A WEST COAST POWER PLAYER

By tak­ing un­der­dog Stephane Dion to the Lib­eral party’s top job, Mark Marissen has proven him­self as a shrewd cam­paign strate­gist and shown his past suc­cesses were no fluke

Vancouver Sun - - Weekend Review - BY MIRO CERNETIG

It ’s a f t e r m i d n i g h t , last call ap­proaches and the evening’s fi­nal drinks are be­ing downed by a small group of Van­cou­ver jour­nal­ists, most bleary-eyed and a bit woozy. Not Mark Marissen, the quin­tes­sen­tial Lib­eral back­room boy, as the con­ver­sa­tion turns to his favourite topic: plot­ting the path to power.

The man now re­garded as one of the best po­lit­i­cal strate­gists in the coun­try sat at the ta­ble, calmly lis­ten­ing to the pre­dic­tions of those who had streamed out of the an­nual Jack Web­ster Foun­da­tion awards in Van­cou­ver for their tra­di­tional night­cap.

As he lis­tened, many of­fered up their pre­dic­tions of who would win the fed­eral Lib­eral lead­er­ship race, then still weeks away. An amused look crossed Marissen’s face.

Most in the bar pre­dicted easy vic­to­ries for Michael Ig­nati­eff or Bob Rae as the next fed­eral Lib­eral leader, the pre­vail­ing con­ven­tional wis­dom. No t M a r i ss e n . He e a ge rly b e ga n spin­ning, for any­one who would lis­ten, an al­ter­na­tive sce­nario that most, other than a per­cep­tive few, deemed a po­lit­i­cal fan­tasy from a guy who had seen bet­ter days.

“We want to be third on the first vote at the con­ven­tion,” in­sisted the cam­paign man­ager for Lib­eral lead­er­ship can­di­date Stephane Dion. “If we’re third on the first vote, Dion is go­ing to win the l e ad e rs h i p. Ju s t watch.”

“Sure,” re­sponded a lis­tener, not buy­ing that im­prob­a­ble sce­nario. Aiming for third place in pol­i­tics is a bit like set­tling for best man at your sweet­heart’s wed­ding, hardly the ideal out­come. “Maybe that will work, Mark. But I don’t think Dion has a chance.”

ASH­LEY FRASER/SPE­CIAL TO THE VAN­COU­VER SUN

If the Lib­er­als win the next fed­eral elec­tion, the boy from St. Thomas, Ont. — Mark Marissen — is likely to be­come one of the most power ful and plugged-in back­room play­ers in Canada.

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