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Paul Martin’s Transition Team


Jane Taber
19 July 2003


OTTAWA - An Ottawa lobbyist who has managed to keep himself out of the internecine war between the Chrétienites and Martinites is expected to head the team that would guide Paul Martin's transition into government.

[Mike] Robinson, affable and trusted, has risen above the pettiness and climate of mistrust that divides the Chrétien and Martin camps, which have dominated the political landscape in Ottawa as the Liberal Party gets ready to pick a successor to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. Former finance minister Paul Martin is widely expected to win.

The transition team is a temporary group, formed to help a new leader through the period before he begins to govern. The team makes recommendations on cabinet positions and key ministerial staff.

Akaash Maharaj, national policy chairman of the Liberal Party, said he understands that leadership candidates might not want to look smug by setting up a team before the vote.

"But it would be irresponsible for any person who intends to win the leadership of the Liberal Party not to have a transition team at the ready for the day after victory," he said.

"You can't go into an election unless you're going with the purpose of winning; and if you're going to win you have to act responsibly, which means you have to be able to hit the ground running."

In 1993, David Zussman, a respected Ottawa policy consultant, Allan Lutfy, a lawyer and now associate chief justice of the Federal Court of Canada, and former Trudeau cabinet minister and Chrétien mentor Mitchell Sharp served on Mr. Chrétien's transition team.

"What was great about those three guys was that they were absolutely above reproach," said a veteran Liberal strategist. "I hope Paul [Martin] has people of that calibre with a lot of legitimacy and credibility to help him through that period. It [the transition team] is not the same as people who help you win delegate-selection meetings."

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