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Last Updated: Saturday, 15 November, 2003, 03:07 GMT
Canada picks leader in waiting
Paul Martin
Martin made his name as a fiscal conservative
The governing Liberal party in Canada has chosen former Finance Minister Paul Martin as its new leader.

He takes over from Prime Minister Jean Chretien, and will inherit the premiership when Mr Chretien is due to retire in the coming weeks.

Mr Martin - an old rival of Mr Chretien - was sacked in June 2002 for launching a leadership campaign against the prime minister.

Mr Martin was overwhelmingly endorsed by a party convention on Friday.

He got 94% of the vote at the meeting in Toronto, against 6% to the only other contender, Sheila Copps.

Handover

As party leader, Mr Martin will automatically become prime minister, since the Liberals are the largest party in Canada's House of Commons.

Jean Chretien
Chretien has had a good innings, but Liberals want change at the top
The 65-year old former minister is widely respected by the financial markets, and won praise for bringing budgets under control during his tenure between 1993 and 2002.

"We succeeded in the last 10 years because we did not deviate from course - balanced budgets, a continually dropping debt-ratio, lower taxes," he said on Friday.

Mr Chretien - the longest-serving leader in the Western world - is preparing to stand down after a decade in office.

Mr Chretien told reporters he would meet Mr Martin next Tuesday to arrange the handover of power and would probably announce his departure date then.

An unnamed source close to Mr Chretien told Reuters news agency that the prime minister would leave office within two to four weeks.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Lee Carter
"It was like a coronation rather than a contest"



SEE ALSO:
Canada's Chretien bids farewell
14 Nov 03  |  Americas
Canada's PM sets resignation date
22 Aug 02  |  Americas
Country profile: Canada
28 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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