Wednesday, December 06, 2006



Now that Stephane Dion has been crowned the King of the Liberal party of Canada, I wondered how this may play out for BC and in particular, Vancouver area riding's.

Enter Mark Marrisen, who was National Director for Mr. Dion's campaign team. He provided strong strategic and obviously, winning advice. This once again raises the stature of Mr. Marrisen, who will play a significant role with the Dion team. The Liberal leader will appoint Mr. Marrisen to again head up TEAM BC and get election ready for an expected spring election. Mr. Marrisen will be given enormous power as he had under former Prime Minister Paul Martin. He will decide who the candidates are and how the campaign is run.

Some say, Mr. Marrisen plays cut-throat politics. For example former MP, Herb Dhaliwal accused Mr. Marrisen of taking over his riding executive and working behind the scenes to remove him as the Senior Minister for BC, a position which came with considerable clout and prestige. Mr. Dhaliwal was a strong supporter of former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Jean Chretien. Mr. Marrisen was a strong backer of Rt Hon Paul Martin who was in direct conflict with Mr. Chretien. Of course Mr. Martin went on to become PM.

This time around, Mr. Marrisen has to tread carefully. He must recognize that while he has had considerable success in ensuring those candidates he supports becoming Leaders of the Liberal party of Canada, history has shown us that their tenure doesn't always translate into lasting success. Rt Hon Paul Martin went from having a majority government, which Mr Chretien won, to leading a minority government to being dispatched to opposition leader, in a relatively short period of time.

With the Dion win, if Mr. Marrisen continues to play hard ball politics, as he has in the past, the federal Liberals in BC could see their hope of receiving a government mandate, dashed.

Rumour has it that Mr. Marrisen will attempt to secure a riding for his wife, Christy Clark, the former Deputy Premier of BC to run in. The only possible options of course, would be Vancouver-Quadra or Vancouver-Centre where the Marrisen/Clark couple now reside. The problem here is that both these ridings are held by incumbent Liberal MP's, Stephen Owen and Dr Hedy Fry. Both these candidates supported candidates other than Dion and if Mr. Marrisen acts in a revengeful way, its possible that a takeover of Ms Fry's riding executive could be in the works. Although if an attempt were to be made, blood would spill since Ms Fry, is a woman of colour and is viewed by many grassroots members as their Voice in the Party. Mr. Marrisen would be advised to not even contemplate this.

Another couple of riding's which will give Grits fits is Vancouver-Kingsway and Vancouver-East. Their candidate in Van-Kingsway, Wendy Yuan, was nominated under questionable circumstances. She is not a strong candidate, nor does she have roots in the riding which is held by David Emerson, onetime heavy weight Liberal Cabinet Minister, now Government Minister in the Conservative government. Mr. Emerson, is viewed by many as a political opportunist for switching parties within a few weeks of the Liberals losing power, however, he may well win the riding by default since Ms Yuan is viewed as weak. If the Conservatives win this riding with Mr. Emerson, it will be significant since the Conservatives need to win a few urban seats if they hope to form majority government.

In terms of Van-East, Mr. Marrisen has been extremely supportive of the riding President, former Councillor, Daniel Lee who is rumoured to be seeking this riding nomination. Mr. Lee was a backer of Mr. Dion and hence Mr. Marrisen will owe President Lee a favor. However, Daniel Lee has run the riding very poorly. His actions resemble something like a Chairman Mao style. He has chased off a number of stellar executive members and has stacked the executive with people who do not have the necessary community connections to run a successful campaign. This riding has not attempted any fundraising and is saddled with an outstanding debt from a previous election.

Of course this riding while traditionally held by the New Democrats, has swung to the Liberals on a few occasions. This happens when the Liberals sweep back into power after having been in opposition. Expect the current MP, the popular Libby Davies to have an easy cakewalk, especially if Mr. Lee is the candidate.

So while, I congratulate Mr. Marrisen on his success and winning campaign, I caution him to proceed carefully around election readiness. I'd hate to see the Liberals slip even more, allowing the Conservatives to win a majority mandate.

Jamie Lee Hamilton