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[P]
Jean Chrétien shooting himself in the foot?

By deniz in Op-Ed
Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 07:42:57 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Note: The cbc seems to be having problems loading pages. Just be persistent and the pages will serve eventually.

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien leads a seemingly charmed life, hiding a self-preserving shrewdness behind a bumbling facade. Despite much grumbling and several leadership challenges, he still leads the Liberal Party. Friday night, the PM announced he would fire cabinet ministers who do not cease their unofficial leadership campains. Now, Finance Minister Paul Martin, a long time favourite as successor for Party Leader, is considering  pulling out before being demoted. And despite the fact that by undermining his Cabinet's credibility, much less that of the Liberal Party, he may even cause a party split, Chrétien will most likely ride through this storm smelling like the proverbial roses.

Canada remains the largest exporter to the U.S., its southern neighbour. It is often seen as the U.S.'s polite neighbour and convenient doormat, as witnessed by Chrétien's nonchalance about the U.S.'s new self-appointed mandate to be responsible for the military security of the entire continent.


"They will have plenty of time to organize because they will not be ministers anymore," the PM stated. But this is a self-defeating goal. By strongarming any potential leadership rivals out of the cabinet, M. Chrétien is ensuring one of four scenarios: his cabinet will lose some of its most capable members, at a time when it is beset by rumours of conflict of interest scandals and needs to be re-stabilized; his party will lose some of its most capable leadership alternatives; certain Party members may just pull out and start a new party, taking with them a considerable number of supporters from the Liberals; or, somehow, the Canadian people will believe whatever M. Chrétien wants them to until he decides to retire.

The PM has already rid himself of some annoying burrs in his side in a surprise cabinet shuffle on Sunday evening, almost a week ago. How much sense did it make, though, to replace the Defense Minister, Art Eggleton, while Canadian Forces are deployed in Afghanistan as active troops? The Ministry of Public Works has changed hands three times in four months. This constant changing of the cabinet cannot lend confidence in its members besides leading to an instable government. It seems almost as if Chrétien is using this Ministry as his private dumping ground: any party member he wants disgraced suddenly becomes Public Works Minister. Dan Boudria, on the other hand, seems content to return to his former position of House Leader. He must be happy to be out of the line of fire and still with a modicum of respectability.

Jean Chrétien runs the risk of overplaying his conflict of interest card, however. The Opposition will always be accusing one member or another of whatever they can dig up, no matter how shaky the evidence. By bowing to them and getting rid of so many Ministers in the past few months, M. Chrétien could soon lead the Canadian public to believe that all Liberal Party members are corrupt. Why would this be bad? Because Chrétien would cost his party the leadership during the next vote of confidence due to his petty scheming.

The Prime Minister of Canada is not as immutable a position as that of the President of the U.S.A. Earlier this week, Chrétien was even quoted  saying, "It's always the same with him[the President of the U.S.A.], 'Yes, but the Senate, the House.'" He went on to say in Canada, the Prime Minister is responsible and can blame nobody else for its policies. Canadians vote for their local party representative to sit in the House. Whichever party wins the most votes gains leadership, with the Party Leader claiming the title of Prime Minister. The party which claims the next most number of seats in the House is termed the Official Opposition, with their leader as The Leader of the Opposition.

The Liberal party has enjoyed a majority government (where they not only have the most seats of all the parties, but hold the majority of those seats) for quite a long time. In part, the Liberal party's influence lies in the fact that the opposition have been split up among too many parties: The Progressive Conservatives (who split off the now long-gone Tories), the Alliance (which attempts to unite the parties of the Right so they could stop splitting seats), and the New Democratic Party are the most influential. If the Liberal Party were to split, they would most likely lose their position of leadership. Another way seats may be reassigned is to send Canadians to the polls in a "vote of confidence," which may be called by the PM or by the Leader of the Opposition.

"You know me, for 39 years I never ran away from a fight, so I'm not about to start at my age," he said Friday night. But will this stubborn refusal to back down cost the Liberals their position as the majority? As Party Leader, Jean Chrétien has a duty to his party and constituents to do what is best for the party. As Prime Minister, he even has the duty to serve all Canadian citizens.

The best place for potential leaders is in the Cabinet. There, they can be most beneficial to the party and prove their worth as potential leaders. It is the perfect place to test their worth and mettle, and to establish a track record. M. Chrétien, by contending that a Cabinet Minister cannot wage a leadership campaign and serve his post successfully, is slyly suggesting that anyone who has the potential to usurp him is harming the Liberals through neglect. By focusing on his not backing down, he is casting potential leadership rivals as either spineless, if they back down now, or agents sabateurs, looking for their own personal gain instead of the party's good.

Industry Minister Allan Rock said, "I'm going to focus on my fulltime job as minister of industry and stand behind the PM." Rock should have followed Sheila Copp's lead and said nothing. Instead, he'll have to sit back and watch the master at work.

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Poll
Jean Chrétien will
o push Paul Martin into finally trying to start his own party. 7%
o lose the next Leadership vote 12%
o announce he has been grooming his clone, Mini-Jean, as successor 37%
o continue to rule with an iron fist. The man got away with strangling citizens! 42%

Votes: 54
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Prime Minister
o considerin g
o pulling out
o Liberal Party
o cause a party split
o largest exporter
o military security of the entire continent
o conflict of interest scandals
o surprise cabinet shuffle
o Canadian
o Forces
o Also by deniz


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Jean Chrétien shooting himself in the foot? | 93 comments (57 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
not really Kuro5hin material (3.33 / 9) (#3)
by danny on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 09:41:06 AM EST

I can't see this sparking much of a discussion on Kuro5hin. I'm not uninterested in Canadian politics, for example, but I just don't know enough to say anything about it.

It needs something "extra" for the machinations of ordinary party politics in countries like Canada (or Australia) to be interesting to outsiders - some kind of tech angle, maybe, or something out of the ordinary.

