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Paul Martin, his Ontario co-chair, and Women's Clubs


The commission's constitution allows for the creation of women 's clubs in any federal riding across Canada and over the past two years, Paul Martin's team has been quietly setting up as many as possible. It takes 25 women to form a club and each club is allowed to send one delegate to the November convention. Last year, there were 17 clubs in Ontario, now there are 97. Across the country, Jaffer estimates there are now 250 clubs, most of them established in the last few months.

Brenda Kurczak, past president of the Liberal Party of Canada in Ontario, confirms that most of the clubs are clubs of convenience for Martin, so that he can beef up his slate of delegates. "The skeptical side of me says that two years from now, all of these clubs will be disbanded or dysfunctional," she says.

[Leadership hopeful Sheila] Copps organizers established about 50 of the new clubs, but only after Martin got the ball rolling. Sarmite Bulte, a Toronto-area MP, says Martin's organizational skills are awe-inspiring. "He was very strategic," she says. "By the time the others started, it was too late." In her riding, for example, the Martin-organized women's club is so clandestine, she says she doesn't know who its members are.

And that's one of the main reasons Paul Martin is expected to win.

Apparently the skepticism of Ms. Kurczak about these dysfunctional clubs of convenience did not make her ineligible for the job of campaign co-chair.

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