Joe Volpe is facing increasing pressure from other Liberals to quit the party's leadership race in the wake of the kids' funding uproar.
Many Liberals expressed anger and exasperation that the Eglinton-Lawrence MP's acceptance of $27,000 in donations from the children of drug firm executives has revived the corruption issue that damaged the party in the last election.
His critics are not mollified by Volpe's decision to return the donations and the desire for him to quit the race is likely to be an issue among party members as they gather in Winnipeg on the weekend for the first leadership debate.
"This is not doing anyone in the party any good," said MP John McKay (Scarborough-Guildwood), who is supporting Toronto MP and former academic Michael Ignatieff in the leadership contest that culminates in Montreal the first weekend in December.
"Some people are disappointed, but the race must go on, and there are lots of candidates in this race," said Maurizio Bevilacqua, the Vaughan MP who is vying for his party's top job.
"More than anything, people are saying: `Haven't we learned our lesson from Gomery?'" said a senior Liberal who is backing former Ontario premier Bob Rae. Justice John Gomery's inquiry produced explosive evidence of Liberal wrongdoing under the ill-fated federal sponsorship program.
When the Liberal Party looks at Michael Ignatieff or Gerard Kennedy, they see what they want to be. When the Liberal Party looks at Joe Volpe, they see what they are.
Thus the viciousness with which the party is turning on Volpe.
But he will not go. He has been working towards this moment all his political career. His machine will decide who becomes the next Liberal leader, because it controls so much of the Toronto ethnic vote.
And we will all be treated to many delightfully entertaining stories about Volpe for months to come.
Source: Toronto Star