Tim Belford: Short Takes On Life
Tim Belford
Tim Belford
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Tim Belford is host of Quebec A.M. -- CBC Radio's popular English- language morning show (91.7 FM, 6-9, Mon.-Fri). He also is said to know a thing or three about wine.

Posted 01.21.03
Quebec City


There's Rock, then there's the hard place

So Alan Rock has called it quits.

It's not surprising.

The man who brought you the gun registration law says Paul Martin can't be beaten for the leadership of Canada's Liberal Party.

Rock says in today's pre-leadership race it's virtually impossible to raise enough money for a campaign.

This is partly due to the fact that the front runner, Martin, has got more organizers on the street with their hands out than the Salvation Army has at Christmas.

Besides, Rock would have to make an estimate of how much it would cost to mount a run at the top job.

Then -- if his past experience with the gun registration is any indication -- he'd have to actually come up with about a billion more.

Meanwhile, Paul Martin is rumored to have a war chest about the same size as the budget surplus.

Rock joins ex cabinet colleague Brian Tobin.

Captain Canada packed it in and went back to Come By Chance or Virgin's Arm or wherever he's from in Newfoundland when he found out Jean Chretien wasn't going to anoint him as successor.

Martin's money, popularity, and organization has actually scared off just about everyone except Finance Minister John Manley.

Manley, who was once labeled "Beaker" after a character on the Muppets, has done a major makeover.

The guy that once reminded Canadians of the kid in high school with the plastic pen holder and the Howdy Doody lunch bucket is now the Minister of Just About Everything.

Like Preston Manning, he's dumped the glasses, got a hair stylist, and no longer buys his clothes off the rack at Gino's Suit Emporium.

The problem is that Manley has to come up with a budget soon.

And his boss, Jean "I'm going to leave a legacy" Chretien wants to fund a variety of pet projects.

The members of the Liberal caucus also want their fair share of any surplus.

On the other side of the fence, Canada's business interests want no new spending, the deficit reduced, and a tax cut so they can afford to pay all the money they've pledged to Paul Martin's campaign.

This doesn't leave Manley -- as they say in politics -- much "wiggle room."

Sheila Copps says she hasn't made up her mind whether she'll run or not.

But even if she did, it's not likely the Liberals would take a chance that she'd do for the them what Kim Campbell did for the Tories.

Which leaves the faint possibility of an outsider. A dark horse. Perhaps someone outside the party untainted by the infighting of the last couple of years.

Maybe Jean Charest, now that he's a Liberal?

Or Lucien Bouchard, since it may be the only major party he hasn't belonged to or led?

What about Roy Romanow? He's been a near-Liberal for years and he'd come with his own health plan.

Surely there must be someone out there who can make it a race.

But come forth now. Time is running out.