Danny.
[900 book reviews and other stuff]

Let the votes decide... (4.50 / 6) (#11)
by deniz on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 10:44:33 AM EST

...whether it is kuro5hin material. And if my story is dropped, I'll move it to my diary. No big loss there. :)

[ Parent ]
Except.. (4.50 / 2) (#63)
by mindstrm on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:03:03 PM EST

There are a large number of Canadian participants on K5.

[ Parent ]
Eh, Men... (none / 0) (#70)
by Canar on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 01:34:25 AM EST

And that's all I have to say about that.

[ Parent ]
Think of it this way (none / 0) (#87)
by holycola on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 06:20:31 PM EST

Imagine if Cheney decided to resign as vp and run against Bush for the repub leadership. Something like that would be close.

-----
This is not a sig.
[ Parent ]
I find Canadian politics quite disgusting (3.75 / 4) (#29)
by theantix on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 01:02:54 PM EST

The lack of any viable opposition to the Liberals is a long-standing pet peeve of mine.  As you rightly point out, the Prime Minister controls all levels of the federal government to some degree.  And when they are virtually unchallenged, the potential for corruption is staggering.  Of course as you point out, the problem is not just with potential, but with the actual corruption that appears on a weekly basis.

Even worse is the internal power struggle that the Liberals are going through.  In a democracy the next leader of the country is chosen by election.  However in Canada it seems that our next leader will be chosen by the outcome of the Martin/Cretien power struggle that is ongoing.  

The problem of course is the lack of a viable opposition.  The NDP has been discredited in just about every province.  The PC's are being led by an ex-prime minister.  And the CA is just wacky.  If you don't follow the news here, you wouldn't believe it so I won't try to explain.

I strongly doubt that Martin will split off from the Liberals.  It would be too destructive, and he has always been brilliant at playing the game.  I have seen him give a speech one to my faculty at UBC, and he is a brilliant orator.  He knows that starting a new party will fragment canadian politics and not improve his chances of winning.  

Further, the Liberals do not seem to have the gumption to kick out Chretien.  Again, they have nothing to gain and too much to lose.  Change will only occur when Chretien loosens his grip on power.  Hopefully he feels more comfortable with his new mini-me (John Manley) and resigns soon.

Unfortunately, that won't help solve the problems with corruption because the Liberals will still be the only viable force in Canada.  However I'm pragmatic enough to hope that a change in leadership will help improve the situation a bit.  Not a lot, but a bit.

--
You sir, are worse than Hitler!

"Ex prime minister" (3.75 / 4) (#33)
by wji on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 03:07:11 PM EST

There's nothing at all unusual about that. Remember that in our system you can have an election just about any time. It's not like America where your ex-presidents are kind of washed-up losers. Hell, Joe Clark was defeated by an ex-prime minister. Plus he was very young at the time. (And, heheh, it doesn't really count if you're only PM for eight months).

In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
[ Parent ]
A little unusual (4.50 / 2) (#49)
by Scrymarch on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 08:28:31 AM EST

It seems a little unusual for the modern day even in Westminster systems.  You wouldn't see an ex-PM challenging for the leadership in Britain or Australia for instance, though long-lived politicians aren't unusual.  Losing an election seems to be a big blow to popularity.  (Though Australian PM John Howard lost an election as Leader of the Opposition, it was nearly 15 years until he led his party to an election again.)

Historically, though, the argument seems to be on your side, with plenty of politicians getting a few non-contiguous terms as PM.  Gladstone and Disraeli come to mind.  I'm not deeply familiar with Canadian politics; is it common for politicians to take turns at the top job?  How does this fit with the Liberals tag as the "natural party of government"?

I suspect the current membership of parties and parliaments worldwide, where they are dominated by people from a fairly narrow political class that decided their career at age 17, will lead to more former leaders getting one more shot at the title.


[ Parent ]

Well, (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by shrike7 on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:47:11 AM EST

Joe Clark is an aberration. He was Prime Minister for nine months in 1979-1980, lost an election, served in the next Conservative cabinet, then retired in 1993. The Tories got absolutely buried that year at the polls, and they were widely held to be a dead party. They had a brief recovery in 1997, after which their leader left to lead the Quebec Liberal Party (don't ask.) All of the other candidates to succeed him were nobodies, as befitted a weak party, so when Joe inexplicably ran for the leadership, he won. If the Tories were still a major force in the country, he would not have become leader again.
CXVI
[ Parent ]
Can't forget Dief (4.00 / 1) (#53)
by haflinger on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 12:22:17 PM EST

"Canada celebrated the Year of the Child by electing Joe Clark." Just imagine what he might have said if Joe didn't come from his party. :)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]
One thing that has always bugged me... (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by Trepalium on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 10:06:55 PM EST

None of the parties that has power have ever tried to do something with the Canadian senate. The tories tried to do something with the "Charlottetown Accord", as part of the other things they wanted to do to appease Quebec, but it failed. The Canadian senate is nothing more than the PM's appointed buddies, many of which, never bother to show up, and get paid anyway. In fact, the last election, I did vote for the Canadian Alliance party because they had a proposal to change this (which mimiced the Charlottetown Accord, if I'm not mistaken). The Canadian people pay them $70,000/yr, and if they can be bothered to show up in the senate, they get a bonus of $150/day. The senate only meets about 100 days per year, and senators can miss 21 of those days without losing any pay.

These people serve little or no purpose to us, currently. If the PM believes that a bill will not be able to pass the senate (it happens), he can just hold off on passing the bill until he has a chance to appoint new senators. The "Charlottetown Accord", for example, proposed to make the Senate elected by the public, and to have 6 senators from each province, and two for each territory (62 total, at the time). IMO, this would've finally put to rest the problem "the west" has with the electorial process in Canada, where the majority government is already decided long before the polls close in the western provinces, and maybe that silly media ban on electorial results could be abolished.

