Under the Maple Leaf: Shuffle time?

By MARK BLANCHARD  |  Jan. 3, 2003 at 2:00 PM
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TORONTO, Jan. 3 (UPI) -- Prime Minister Jean Chretien stayed in Ottawa over the Christmas holidays, a move that's sparked speculation of an impending Cabinet shuffle early in this year.

The theory goes something like this: If you're on your way out, you might as well reward those who've been loyal.

Chretien plans to retire in February 2004 so that would give any helpful Liberals a chance to serve at least a year in office before the next party leader takes over.

Former Finance Minister Paul Martin is widely expected to do just that and it makes sense he'd want to clean house of Chretien supporters in government posts, as he has already in the party.

Another suspicious sign -- a Cabinet retreat planned for mid-January has been rescheduled, giving Chretien another week to match the names with the list of possible appointments.

But perhaps even the most convincing piece of evidence -- Chretien and his wife usually enjoy soaking up some sun and golfing in Florida over the holidays.

Party insiders believe he's burning the midnight oil in Ottawa, preparing for his final year in politics.

Chretien may not always top the polls, but he does in this case.

The prime minister has been chosen Canada's top newsmaker by the country's newspaper, radio and TV editors. All because of his caucus trouble and plans to retire.

Paul Martin, the man he fired as finance minister, came in second.

Well, he may be retiring, but he hopes to keep politics in the family.

Progressive Conservative leader Joe Clark says he can see either wife Maureen McTeer or daughter Catherine Clark run for a seat in Parliament. It seems both are interested in the idea.

McTeer knows what it's like to run for office -- and the agony of defeat. She ran for a federal seat as a Conservative candidate in 1988, but lost.

Their daughter, 26-year old Catherine, recently married one of Clark's former aides, and proved to be popular with voters and photographers alike in the 2000 election campaign.

The younger Clark proved she can schmooze as well as Ottawa's savviest campaign veterans.

"She's obviously very good at this," her father predicted. "She might sometime in the future come back."

Something tells this columnist that would be a very wise bet.

And finally, another comeback story.

A Toronto drag queen has lowered his -- make that "her" -- political ambitions.

Yes, Enza "Supermodel" Anderson won't make another bid to be the city's mayor. Instead, Anderson will try for a seat as a city councilor this coming fall.

"A lot of these politicians have to change," Anderson says.

No word yet whether that means their voting record or their fashion sense.

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