In his memoirs, Jean Chretien, My Years as Prime Minister, published today the former liberal leader launches a blistering attack on his one-time finance minister and the man who succeeded him as prime minister, Paul Martin. He paints a picture of Martin as a scheming, ambitious man ready to say anything necessary to get support for his leadership aspirations.

For openers he blames Martin and his people for a long campaign to force him out of office: « I was damned if I was going to allow myself to be shoved out the door by a gang of self-serving goons. »

Chretien blames Martin for mismanaging Canada’s involvement with the Kyoto Accord: « Unfortunately …. my successors succumbed to the fears and threats of the anti-Kyoto forces and did serious damage to Canada’s progress and our reputation in the process. »

In perhaps the most serious charge of all, he says it was due to Martin’s procrastination and dithering that Canadian soldiers were moved out of Kabul and sent south to battle the Taliban « in the killing fields around Kandahar. » This accusation has angered many of the families who have sons and daughters in Afghanistan.

Chretien admits only one mistake in his internecine strife with his most influential minister: he should have got rid of Martin much earlier.

Whom does this savaging of Martin help?

I suppose it helps Chretien sell books and give vent to his anger with his former rival.

It certainly doesn’t help the Liberal party to rip the scabs off these old wounds. It surely does not help Stephane Dion. It may well help Stephen Harper.

Given the fact the Martin people tried their best to oust Chretien (after he had won three majority governments), do you think « the little guy from Shawinigan » was justified in launching this kind of bitter attack?



  1. 1
    Dan R. Says:

    Hi Neil!

    It’s Chretien’s book, his words, his opinions, his thoughts. Is it appropriate considering the shambles the Liberal Party is currently in? Why not? Are we a democracy or not? If Mr. Martin believes the story is inaccurate, there are libel laws for him to remedy any innaccuracies he believes are damaging to his personal reputation.

    The Tories were in a shambles for years post-Mulroney, and they finally cleaned up their act–at least for the purposes de-Mulronization. Let the Liberals now undergo a period of de-Cretienization or de-Martinization (take your pick). That party considers itself the « natural » party of Canada because they have occupied parliament for so long, they’ve acted like they own it. I believe for the party to rebuild, they will have to rid themselves of the « old guard », Dion being amongst them. That Ignatieff character gets under my skin, having been far too long in Harvard’s halls of ivy. Like my former Concordia U. management professor, Stephen P. Robbins, who wrote far more than Ignatieff ever will, used to write in his syllibus: « Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach; those who can’t teach, teach teachers; those who can’t teach teachers, write books! » I don’t trust Michael Ignatieff as far as I can spit onto a Texas tornado!

  2. 2

    I generally agree with you about Ignatieff. But then if you write off Dion (which I certainly do not) who is left? Rae and Kennedy. In the words of Mitch Hepburn, neither of them « sets the heather afire. » Thanks for your interesting comment.

  3. 3
    Chimera Says:

    « Are we a democracy or not? »


    But Chretien hates Martin. Martin hates Chretien. So…one cretin takes a bite out of another cretin. Big deal. This is internecine party politics in Canada, and it’s not confined to the Liberals. What surprises me is that anyone is actually surprised by it.

    And there’s no such thing as a « former » rival until he’s dead.

    Every political leader is an alpha dog who sees his primary function to be the defeat of all other alpha dogs in the arena. We, the public, should by now have figured out that we need to leash and muzzle these guys before somebody gets seriously bitten! At the very least, we should all update our rabies shots…

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