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14 2012

Mister or Madam President?

Syndicated from: Steve Paikin

  Liberals will have four solid but starkly different choices for the person who will lead the behind the scenes effort to rebuild this once venerable Canadian political institution. They who would be president: Mendes, Copps, Crawley, and Hartling.    All four have significant strengths and weaknesses, which makes the choice interesting to watch. The highest profile candidate is former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps. She's been out of politics for awhile, but stole the show at last night's all-candidates' debate.  "I've done everything from meet the Queen to wash toilets," she said fighting back tears. "I want to save this party."  No one doubts Copps' ability to get attention for this party. But murmurs in the hallways wonder how the party says "renewal" when led by a man (Bob Rae) who first got elected in 1978, and a woman, whose first trip to the House of Commons came in 1984.    Mike Crawley has significant Ontario support, and like Copps is bilingual (although not as good in French). The word is, he'll stick to his knitting more than Copps, and has less ego to boot.    Former Quebec MP Alexandra Mendes is trilingual (English, French, and Portuguese), has run an NGO, worked the backrooms of the party as riding association president, and was a one term MP. But she may have lost support last night during the debate when she was the only candidate to defend keeping the leader's right to appoint candidates to ridings. All three other candidates want to end that option, saying it has been abused by leaders, and the convention hall seems to agree with that.  (The power to appoint was originally given to leaders to help increase women and visible minorities as candidates but instead became a tool for leaders to appoint their friends).    And Ron Hartling was the president of the Kingston riding association, is considered to have strong behind the scenes organizational abilities, but demonstrates little personality and can't speak French. Voting for the next president, replacing Alfred Apps, takes place later today (Saturday, January 14, 2012). The results will be announced tomorrow.   

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