Unforunately, I don't think any of this will be changed by the liberals. The torries might, since they did have something to do with the last attempt. In retrospect, perhaps it was a real shame Canadians voted against the Charlottetown Accord just because of one or two things that they didn't like about it. Some people voted against it because of the special powers it granted the Quebec provincial government. Aboriginal voters could supported the accords position on self-government, but would vote No because there was not enough in the accord to protect their rights. In essence, most of us voted "no" because of minor quibbles with the proposal, not because of major problems with it.

[ Parent ]

Applicable to elsewhere in the Commonwealth (4.66 / 3) (#61)
by thebrix on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:34:39 PM EST

Just to show that Canada isn't alone and the item is not parochial, I rewrote the first three and sixth paragraphs by changing names and altering some of the terminology to British usage.

I thought it might work, and it does :( It's quite phenomenally accurate really:

The lack of any viable opposition to the Labour Party is a long-standing pet peeve of mine. As you rightly point out, the Prime Minister controls all levels of the central government to some degree. And when they are virtually unchallenged, the potential for corruption is staggering. Of course as you point out, the problem is not just with potential, but with the actual corruption that appears on a weekly basis.

Even worse is the internal power struggle that the Labour Party is going through. In a democracy the next leader of the country is chosen by election. However in the United Kingdom it seems that our next leader will be chosen by the outcome of the Blair/Brown power struggle that is ongoing.

The problem of course is the lack of a viable opposition. The Conservative Party has been discredited in just about every region. [...] If you don't follow the news here, you wouldn't believe it so I won't try to explain. [...]

Unfortuately, that won't help solve the problems with corruption because the Labour Party will still be the only viable force in the United Kingdom. However I'm pragmatic enough to hope that a change in leadership will help improve the situation a bit. Not a lot, but a bit.

[ Parent ]

Maybe this is good for Paul? (4.83 / 6) (#32)
by pyra on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 02:28:58 PM EST

As a long time Liberal party supporter (other parties in this country either a.) just don't seem to have what it takes or b.) scare me), I can never help but feel that Jean Chrétien knows exactly what he's doing, even when it looks to the rest of us like he's being a total moron.

Everyone is worried now about the possibility that Paul Martin is going to walk out on the party due to what really looks like continued belittling from the PM, but I remember an awesome statement from about a year or so ago that Chrétien made when talking about his experiences with then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau back in the late 70s, early 80s: (I'm paraphrasing here since I don't have a source for the actual quote) "...you know, I used to think I was a real hot shot back then, but I was really just the Finance Minister"

I think (at least I hope), that Chrétien wants Martin to be the next leader of the Liberal party, but I also think that C. doesn't want it to happen to soon. The Liberals need to wait until an appropriate time to choose a new leader, they shouldn't be trying to do it now when the party is already starting to look weak. C. should wait until the current storms blow over (which they will) and the party is back on it's feet again (even though they could easily win an election if it was held today based on what the CBC tells me :), and then hand over the reigns to Martin (or whichever other leader the party chooses...I think they'd be silly not to choose Martin) and make it be a show of strength, not weakness.

Are the Liberals doing the best job that they could of running the country now?, probably not.

Could another party possibly do a better job? The Progressive Conservatives maybe...if Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell hadn't destroyed their chances of legitimacy for the next 15 years or so.






--
"It was half way to Rivendell when the drugs began to take hold" - Hunter S. Tolkien "Fear and Loathing in Barad Dur"
Great for Paul (5.00 / 1) (#78)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:50:30 AM EST

Chretien went out and said if you're going to be running a leadership campaign, get out of my cabinet. So Martin says he needs to "think about his future" in the cabinet. On Sunday, there are some goings on, and Chretien holds an emergency signing-in at Rideau. Martin goes to the press and says he had talked with Chretien, but that the end of the conversation was that he would decide later today. Then he found out on the radio that he had been replaced.

I don't know what actually happened, but Paul comes out of it looking like the guy just trying to do his job, who said he'd decide whether or not to leave later that day, and was fired before being given the opportunity to resign. Paul, of course, could have orchestrated that, but one way or the other he comes out looking hard-done-by by the PM.

So now, not only is he the legitimate successor to Chretien (as much as Chretien may not like that), he is also the guy that Chretien disrespected in front of the entire country, for nothing worse than wanting his job.

Chretien looks like a dictatorial ingrate, and Martin looks like the cool-headed heir apparent. It's great for Martin, because it increases the chance of his winning the leadership review in February.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

This paragraph is incorrect... (4.83 / 6) (#35)
by Giant Space Hamster on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 04:35:58 PM EST

The Liberal party has enjoyed a majority government (where they not only have the most seats of all the parties, but hold the majority of those seats) for quite a long time. In part, the Liberal party's influence lies in the fact that the opposition have been split up among too many parties: The Progressive Conservatives (who split off the now long-gone Tories), the Alliance (which attempts to unite the parties of the Right so they could stop splitting seats), and the New Democratic Party are the most influential. If the Liberal Party were to split, they would most likely lose their position of leadership. Another way seats may be reassigned is to send Canadians to the polls in a "vote of confidence," which may be called by the PM or by the Leader of the Opposition.

"Tories" is a nickname for the Progressive Conservatives (like "Grits" for the Liberals).

Here's a quick description of the Canadian political parties:

  • Liberals - current governing party; slightly left of center
  • Conservative Alliance - regional party from the western provinces; formerly called the Reform pary; right wing
  • Progressive Conservatives - second national party; still rebuilding from a spectacular defeat in 1993; slightly right of center
  • New Democratic Party - third national party; never very big federally; left wing
  • Bloc Quebecois - regional party from Quebec; I think they're slightly right of center, but it's pretty irrelevant as their main goal is Quebec's separation from Canada.
Traditionally, either the Liberals or the Conservatives have governed Canada, as the Bloc or the Alliance were rather irrelevant prior to 1993.

