- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

The race to replace Prime Minister Jean Chretien just got interesting — for two big reasons.

First, former Finance Minister Paul Martin has finally filed his nomination papers for the Liberal leadership.

There was no glitzy announcement to officially launch his campaign this week. That will come later, he says, in his hometown of Montreal.

Instead, Martin supporters quietly dropped off the required paperwork and the mandatory $37,500 deposit at party headquarters in Ottawa Thursday.

But the documents garnered some big headlines for what they reveal — a commanding lead.

Martin has the support of 86 percent of Liberal association presidents in ridings, or districts, across the country.

In fact, his people boast their man has the support of key Liberals in every riding the party doesn't hold.

He also has commitments from every provincial president of the Young Liberals of Canada and of the Liberal Women's Commission.

No wonder many think Martin has the race locked up.

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Current Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister John Manley would disagree with that analysis.

He finally confirmed this week he plans to run in the race — and that is the second interesting development.

"We'll launch when we think it's appropriate to have an official launch," Manley told reporters. "But how many times do I have to say that I intend to run?"

Until now, he has been using the word "if."

Manley's change in language is a sign he isn't fazed by Martin's commanding lead.

One reporter asked him whether the contest would be a cakewalk for Martin.

Manley replied: "It hasn't even started yet."

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Health Minister Anne McLellan says she isn't running for the Liberal leadership.

The news comes as no real surprise, but clears up any lingering question of any other possible candidates from within the federal cabinet.

After 10 years in politics, McLellan thinks she can do more as an outspoken minister and fight for her home province of Alberta.

Her decision means Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, the first officially declared candidate, will likely be the only female name on the ballot at the party's convention this fall.

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And finally, Carolyn Parrish says she "can't guarantee" she won't do it again.

Call Americans "bastards," that is.

The Liberal Member of Parliament went on a late night TV talk show to apologize for insulting Canada's southern neighbors.

Her "Damn Americans, I hate those bastards," comment to a scrum of Parliament Hill reporters infuriated Canadians and Americans alike.

They bombarded her office with angry e-mail, but it seems the harshest criticism came from Parrish's mother.

She apparently didn't like hearing her daughter use the b-word on television.

"Honest to God, I thought I was thinking it," Parrish explained. "It just came out of my mouth.

"I opened my mouth, I inserted my foot, I wiggled my toes," she added. "I can't even guarantee I won't do it again."

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