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Politics, pop culture collide at Liberal convention

"I'm going the biggest pain in his ass," said Bono.


Dan Brown
14 November 2003


TORONTO - Something rare took place at the Liberal convention on Friday night.

The worlds of politics and entertainment collided, which doesn't often happen in Canada.

Irish rocker Bono - who warmed up the crowd for Paul Martin, the party's new leader - acknowledged the unusual circumstances when he took to the stage.

"You know what they say about politics: it makes for strange bedfellows," he told the packed crowd at the Air Canada Centre.

Bono accepted Martin's invitation to speak at the convention so he could talk about how Western nations can help Africa, one of the causes he has championed.

But the U2 frontman confessed he was out of place: "I am quite surprised to find myself at a convention."

He explained that even he was leery of the idea of rock stars being politically active. "When celebrities open their mouth and they're not singing, I run," he said.

Although he had kind words for the efforts by Martin and Prime Minister Jean Chrétien to help developing nations, Bono stressed he is not a supporter of the Liberal Party, an admission which earned him a loud round of boos from the delegates assembled in the arena.

He added that he does not support any political party.

Bono promised to keep putting pressure on Martin after he becomes Canada's next prime minister. "I'm going the biggest pain in his ass," he said. "A year down the line, he's going to regret tonight."

Before the evening's program began, some Liberals said they were uneasy with how closely Martin had allied himself with the lead singer of U2.

Jason Alexander, a student at Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said he wouldn't have had reservations about Martin joining forces with Bono if the singer's appearance had come after the Liberal leadership campaign.

Akaash Maharaj is a candidate to succeed Stephen LeDrew as president of the Liberal Party. He said he has great respect for Bono, who seems genuinely committed to his ideals.

"That is not universally true [of celebrities]," Maharaj pointed out.

Maharaj believes that, in our country, politicians become famous - the famous don't become politicians. What he sees is a move toward nepotism, toward candidates who have few qualifications other than being the offspring of a politician from yesteryear.

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