-------------------------------------------
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russell
don't you read Southam? (4.00 / 2) (#39)
by mikpos on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 08:04:45 PM EST

Canadians don't know political left from right. You must be wrong, duh. Still, the editorials that followed the Southam poll were in the most part, right on the money: applying "left" and "right" to ANY political system is retarded; applying it to the Canadian system is just plain insanity. There were many good cases given for where the Canadian Alliance is much further left than the NDP is (speaking in terms of the colloquial definitions of left and right).

In any case, in terms of economic policy (which I assume is what you meant), the Bloc is very far to the left, probably even further than the NDP. Also, they've mellowed substantially on the idea of sovereignty in the past five years. For all intents and purposes, the Bloc Quebecois is the populist socialist party of Canada. I don't think I've heard anyone from the BQ speak the word "separation" since I was in high school.

[ Parent ]

Liberals left of centre? (4.66 / 3) (#40)
by istevens on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 08:10:11 PM EST

Liberals - current governing party; slightly left of center
As far as recent Canadian politics are concerned, the present-day Liberals are really right-of-centre neo-conservatives, continuing where the PC government which preceded it left off. I will grant you that, socially, they are left-leaning but, economically and politically, they are corporatist and conservative. One need only look at their deficit-cutting measures which have taken money from social programs and cut various transfers to the provinces to see where their economic roots lie. Paul Martin is consistently pandering to the business elites, lowering corporate taxes hither and thither.

Honestly, I'm not sure where Canadian politics can turn these days. The Liberals have become too smug for their own good, the Canadian Alliance is not a suitable alterative as far as I am concerned, and the Progressive Conservatives still haven't got their act together since they were thrown out of Parliament Hill. The only thing I can hope for is a minority Liberal government which is required to woo the NDP for support. Canada needs a shake-up, and I'd much rather it go left than right. As John Raulston Saul points out in Reflections Of A Siamese Twin:

"No Canadian government has ever been defeated in a general election by a party running to its right. In other words, Canadians have never consciously voted for the choice of the right. Or, put another way, the idea of the right, as understood by each generation, has never been taken as a real option by Canadians."
I really hope that this remains true in the next federal election. It scares me numb to think of the Canadian Alliance in power. Not only would Canada get more right-leaning economic policies, we would be met with a further right-leaning social stance as well. You can bet that programs, and with it the country, would be dismantled at a faster rate than it is currently.

ian.
--
ian
Weblog archives
[ Parent ]

It depends... (4.00 / 2) (#42)
by Giant Space Hamster on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 08:57:24 PM EST

It depends mostly on where you put the centre, I guess. The spectrum goes Alliance->Conservative->Liberal->NDP (ignoring the Bloc).

In all cases, the left-right thing is pretty relative. I remember seeing an Off the Record once that had both Preston Manning (at the time leader of the Reform/Alliance party) and Ron Jeremy (porn star from the USA). Manning started talking about the importance of health-care and Ron Jeremy went "This is what you Canadians call conservative ?!?"

It was highly amusing.

-------------------------------------------
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
-- Bertrand Russell
[ Parent ]

but the NDP just doesn't work (3.50 / 2) (#44)
by deniz on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:10:27 AM EST

I have a friend who ran as NDP candidate in his riding (he lost). A year later, he moved out of home and quickly discovered that the NDP just plain doesn't work when your income is near the poverty level. Funnily enough, their ideas work for the middle class, from where they get their members and their support.

To anybody else, all the NDP can sell is idealistic smoke which obscures those pesky real-life considerations.

[ Parent ]

You're both wrong (or maybe you're both right) (4.66 / 3) (#47)
by Ian Clelland on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:54:15 AM EST

'Tories' is currently the popular nickname for the Progressive Conservative party, but the name was originally applied to the Conservative party.

The PC party didn't 'split' from the Tories; rather, the Tories merged with the Progressive party sometime in the 40's to form the PCs (they wanted to form a party which would be strong enough to beat the Liberals -- a recurring theme in Canadian politics even 60 years later.)

'Progressive Conservative' is still one of my favourite oxymorons.

[ Parent ]

Mostly accurate. (4.50 / 2) (#52)
by haflinger on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 12:17:55 PM EST

Some glitches, though. The Bloc Québecois, like their provincial cousins, the Parti Québecois, are a left-wing, socialist party. The first leader of the BQ, Lucien Bouchard, was a former Tory, but he didn't really fit well with the overall economic attitude of the separatist movement. The Alliance Party is simply called that, the Alliance Party; it was formed out of the Reform Party, a Western conservative protest party, but the intention was to merge Reform with the Progressive Conservatives (hence the name Alliance); several PCs joined, including their previous leader, Stockwell Day (although he has been recently replaced by Stephen Harper, a Reformer).

The Conservative party founded Canada: Sir John A. MacDonald, an inveterate drunkard, was our first Prime Minister. He was replaced by a Whig, whose name I forget, whose main virtue was temperance. The Whigs became the Liberal party and ran Canada for most of the 20th century, with Conservative interruptions from time to time. In the second half of the 20th century, there were a number of minority governments; most of those were Liberal prime ministers with the NDP as coalition partners. (In 1979, the Conservatives had a short-lived coalition with the NDP; it ended when the Conservatives ignored NDP objections to their budget.)

Did people from the future send George Carlin back in time to save rusty and K5? - leviramsey
[ Parent ]

nit-picking (4.00 / 1) (#82)
by JahToasted on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 03:33:48 PM EST

John A. MacDonald lost to Alexender Mackenzie, who promised "honest, frugal government" which he delivered. Of course he lost the next election since people didn't really want honest frugal government, they really wanted RAILROADS. So good ole John A got back in and later died in office.

