Schwartz, Reisman to be influential players when Martin takes over
The Hill Times
October 13th, 2003
TORONTO — Canada's power couple Gerry Schwartz and Heather Reisman will be influential players when Paul Martin becomes Prime Minister. That's the word on the street.
Mr. Schwartz, president of Onex Corporation, and the top corporate fundraiser for Paul Martin's successful leadership campaign, will have helped raise an estimated and whopping $11-million by the Nov. 15 leadership convention. Mr. Schwartz's wife, Ms. Reisman, is head of Chapters Books.
"Except for Sheila Martin, Gerry and his wife are the people who have more influence on Martin than anybody," a top Liberal strategist told The Hill Times.
Mr. Schwartz's American Farm Inc. donated $75,000 and Onex Corp. donated another $75,000 to Mr. Martin's leadership campaign.
Mr. Schwartz and Ms. Reisman will also host a fundraiser dinner on Dec. 10 in Toronto. The dinner is expected to raise $2.4-million in one night and could pay off the Liberal Party's $1.5-million debt.
In last week's issue of The Hill Times, I prodded into the fascinating world of the people who may not necessarily sit in Cabinet and, in fact, most of them don't, but are the people to whom the next Prime Minister turns, and will turn, to for advice on important issues. I purposely left out the people who make up the powerful Greater Toronto Area and who will get the ear of the next Prime Minister of Canada.
"With the possible exception by Webster, they don't talk to the media or seek publicity," a source told The Hill Times.
"Webster," of course, is the prominent Toronto lawyer and Liberal strategist John Webster, president of Maple Trust, and the person who will be responsible for Paul Martin's troops on the ground. Mr. Webster was John Turner's campaign director, and is respected in Liberal quarters.
A big role will also be played by another prominent Toronto lawyer, John A. Campion, who is a senior partner of the law firm Fasken & Martineau and was involved in Mr. Martin's 1990 campaign. Mr. Campion could seek a seat in the Toronto riding of Rosedale, but will wait to see what Mr. Martin's executive assistant Tim Murphy or Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham will do first.
Moreover, three prominent members of the group are Barry Campbell, former MP and former Parliamentary secretary to Paul Martin; wealthy businessman and Liberal activist Al Pace; and influential strategist and author John Duffy.
Toronto lawyer Jeff G. Cowan, of Weir Foulds, who is also Mr. Martin's brother-in-law, will also play a prominent role along with Toronto consultant Paul Pelligrini, president of the Sussex Strategy Group.
Of course, all will be working closely with Gerry Schwartz: "He doesn't want anything in return," said the source, "but he is a person that Paul Martin will have a lot of time for." Mr. Schwartz, aside from the friendship, "is the No. 1 fundraiser."
The source said the dinner will be "the biggest fundraiser in terms of people present in Canadian history. Gerry is aiming a 3,500 people present and a table of 10 will cost $7,000."
Indeed, outgoing Liberal Party President Stephen LeDrew last week told the National Post's Bob Fife: "It will be biggest dinner [in the party's history]. I have no doubt the debt will be paid off before the end of the year."
The dinner will be called, the Leader's Dinner, not to be confused with the traditional Confederation Dinner, whose guest of honour was supposed to be Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. But that dinner was cancelled because they were not able to sell more the 300 tickets.
Meanwhile, what sort of role will Toronto Liberal Sen. David Smith, the point-man in Toronto for the Chrétien administration, play in the next government?
One Liberal source said: "I see David's role as the crucial bridge between the two factions. David will play the role between the Chrétien group and Martin's. Don't forget that David was the chairperson of the Confederation Dinner that was cancelled. Most people see him as the bridge. He will play a role but he is not the real insider."
Of course, the role played by those people will not be relegated to Toronto. Said the Grit source: "Schwartz will definitely have a national impact; furthermore, he and Campbell, will have an input on who is going to be in the Cabinet."
The insider said that "Gerry is definitely interested in being involved in economic and fiscal issues, as well as Campbell."
Then there is the business of forming the next government. "In fact, we are talking about two governments: one to win the elections, the second to run the country," said the Liberal.
In the first one "we will not see people easily identifiable with the past and Jean Chrétien's government," said the Grit insider.
Of course, there will always be places for people like Ralph Goodale, Anne McLellan, Maurizio Bevilacqua and others who have been with Mr. Martin from Adam and are still now. As for Bill Graham in Toronto, a lot depends on what Tim Murphy, Martin's chief of staff, will do. Some see Mr. Graham headed for a plum appointment abroad.
Mr. Martin will definitely bring new faces from Toronto. "This is a very confused and sensitive area especially because Martin's style is very quiet, confidential and people are very disciplined. Then you have very talented and volatile Italian-Canadians..."
The insider said he believe that "three junior people to be in Cabinet will be Carolyn Bennett, Albina Guarnieri and Joe Volpe."
Those are, however, only the first indications of a very complicated, sensitive, difficult and painful process and it's a process that will be also taking care of important issues Mr. Martin is very concerned about: "It's not that he takes Ontario for granted but he believes that the West, Quebec and the relationship with the United States are extremely important."
This, however, will be the subject of a future column.
© The Hill Times 2003
The Hill Times