April 1, 2004: Martin introduces Dosanjh as star candidate
Canadian Press Newswire
April 1, 2004
SECTION: Ap 1'04
LENGTH: 897 words
HEADLINE: Martin introduces three B.C. star candidates, appoints one of them
BYLINE: Carmichael, Amy
VANCOUVER (CP) _ Prime Minister Paul Martin used his power to strongarm
would-be challengers out of the way for three star candidates _ including
former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh _ to run in Vancouver in the next
Dosanjh, who for decades has represented the NDP, will not have to face a
nomination battle. He bought his Liberal membership a day before the
The other two will be acclaimed in their ridings.
Martin called the appointment a rare exception, but a right he reserves.
He said sometimes it's the best way to ensure the right people are running
for the party.
The move however grates against his campaign thunderings about the
democratic deficit in Canada and his determination to do something about
it, critics say.
''There will be circumstances where I will reserve the right to nominate
candidates and I have done that in one case,'' Martin told a packed news
''That is a rare exception but in fact also part of the democratic process
in ensuring we have the kinds of men and women who are going to represent
B.C. and other provinces at the national table.''
Dosanjh and Martin's other favourites, former Canfor CEO David Emerson and
community activist and bureaucrat Shirley Chan, said the prime minister's
help was a key part of their decision to run.
''I've had my share of nominations and battles. I can show you the scars
from all of those,'' Dosanjh said.
''The prime minister has his prerogative...The prime minister has seen fit
to use his prerogative to appoint me.''
Dosanjh said the two other Liberals vying for the nomination withdrew from
the race this morning, ''so in a sense this is actually appointment by
Union leader Dave Haggard and B.C. Liberal party president Bill Cunningham
had also been tabbed for ridings.
Mark Marissen, Martin's chief campaign organizer in British Columbia,
wouldn't comment on their status except to say they haven't decided not to
''Today is the announcement of these three candidates and there will be
other announcements on other days,'' Marissen said.
The process enraged candidates from other parties who will be running
against Martin's stars.
''I think it's disgusting. It's so anti-democratic,'' said NDP politician
Ian Waddell, who will face off against Emerson in Vancouver Kingsway.
''Here comes the prime minister in Vancouver saying 'I want to be
democratic, I'm the new broom.'
''I don't think these guys could win nominations from the Liberal party in
Waddell served as an NDP B.C. cabinet minister with Dosanjh.
Martin said other parties don't like to admit it, but they do exactly the
''This is not unusual. The best example of that I can give you is the old
Conservative party has lost a number of candidates Peter McKay came out
for. A number of candidates who were subsequently disuaded from running by
the new leader, Stephen Harper.''
In the House of Commons, opposition MPs wondered why Martin waded into
these nominations and stood back while Sheila Copps was beaten out of her
seat in a bitter contest.
The redrawing of riding boundaries had pitted her against a Liberal cabinet
''These are really very very unfortunate occasions where two sitting
members of parliament really have to fight each other for the
nomination,'' Martin said.
''The only way the party leader can handle that is simply stand back and
Emerson apparently has the enthusiastic support of the two other party
members who were seeking the nomination, according to Marissen. Liberal MP
Sophia Leung stepped aside.
Emerson said he simply couldn't commit himself to running until he
completed a major takeover deal of Slocan Forest Products, which closed at
He said he wouldn't have been able to run without Martin's support.
''In the event that the transaction didn't close, the company would have
been without a CEO and I wouldn't do that. For me, it couldn't have
happened any other way.''
Martin may have been able to get the candidates past nomination battles,
but now they will have to stand on their own and win the support of
Dosanjh has the added challenge of fending off accusations of opportunism
for switching parties for a grasp at federal power.
''I have always believed political labels are not important, principals are
important. I'm not an ideologue. I want to contribute to the building of
this country and I want to also be there speak for B.C. in Ottawa,'' he
''I've simply chosen a vehicle I believe is more inclusive, has a larger
tent and reflects my views of diversity and inclusion.''
Chan will run in Vancouver East. The riding is currently held by NDP MP
Davies met with her party leader, Jack Layton, in Vancouver Thursday to
talk about her new opponent.
Layton said all three of Martin's hand-picked candidates have jumped onto a
bandwagon with a flat tire.
''It's surprising that these candidates would want to associate themselves
with the Liberal party at this time. It's clearly a party wrapped up in
corruption. Paul Martin's decisions as finance minister have been very,
very destructive to the province.
''It's very odd and in the election we'll see how the people feel about