Promoting the mother corp!

4 fmr PMs gather again for TV competition
TORONTO (CP) – There were no fireworks but lots of smiles and handshakes Tuesday as four of the country’s former prime ministers got together for this year’s taping of “The Next Great Canadian Prime Minister,” a TV competition aimed at finding a young person with serious leadership potential.
The CBC Broadcast Centre in downtown Toronto was heavy with security and star power as Paul Martin, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark and Kim Campbell arrived to serve as judges for the show, airing on March 18.
Former Conservative prime ministers Clark and Mulroney, never the closest of political pals, greeted one another warmly as a svelte and stylish Belinda Stronach mingled with executives from Magna International and CBC, including president Robert Rabinovitch.
The Liberal MP’s father, Frank Stronach, Magna’s founder and chairman, started the popular nationwide contest in 1995.
It will be the second year the competition has been televised. CTV aired the show last season; this year, CBC snagged it with Rick Mercer as host.
For the most part, all of the ex-prime ministers – three Tories and a Liberal – steered clear of wading into current political events as they prepared to take the stage.
“I think Stephane Dion is doing very well,” is all a coy Martin, the sole Liberal, would say of his successor as party leader when asked what he thought of the current federal government.
Instead, Martin focused on the show.
“It clearly reaches out to young Canadians and I understand they constitute by far the largest percentage of the audience,” Martin said.
“They are the people we want to interest in public life, and what a great way to do it.”‘
Clark agreed.
“Aspiration is important and these are people who are very serious about their own futures and the country’s future,” he said.
“There’s a certain advantage to calling upon the reflections of the people who had the privilege of serving in the highest office of the country, and are now beyond partisanship and able to take a look at things without the edge that there was in earlier times.”‘
Clark, however, did weigh in briefly on the current Conservative government’s recent about-face on the environment.
“I’m glad their position’s changed and I hope they actually deliver on it,” he said.
Mulroney, meanwhile, held court under the glare of television lights to talk exclusively to a CBC crew. He reminisced about his years in power.
“You look back after a 10-or 15-year period and you think: ‘I thought what I did was right for the country,’ and either it’s proved to be the case or not,” Mulroney said, adding he was surprised by the vitriolic response to his free-trade stance when he was in power in the 1980s.
“I expected not a honeymoon but a bit of a walk in the park . . . but every day was a tough one.”
Of the ex-PMs, Mulroney has been the most active of late. He prodded Prime Minister Stephen Harper late last year on the environment, and within months the Tories had made the issue a top priority.
Last year, Mulroney was named the “greenest prime minister” by left-leaning magazine Corporate Knights.
The winner of “The Next Great Canadian Prime Minister,” whose identity won’t be revealed until the show airs, gets $50,000 and a six-month paid corporate internship. The remaining four finalists each receive $5,000 and three-month internships.
The five contenders – selected from among thousands of applicants – are subjected to televised grilling by the four ex-prime ministers and judged on how they answer the questions.
Last year’s winner was Deirdra McCracken of Sudbury, Ont., a political science graduate student at Laval University at the time. McCracken is now a spokeswoman for federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice.