Bitter Hamilton Liberals back NDP instead
Date: Sunday, June 27 2004
HAMILTON, ONT. - Some well-known members of a Hamilton Liberal riding association advised voters Friday to cast ballots for the local NDP candidate rather than their own candidate, cabinet minister Tony Valeri.
One of the defectors, Jimmy Lomax, told reporters gathered at NDP candidate Tony DePaulo's campaign headquarters that he had been a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party since 1962.
"This isn't the party I remember when I joined many, many, many years ago," he said.
The well-known local philanthropist pointedly praised the work of former Hamilton-area Liberal Sheila Copps, whom Valeri defeated for the Hamilton East-Stoney Creek nomination back in March.
"As a member of the Order of Canada and as Hamilton's Santa Claus, I urge you to vote for Tony DePaulo… and to elect Hamilton orange, not red, this time around," Lomax said.
"We will be doing good things for Hamilton and for Canada."
Prime Minister Paul Martin appointed Valeri as his transport minister in December, clearly indicating which Hamilton MP he preferred in his inner circle.
In March, Valeri won a bitter battle with Copps for the right to represent the new riding formed when parts of their previous Hamilton-area ridings were merged in the most recent redistribution process.
Many local Liberals were aghast at the loss of Copps, who as a Jean Chrétien supporter had a far from cordial relationship with Martin and was the last remaining candidate opposing him at last November's leadership convention.
The former heritage minister and deputy prime minister subsequently left federal politics, but said she would not rule out a return someday.
Asked about the Hamilton riding association defections at a Toronto event, Martin urged voters in Steeltown to stay with the Liberals despite any lingering bitterness about the fate of Copps.
"That whole situation was very unfortunate," he said. "I regret it very much and so does Tony [Valeri]."
He added that Copps herself has been campaigning for other Liberal MPs in the current campaign, implying that she wants to see her old party succeed, even if some of her supporters in Hamilton don't.
Martin also said votes for the NDP could translate into a victory for the Conservative Party of Canada, and reminded the industrial city, "Stephen Harper has said he will not support the automotive industry."
Lomax saved some of his harshest criticisms at the Hamilton news conference for the Liberal leader personally.
"Martin represents dishonesty," he said, citing years of broken health-care promises and the failing fortunes of local steelmaker Stelco at a time when ships owned by Martin's family are carrying imported steel into the country.
Written by CBC News Online staff