awful lot of people, non-Liberals and Liberals alike, have been using him as a punching bag.

For weeks, there has been speculation about who our esteemed prime minister was going to appoint to cabinet, and much of that speculation has centred around who would take the position of house leader. In a minority government, the relatively piddly job of house leader becomes a huge task that involves being a diplomacy-oriented politico who's widely respected and plays well with others, both from different factions within the party and from other parties. In the words of the Globe and Mail: Although not normally a jewel coveted by cabinet ministers, the House leader's role will take on new importance because the Liberals must cut deals with the opposition to pass the Martin agenda and prevent the government from falling in any confidence vote. A lot of pundits thought Martin would probably make his longtime friend, supporter, and all-around nice guy Ralph Goodale house leader, moving him out of the position of finance minister.

This morning, Martin appointed his cabinet. The house leader is not, in fact, going to be Ralph Goodale. Guess who it's going to be instead?

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