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Leadership Debate Flash Point

Manley tosses leadership hat in ring


Joan Bryden
18 March 2003


OTTAWA - John Manley quashed all doubts Monday that he intends to seek the leadership of the federal Liberal party.

"I've filed my papers. I've paid my fees. I'm in the race," the finance minister and deputy prime minister told reporters.

Also Monday, there were signs that the number and timing of all-candidates debates could become a flash point over which rival camps accuse the Martin-dominated party apparatus of rigging the contest.

The Copps and Manley camps want as many debates as possible prior to June 20, the cut-off for signing up new party members who will be eligible to vote for delegates to attend the November leadership convention. They need the debates to create momentum and recruit supporters.

Akaash Maharaj, chairman of the party's policy committee, said he's reached a consensus among all camps to hold six regional debates before June 20. However, the final decision will be made by the convention organizing committee on Friday and party president Stephen LeDrew said the committee may decide to hold only five debates, leaving out one in the North and delaying some until the fall.

[LeDrew] said some organizing committee members believe "it's just not worth it" to hold a sixth debate in the North.

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