Give him your tired politicos, the poor (or those with only a House of Commons pension to get by on), your huddled Liberals, yearning to be breathe free. Smilin' Jack has room for all. The latest recruit for the Smilin' Jack travellin' band is none other than that blast from the past Paul Hellyer. Seems that while Jack waits for Sheila to come to her senses and jump, he's busy trying to find more ancient warrior Libs to bolster the ranks of the socialist revolution.
Hellyer who is 80 years old has joined pretty well every party but the NDP, currently he's the leader of the less than well known Canadian Action Party. Hellyer, who first joined a Liberal government in the era of Louis St. Laurent, served in the Pearson and Trudeau cabinets, he is probably best know for his Unification of the Armed Forces which to this day remains one of the most controversial government moves ever.
He has been holding "talks" with Smilin' Jack about many issues of national importance. But seems to be hesitant to join a party called New Democratic, rather he would like his party to somehow factor into the name of a united new party. Layton thus far has diplomatically turned down Mr. Hellyer, offering him membership in the current name brand.
Most of the cards are in the hands of Smilin' Jack in this little bout of unity madness, in the 2000 election the Canadian Action Party only attracted 27,103 voters nationwide. Though they did vote to merge with the NDP if only they will change their name. Somehow I can't see Smilin' Jack getting rid of all the NDP campaign signs and stationery just to get 27,000 more votes.
With Hellyer considering his options his name gets added to the list of ancient warriors currently under the spell of Smilin' Jack. Lloyd Axworthy, Charles Caccia and Sheila Copps are all Liberals for whom Jack carries a torch. Recently he spent some time with well known Canadian Nationalist Mel Hurtig, who while remaining non committal, must surely be on the wooing list as well. Layton has successfully brought Ed Broadbent back from the political wilderness as a star candidate in Ottawa, but interestingly enough not one "name" under the age of 60. Guess he's writing off the youth vote.
One question that keeps popping into my head is; Why this fascination with old Liberals? How come the likes of Roy Romanow, Bob Rae, Stephen Lewis, Gary Doer to name a few are not in any hurry to rush to the cause. How come the former union names like Bob White , Nancy Riche and current
CLC President Ken Georgetti, don't throw their hats in the ring. Now show me some of those names, if they'll take the pay cuts and maybe I'll think things are happening. But digging up the names of the Liberal past (and not necessarily the A List Liberals at that) just doesn't seem like a forward thinking strategy.