Sheila Copps is back. You would think that a left-wing Liberal such as Sheila would be simpatico with us but the truth is she follows different drummers.
A product of the rough and ready politics of Hamilton, Ontario, Sheila is her father’s daughter. Vic Copps was a tough guy, always a contender and a real Liberal. Starting out as a reporter, Sheila wanted to follow her father’s ambitions. She meant to follow his road to Queen’s Park as a provincial politician but was lucky to lose. That lead to a 20-year career in Ottawa—going from the Rat Pack to Deputy Prime Minister.
And Sheila is nobody’s “Baby.” Feisty and ferocious, she was a strong speaker, strong willed and out to prove something. She just never said what it was. She never seems to pick her battles well.
Sheila moved from the opposition benches to the Deputy Prime Minister’s spot after the election of 1993. She seemed to have been chosen as Jean Chrétien’s left-wing guard or point woman but seemed to have absolutely no influence in Cabinet. The reality of the Chrétien years as Prime Minister was that Liberal Party policy was firmly under the right-wing direction of Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien’s mentor, the late Mitchell Sharp. Sheila’s great battle over the Goods and Services Tax was more like a mental patient fighting with her straight-jacket.
Mind you, you have to respect her as an orator. Sheila tells a great story. It must be that early training as a reporter. You can always enjoy the speech. Just try not to analyze the content. This is the cause of some concern as Sheila sets her sights today on the presidency of the Liberal Party of Canada.
The Liberal Party has to have leadership. It has to get on the road back. It has already bottomed. And it needs to move firmly to the left. The concern here is that Sheila Copps lacks the left-wing credentials of a Herb Gray or a Lloyd Axworthy. Nor is she their intellectual equal.
We have to consider the party’s needs. We need to make it clear that the only direction for Liberals is left. We need to stake our ground and invite the like-minded to join us. Yes, we need leadership. It has to be leadership that believes in Canada’s future as a country that serves its peoples. That means women’s rights, adequate childcare, guaranteed annual income, dental care along with Medicare, free college and university for all who can pass the exams. It has to be a Canada that cares. It can be a Canada of which we can all be proud.
Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry
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