You also called them "whigs" when I think you meant to call them "grits" as it was the Clear Grit Party that later was renames the Liberal Party. The whigs were the British guys back in the 18th century (or at least that's how I remember it)
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Paul Martin (4.33 / 6) (#36)
by ebatsky on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 04:54:29 PM EST

Actually, it is widely speculated that Jean Chretien will not be running for reelection after his current term is up. I don't remember if he ever confirmed or denied this himself, but newspapers mention this almost every week. Paul Martin happens to be the leading candidate to take over the party leadership seat, so it wouldn't be very smart of him to split off and start his own party.

speculation (4.00 / 1) (#50)
by calimehtar on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 11:01:27 AM EST

But isn't this "don't run for leadership" edict a strong sign that he wants to hold onto it and run again? Maybe not... but anyway if Paul Martin were to somehow run for PM against Chretien (say as leader of the Tories) I'd vote for him in an instant. I like the liberal party and would have voted for Jean (indirectly, of course, this ain't the USA :) last time around had I thought any more votes were needed to get him in... But enough's enough: the liberals are fat and corrupt, the one-party system is getting to be a bore. Hell, I'd even vote for the Alliance party if I though they had a chance.

That's my rant for today, thanks for listening.



[ Parent ]
Interesting comment... (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by MikeyLikesIt on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 11:26:09 AM EST

Hell, I'd even vote for the Alliance party if I though they had a chance.

That's interesting logic - I will assume the contrapositive that if you think that they don't have a chance, you won't vote for them.

What sense is there in voting only for a party that you think will win? If everyone thought this way the Liberals would always get 100% of the vote, since (for the last 3 elections) they're the only one that have had a snowball's chance in hell of winning a majority government.

[ Parent ]

It makes more sense than you think... (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by pyra on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:15:24 PM EST

Most people want their local MP to be in the governing party because that means that their MP might actually have a chance of getting things done for them.

This is why they started delaying poll results on TV in the eastern part of Canada: British Columbians would pretty much be able to tell who was going to be the government after the Ontario results came out (which was before the polls closed in Pacific time) and would vote so that their local MP was in the ruling party.

It's all well and good to have an independent or grassroots party candidate (like whats-his-face the Liberal guy who went independent a few years ago), but really the way the Canadian system works with our constant majority governments, if you aren't in the ruling party, you have no power.




--
"It was half way to Rivendell when the drugs began to take hold" - Hunter S. Tolkien "Fear and Loathing in Barad Dur"
[ Parent ]

More than that (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:37:55 AM EST

It's not just a matter of wanting your representative to be a member of the government. If the government is going to be liberal, and you want a liberal candidate, but the liberal candidate doesn't have a good chance of winning, people will vote for their most-favorite candidate with a real chance of winning. The reason is the first-past-the-post system, which requires strategic voting in order to get the best result for the individual voter.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

I'm the opposite (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by JahToasted on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 03:37:28 PM EST

I vote NDP, but I wouldn't if I thought they had a chance of winning.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Corruption (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by dave114 on Sat Jun 01, 2002 at 06:18:43 PM EST

By bowing to them and getting rid of so many Ministers in the past few months, M. Chrétien could soon lead the Canadian public to believe that all Liberal Party members are corrupt.

Too late. As the newspapers in Canada reported a little while ago, the results of a survey were released suggesting that 69% of Canadians feel that their government is corrupt. (I dug up a link if you're interested in a little bit more detail).

dumb polls (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by TheLogician on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:29:17 PM EST

I question the validity of those newspaper polls. I saw a program on CBC that explained how those polls are quick, easy ways to attract a large audience by instantly giving them "credible evidence" for some garbage headline. I don't know if what they were saying was true, but I don't look very deeply into those polls. Besides, I would think that most people think the government is corrupt, but it's the best solution that we've got.

[ Parent ]
It's actually pretty funny (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by protus on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:05:23 AM EST

Jean was using the firing of Art as a diversionary tactic.. he is fighting off the image of himself being corrupt, so he is sacrificing cabinet members in the vain hope that people will think he's clean.
I'm not sure how screwed the liberals are right now.. unless the NDP creates a decent federal party, they have virtually no oposition (unless BQ gets enough votes in quebec to have a majority vote.. which would be scary, to say the least). I mean, the Canadian public, as a whole, is very liberal (as in 'left leaning'). Unless there is a strong voice from a party which would like to protect social programs, while not raising taxes and still be able to handle foreign policy correctly, the liberals are not screwed.
(forgive the lack of eloquence, i haven't slept in about a day and a half; I'm doing some scholarship stuff and it just won't end)

long horses we are born; creatures more than torn; mourning our way home.

I don't think anything can hurt him now (4.66 / 3) (#48)
by 0xA on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 07:59:29 AM EST

Try as they might I don't think that anyone count mount a serious challenge to Cretien yet. Paul Marthin definately wants to but seems very impatient about it. At lest part of that is the media focus on the issue, the papers are correct in asuuming the stuggle to lead the Liberals is the stuggle for PM and will be for some time.

Canadian federal politics is very stagnant right now. The liberals and the PCs before them were all basically thieves and haven't really acomplished anything. Trudeau was the last PM to do anything remotely important.

However, the current govenment are pretty good administrators, for the most part things are humming along okay. The Americans are still picking on us all the time and the health and pension systems are on course to run themselves into the ground. This has been true for 20 years. There is nobody in Candaian politics that has a freakin clue about what to do about any of it so we are probably better off with the status quo.

Quite honestly, as an Albertan, I live is fear of the idea that the Candian Aliance may actually win a majority in the future. I can't think of anything that would be worse.

It is serious for Cretien... (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by bobzibub on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 02:53:57 AM EST

Paul Martin is the most respected mp in the house.  One does not turf out an individual like that without paying some price.  I'm no Liberal (probably more CA) but kicking out someone that was doing a very good job, simply because you didn't like the fact that he is going to be the next Liberal contender will be seen as petty and small.  
Cretien always had that streak in him.  Remember the Conrad Black knighthood business?  

<big rant> ; )

Personally, I think the Liberal government has been stagnant with no clear direction.  They spend taxdollars on manipulating their image but little else.  They've had so many scandals that do not stick, but almost all have to do with unnacountable spending.

