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We lost our only Member in Canada's Parliament but we gained...

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  • We lost our only Member in Canada's Parliament but we gained...

    Martin hand-picks another candidate
    PM breaking promise for democratic reform, opposition MPs say

    Anne Dawson
    The Ottawa Citizen

    Sunday, May 09, 2004
    Page A5 - Morning Edition

    Prime Minister Paul Martin ignored his own promise to make Parliament
    more democratic yesterday by hand-picking yet another Liberal
    candidate and doling out another patronage appointment.

    In the past two days, he has used his power to appoint one candidate
    in Ontario and another four in Alberta and British Columbia. He has
    also given patronage appointments to two sitting MPs in exchange for
    them stepping aside so he could designate his favourites in their

    The moves drew sharp criticism from opposition leaders, who accused
    Mr. Martin of playing a game of "who you know" rather than allowing
    grassroots democracy to take its course in the selection of political
    candidates. They also said the actions would further alienate Western
    Canadians already extremely dissatisfied with the workings of federal

    Manitoba-born Ruby Dhalla, a Toronto chiropractor and a longtime
    Liberal activist, was appointed to be the Liberal candidate in the
    Brampton-Springdale riding. Liberal MP Sarkis Assadourian, who has
    represented that riding since 1993, has been given the position of
    special adviser on Near Eastern and South Caucasus Affairs to the
    prime minister in exchange for giving up his riding.

    "I am delighted to be able to turn to Sarkis Assadourian for expertise
    when it comes to matters of trade and foreign relations with the Near
    East," said the prime minister in a press released issued yesterday.

    Late Friday, Mr. Martin announced four other candidate
    appointees. They include: B.C. party president Bill Cunningham, who
    worked on Mr. Martin's leadership campaign, in the Burnaby-Douglas
    riding; lawyer Julia Turnbull, in Calgary South Centre; John Bethel,
    who was Mr. Martin's Alberta leadership campaign director, in Edmonton
    East; and Dave Muti, who served as a Liberal riding president, in
    Calgary North East.

    He also gave Winnipeg MP John Harvard an appointment to be the new
    lieutenant-governor of Manitoba in exchange for him stepping down so
    Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray could run in his
    Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia riding.

    Human Resources Minister Joe Volpe staunchly defended Mr. Martin's
    appointments on the grounds that the Liberal party permits such
    appointments under its constitution.

    But Conservative leader Stephen Harper said Mr. Martin has "tainted"
    the Liberal candidates he has appointed with all the bad publicity the
    announcements have garnered.

    "This hardly seems like a way to fix the democratic deficit. It will
    ultimately jeopardize the election chances of every single one of them
    -- especially in Western Canada where these issues of democratic
    reform are most acute and the dissatisfaction with the existing system
    is most severe," Mr. Harper said yesterday.

    NDP leader Jack Layton accused Mr. Martin of showing a blatant
    disregard for the Chinese community by ousting Asian candidates in
    B.C. that have already shown they can win elections

    Mr. Layton said Mr. Martin has shown a "complete ... lack of
    understanding of western alienation" by playing a game of "who you
    know" rather than allowing democracy to take its course.

    "There seems to be no understanding in the prime minister's mind of
    the concept of grassroots. How are you going to get effective local
    voices if you don't allow local communities, through their local
    ridings to pick their candidates?" said Mr. Layton.

    A few weeks ago, Mr. Martin made another round of appointments in
    B.C., including businessman David Emerson, former NDP premier Ujjal
    Dosanjh, union leader Dave Haggard, native leader Miles Richardson and
    community activist Shirley Chan.

    The Ottawa Citizen 2004