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Liberals to be Serenaded by Canadian Rockers

Globe and Mail Update

The Liberal Party provided more details of its leadership convention Tuesday — an event shaping up to be more of a celebration of the party's accomplishments than a leadership race.

Because Paul Martin has already been declared the winner and will be crowned Liberal leader on Friday evening, the party is planning a more festive atmosphere than might usually be expected at a leadership convention.

Mr. Martin will make his acceptance speech at the convention in Toronto at 7 p.m. Friday.

Later, members of the party will be serenaded by a number of Canadian rock bands and will enjoy a rare appearance and speech by rock legend Bono of U2.

Bono will be joined by Grammy award-winning producer and singer-songwriter Daniel Lanois, and Halifax rockers Sloan.

Other bands in the lineup include singers Ron Sexsmith, Amy Sky and Canadian Idol contestant Audrey deMontigny.

Ms. Sky will sing the national anthem.

Bono, meanwhile, will not introduce or endorse Mr. Martin, but will speak for about 15 minutes about the AIDS crisis in Africa. The Irish singer and icon recently sent a letter Monday to outgoing Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, congratulating him for introducing generic drug legislation that would get cheap drugs to fight AIDS, malaria and other diseases to poor countries.

"This is so important, and puts Canada way out ahead in pioneering solutions so desperately needed by the poorest and most vulnerable. From the perspective of a pesky Irish rockster, your leadership in Africa will be a legacy that lives on and flourishes way beyond your time in office," the letter read in part.

Bono plans to thank both Mr. Chrétien and Mr. Martin for their commitment to the AIDS crisis. But he will also tell them that much more needs to be done.

Before Mr. Martin becomes leader on Friday, Thursday evening is being set aside for a tribute to Mr. Chrétien. The Prime Minister is expected to speak for about half an hour. The event will be hosted by Justin Trudeau, son of late former prime minister Pierre Trudeau.

Sheila Copps, the only other candidate besides Mr. Martin, who had only about 10 per cent of delegate support, will make a speech Friday morning before delegates cast their predetermined ballots. It is expected that Ms. Copps will back Mr. Martin and move the traditional motion that the convention make the winner's victory unanimous.

About 3,400 of a possible 5,500 paid delegates (it costs $995 to attend) are expected at the convention that begins Wednesday and ends Saturday.

With a report from Jane Taber and Campbell Clark

-- The Globe and Mail

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