Policy such as this is very detrimental to the living standards of Canadians.  I live in the US and I can tell you that the difference in wealth is real.  Their median disposable income is leaving Canadian's behind.  The Liberals (and Conservatives) have done little to stem the drain on the economy.

They should not fund fountains.  They should not fund companies.  They should not fund advertising for "ra ra Canada" programs.  They should focus the federal government on things it does well, and leave the rest to the provinces, or the market place.  There can be plenty of room for a universal health system within these constraints.  

I sometimes watch the UK House of Commons with Tony Blair.  The issues discussed there are so more relevant than the tired pot shots in the Canadian version.  (Not perfect tho', but at least Blair shows up regularly.)  
Watch an interview of Tony Blair and note not simply how he can articulate his ideas where Cretien cannot (I know this is not Cretian's fault for more than one reason) but that there are focused ideas and vision behind what he says, and this is where Cretien importantly fails.  Blair can have a lively, in-depth conversation on an amazing breadth of issues before resourting to a cheap shot on the opposition.  

The Liberals are working to maintain the status quo in government despite a changing world.  Blair and his Labour party so much more ideas driven... It is simply embarrasing as a Canadian to see our government mirroring the age and dynamism of a 70s Kremlin.  Can you not imagine these people reviewing the Russian troops goose-stepping?  I can.

Not that I agree with Blair on many issues, but the fact remains that he is a clear example of why Cretien and Paul Martin and Clark must all go.  (I don't know much about the new CA leader, but I've heard he's uninspired.)

These people are holding back a new generation of leaders that Canada desperately needs.  I mean, half of their peers (such as Trudeau) have passed away--do we want the normal path out of office to be death by natural causes?  These people are not spring chickens.  Turf 'em all.  Let them live their sunset years as professors, senators or diplomats if we must but they ought not strangle our political system any longer.

Say what you want about the Alliance, but Manning was a class act.  He also knew enough to get out when his time had come.  

</big>

Ahhh... much better!

Cheers,
-b

[ Parent ]

You are right about most of that but... (3.00 / 1) (#73)
by 0xA on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 10:06:46 AM EST

I agree completely with most of your comments, we would be much better off without the Liberal government. The problem still is who the hell are we going to put in there?

Since Stephen Harper won the CA leadership he hasn't actually done anything but attack the government MPs with the conflict of interest stuff. I have no idea what the man stands for, not for lack of trying to find out either. Of course his potential government would also have the rest of the CA wackos along with so forget that idea.

The only politican I have any connection with (meaning I identify with him and would support him) is Dumont in Quebec. Young, dynamic, interesting ideas etc. But I don't live there anymore and he's in provincial politics so that's out too. I was also impressed with Manning, I just found that in trying to start the Reform party he ended up with a lot of really strange people along with him. He even tried to get my Uncle (a COMPLETE ass) to run with him at one point.

I don't want to see a group get to form a government becuase they aren't the Liberals. It seems to be part of the Canadian culture that we identify ourselves by contrasting ourselves against others (the silly Ra-Ra Canada shit). I don't see us being better off that way. The only party I actally wanted to vote for last year were the communists. I thought it was funny, now I think it's sad.

I'm happy for you that you managed to escape the the US and make a better living, I would love too but I don't have a degree so it is much more difficult.

[ Parent ]

being a doormat (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by karb on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:20:14 PM EST

It is often seen as the U.S.'s polite neighbour and convenient doormat, as witnessed by Chrétien's nonchalance about the U.S.'s new self-appointed mandate to be responsible for the military security of the entire continent.

Why is this bad? In the modern day, a U.S. military base abroad is usually a leased piece of land, there for logistical reasons, from which the U.S. wields no real power. It is only at the permission of the national government that we are there, and if permission was removed U.S. forces would be required to leave.

Which means that the hosting country gets some military service (from arguably the best in the world) for free. They get an economic boost from the american bas and soldiers with money to burn.

This is especially the case with Canada and Japan (and others, like south korea, taiwan, etc.). Canada isn't much of a target, granted, but the fact that the U.S. being secure relies on Canada being secure results in the U.S. spending a whole mess of money for canada's security.

And, again, in colonial times this might have been bad, but modern U.S. bases abroad exert no actual power on local governments. I fail to see why having the U.S. military protect you is a bad thing.
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?

Why it's bad (4.00 / 2) (#55)
by Ken Pompadour on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:38:04 PM EST

The United States can influence Canadian policy. Pot would have been legal years ago if it wasn't for US pressure.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
[ Parent ]
Perhaps (4.00 / 1) (#59)
by karb on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:48:10 PM EST

Any country that wants to legalize pot can do it. Canada might not be able to economically afford the incredibly strict border controls that would result from legalization, but the U.S. ultimately cannot prevent Canadians from doing something they want to do. I suspect that if a majority of Canadians were willing to vote for politicians that supported legalization, the U.S. would have no say in the matter (but would throw a fit anyway).

Besides, one or two people on k5 (like yours truly) things that keeping pot illegal is a good thing, so that's not the best example :)
--
Who is the geek who would risk his neck for his brother geek?
[ Parent ]

I like it (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:22:13 AM EST

Private members' bills have already called for the legalization of pot, and they would have passed if not for the essentially punitive predicted reaction of the United States. So Canadians have voted for politicians that support it. But they can't do it.

We could also vote in a number of politicians that believe we should invade the inland northwest. But we wouldn't be able to do that either.

I would like to say, however, that this has more to do with trade than it has to do with defense.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Don't get out much do you? (4.00 / 1) (#84)
by JahToasted on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 04:12:48 PM EST

Anytime any country anywhere near the US even hints at legalizing anything the US threatens reducing aid, sanctions, or uses any other leverage they have to prevent it. A commission in Jamaica suggested that there would be benefits to legalizing marijuana for presonal use. The very next day the US Embassy demanded that the commissions recommendation be rejected or they take away all funding for various programmes in Jamaica.

Of course since marijuana is controlled by the gangs that means the gangs will have more money to buy American guns. Which side is America on in the war on drugs again?

