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?