Of course it is the right of the US to take away funding if they so desire. The United Stated can use it as leverage if they want. But don't say that the US will allow another nation to legalise weed if there is anything they can do to stop it (this includes interfering with another nation's democratic process).

Don't ever assume that the US is too moral to do the wrong thing.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Treaty (none / 0) (#92)
by Scrymarch on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:21:33 PM EST

Any country that wants to legalize pot can do it.  

Except that most countries in the world have signed a treaty not too.  They can still fudge it by decriminalising (like The Netherlands, some states in Australia) but no more.  Unfortunately I don't have a link to hand, but the Economist survey on the War on Drugs a while back mentioned it ...

And it would be bad form to unilaterally withdraw from treaties, as the US well knows :)

[ Parent ]

Come to Cuba (none / 0) (#86)
by xxxlucasxxx on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 06:10:11 PM EST

Karb,

I don't think Castro is too happy about the US base in Cuba. I don't think that he feels secure by the fact that there is a leased base on his island. If Canada went Commie, I think the US bases wouldn't be isolated and insular to the fact. "if permission was removed U.S. forces would be required to leave", that's crap, ask Castro.

As for the US relying on Canada being secure bs, I can't figure out who would attack. Who has the means to launch such an assault, who has the means to protect themselves from a US counter attack, if not a specific country then where are all these terrorists getting all of these fleets, airforces, and masses of well armed men to pull off such an attack? Continent security is mostly a joke except that it has hijacked ideas of sovereignty and gets everyone thinking that the best defense is an over priced missle. Hitler figured out the imaginary line that France set up to keep the Germans out. Continental security will work about as well (and cost a whole lot more), of course in a much different way (check the news on September 11, 2001 for a good idea of how well it will work). I don't want to flame, but I will anyways - who fed you this shit?

xxxlucasxxx

[ Parent ]

Cuba's a different story (none / 0) (#90)
by enry on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 09:14:58 AM EST

http://www.nsgtmo.navy.mil/gazette/History/Brief%20History.htm

Both countries have to agree to end the agreement in Cuba. I don't think the US wants to end that quite yet.

[ Parent ]

Is this an exception? (none / 0) (#91)
by xxxlucasxxx on Tue Jun 04, 2002 at 03:19:17 PM EST

Enry,

So can Castro get rid of the base? No. Would Canada be able to shutdown US bases in Canada? I would think Canada has about the same chance that Castro does. If it isn't by some deal for gold there will be another loop hole.

Miltary bases are not objects of affection, they serve as means of extending violent influence. If they are needed to influence local governments, even better since they don't have to travel very far. Bases in the Far East are in small part there for local protection and in large part to extend the US stick. You may think that a base is there to be friendly but in fact it uses fear as a means to influence. As we all know, they aren't used to send in the clowns.

In the end bases are not for local interest but for US interest, and until US interests change most likely the base will stay. This isn't friendly stuff.

[ Parent ]

Canadian Party Politics Fall Down, Go Boom (4.60 / 5) (#56)
by CheeseburgerBrown on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 01:58:46 PM EST

I don't think that a new party is really a viable option, and I have trouble believing that Paul Martin would think so, either. We already have political parties coming out of our keisters, and recent federal elections serve only to keep us teetering on the brink of having coalition governments (which is far too hot-blooded and messy a situation for Canadians to tolerate -- the press would get tired).

I see this most recent round of Chretien/Martin public sparring as just another embarrasing event in the continuing devolution of Canadian party politics. I reckon that at some point the situation will become dire enough, bloody enough or silly enough that a new paradigm will be forced to evolve.

(It probably *won't* involve everybody's favourite big-haired toastmaster Jean Charest. That ship has sailed.)

Personally, I'm anxious for the system to collapse to the extent that real change occurs (not pseudo-change, a la Canadian Alliance). Canadian politics does not need a saviour, it needs a disaster.

These days there is a broad array of possible crises that an incompetent Canadian government can fumble -- far more than just your father's dog-and-pony Quebec separation crisis! Take your pick from terrorist attacks, funding corruption, wet-paper-bag national sovereignty, bulemic currency, and more. It may be unfortunate that Canadians can only be spurred to political action (or at least vague interest) by the most immediate of threats, but it seems to be an inescapable truth (remember the referendum of 1995?).

That being said, Paul Martin's best option may be to secretly aid Quebec separatists into becoming a major national irritating factor again, and then ascend to leadership atop a wave of support based on his ruthless and decisive way of dealing with the situation. Next, he dispatches his agents to create a grand clone army... -- wait a minute. Nevermind.

_____
I type, you read.
well the feds go nuts, the Ontario Tories do what? (4.50 / 2) (#58)
by westcourtmonk on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 03:18:24 PM EST

Chretian is a crazy old coote. Ever since Trudeau died Chretian has gotten more brazen, more flippant, more of a problem. But who could replace him?

What he is doing now is outrageous. If our Governer General had any power, if there were checks in place, Mr Chretian would be calling a vote of confidence tomorrow and there would be an election soon. I bet if Martin said so, the liberals would vote against Jean.

How is he representing our nation? our freedoms? our laws?

Then we have Ontario. You sell hydro, illegally, then create retroactive legislation to make it legal. Can anyone else see something wrong here? Again no checks.

The people need to demand recourse. We must not accept this silly buggery that is our political system.

Referendum politics ... (4.50 / 2) (#67)
by istevens on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 07:43:53 PM EST

This is a phenomenon where those elected into power feel that they have the mandate to do whatever they want for the next four or five years. Traditionally, Canadian governments have attempted to represent and consider the entire spectrum of the citizenry. Within the past ten or fifteen years, though, provincial and federal governments have started to view their election as a blank cheque to do whatever they wish, regardless of the views of the populace. Increasingly, the voting population does not matter and the view among many of the elites is that they just get in the way of the real business of running a country or a province.

This is how the Ontario government justifies selling off the hydro system, drastically cutting spending on social programs and education, and brushing off protests from anyone as the voice of "special interests" (eg. not "real" voters). We elected them by majority, so they should be able to do whatever they please, and if we don't like it we can just vote against them in the next election.

The trouble is, voters quickly forget and Canadians secretly enjoy these attacks against them as it gives them fodder to fuel their view of themselves as victims: victims of the elites, victims of US interests, victims of French interests, victims of English interests, victims of eastern interests, victims of western interests, etc. Everyone is a helpless victim.

How soon can this go on? Probably for as long as those in power continually view elections and elected representatives as a necessary evil. It can go on as long as voters don't care to delve into the deeper issues of Canadian politics and accept the largely emotional arguments from those in power.

ian.
--
ian
Weblog archives
[ Parent ]

Enjoy, or Forget? (none / 0) (#75)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:13:28 AM EST

We cannot enjoy that which we forget. As much as I might like to see a change in government, I don't think you can say that the most centrist, widest spectrum party, and the one without vote-splitting on its side of the political spectrum, was elected repeatedly because Canadians like being victims.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Non-Confidence might be closer than you think (none / 0) (#88)
by MstlyHrmls on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 08:58:40 PM EST

If our Governer General had any power, if there were checks in place, Mr Chretian would be calling a vote of confidence tomorrow and there would be an election soon. I bet if Martin said so, the liberals would vote against Jean.

I was listening to some interesting speculation on the CBC; one of their commentators said that there are some funding bills before the House this week, which are, by convention, votes of confidence (just ask Joe Clark). With polls stating that as of last weekend (before the Martin fracaas) ~59% of Canadians felt that Cretien should step down (it's probable that that number has increased with the latest events), Mr. Martin could conceivably stage a caucas revolt. If he could convince enough of his followers (say, 20 of them) to be "sick" for that vote, it would spell the end of the Cretien government. Then the honourable Governer General gets to earn her pay and figure out what happens next...

Mike
--
Don't anthropomorphise computers. They hate that.
[ Parent ]

Martin's been fired. (4.00 / 2) (#62)
by mattmcp on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 04:54:48 PM EST

CBC reported about half an hour ago that Jean has fired Paul. The likely successor to Martin is John Manley according to the CBC's best sources.

Chretien claims he resigned (4.00 / 1) (#79)
by gauntlet on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 11:59:25 AM EST

One of Chretien's PMO members was on TV saying that "There was an understanding" that Martin would leave. He said he read a draft letter indicating their understanding that Martin would resign.

Martin went on TV and said that the guy had asked him to sign that letter as a joint letter with the PM. He said he refused, and said he would give his decision by Monday morning at the latest. He also said that the decision had been made moot by the PM's actions. (In French, he said "events have caught up with us.")

At Rideau hall, rather than answer questions as to whether or not Martin had resigned, the Prime Minister shoved Manley in front of the microphone.

Into Canadian Politics?
[ Parent ]

Update: Paul Martin is toast (4.50 / 2) (#64)
by Ken Pompadour on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:08:39 PM EST

Thank God. Jean Chretien is many things, but jelly-spined he is not.

...The target is countrymen, friends and family... they have to die too. - candid trhurler
no jelly (3.00 / 1) (#65)
by westcourtmonk on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 05:50:20 PM EST

But I wonder if the liberal party will stay together... should be an entertaining week. Getting tired of Joe Clark though.

[ Parent ]
Update: Paul Martin has left his finance post ... (4.66 / 3) (#66)
by istevens on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 06:39:47 PM EST

Although it sounds like a firing, Jean Chretien acknowledged Paul Martin's resignation from his post as finance minister. Paul Martin has not yet gone to the press with his explanation. John Manley, Canada's deputy prime-minister, was named as the new finance minister.

Paul Martin is now relegated to the back benches where it is unknown whether he will continue his campaigning for the position of Prime Minister and, perhaps, lobby for Jean Chretien's resignation. It will be interesting to see what his take on the matter is and how Liberals loyal to Jean Chretien will respond. If Mr. Martin contradicts the PM and implies that he was fired and that he did not leave after a discussion with the PM this morning, as Mr. Chretien has said, there will be a greater rift between both the Martin and Chretien camps. If Mr. Martin acknowledges that he did indeed resign, he will have to give a fairly good reason so as to avoid accusations of being a self-interested traitor from those loyal to the Prime Minister.

ian.
--
ian
Weblog archives

Art Eggleton also "resigned" [n/t] (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by pyra on Sun Jun 02, 2002 at 08:33:44 PM EST




--
"It was half way to Rivendell when the drugs began to take hold" - Hunter S. Tolkien "Fear and Loathing in Barad Dur"
[ Parent ]
Paul Martin found out on the radio (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by deniz on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 08:24:12 AM EST

Martin has said that he told M. Chrétien he would make a decision Sunday night or Monday morning before markets opened.

He found out that he had "resigned" while driving from his home in the Eastern Townships to Ottawa yesterday, on the CBC radio.

Needless to say, he was not amused, and he has stated he did not resign at all.

[ Parent ]

Dismal choices left to Canadians. (2.00 / 2) (#81)
by CrazyJub on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 02:03:46 PM EST

The only option left is for Martin to join forces with Harris, and take over the Federal Liberals.

Once again, it's The Honourable Mr. Harris to the rescue.

God bless Canada, and God bless Mike Harris.

(I'm an Athiest, so I'm using the term God loosley)

OT: Was I the only one wondering..... (none / 0) (#85)
by Elkor on Mon Jun 03, 2002 at 04:39:57 PM EST

Whether this was an article about the Canadian Prime Minister having an accident with a gun?

When I read the part about potential party politics I though "Ok, so is he going to threaten to wound himself unless people stop messing around?"

Very bizarre.... Sorry for the randomness.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Jean Chrétien shooting himself in the foot? | 93 comments (57 topical, 36 editorial, 0 hidden)
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