Saturday, June 12, 2004
Paul Martin & Culpability [UPDATED]

I was reading my friend Brian's blog this morning, and came across his post on the upcoming election. As far as the prognostication goes, I think he's right - the June 28th election is not looking like it will give way to a five (or four?) year government, and Canadians will be back at the polls again before long. However, I just had to comment (which I did in his comments section) on the kid-glove handling he does for Paul Martin:

Boy, you have to be impressed with Paul Martin. This is the man who was the brains behind one of the most successful fiscal policy runs in recent history. 6 years ago, people had him pegged as Chretien's successor and the next great Liberal leader. Now, he's fighting for his political life, using every dirty trick in the book to try to obfuscate the real issues of the election.

Sadly, nobody knew Chretien was going to exit in classic CEO fashion: everybody thinks everything's great, the old leader gets an awesome send-off into the sunset, the new leader comes in and gets to find all the crap under the front porch. Said crap is also discovered by the media and the opposition and, suddenly, the new leader is left with a bad choice: spit on the legacy of the man before or take the heat himself. Either way, he takes the hit.

Of course, Martin hasn't helped himself by taking the low road against Harper. I have yet to see this tactic work, yet it's always been used by parties who start out in the lead, only to see it evaporate the closer we get to election day.
Working for the Toronto Star now, are we? <big, huge, evil grin> Here's what I said:
I just gotta point out here, Brian, that it seems you're being rather naive concerning Martin.

How long was Martin financial minister for Chretien? Do you really think he didn't know anything about this whole financial to-do? If that's true, then he's certainly not someone I want in charge of the country - if he didn't know what was going on in the portion of the government for which he was personally responsible, then he doesn't need to go anywhere near the Prime Minister's office. (I don't believe that for a second - Martin is many things, but stupid is not one of them).

At the same time, the other (and only other) explanation is that he did know about the financial sponsorship hullabaloo (aka AdScam aka "The Crap Under the Porch") and either a) encouraged it b) organized it or c) did nothing to stop it. Any of those three options (and they're the only three that logically exist), and this man is automatically disqualified from holding any public office. "...find all the crap under the front porch?" Right. Sure. But why was there crap under the front porch to begin with? Because Martin defecated (or allowed someone else to defecate) there.

Either he was hopelessly incompetent, or he was/is thoroughly corrupt - I'm not seeing any middle ground here. Either way, he's lying to save his own skin. Is he a loser? Sure. But he's a loser because of his character and his behavior, not because he inheirited a bum deal.
For those of you interested in more, Andrew Coyne has quite a few posts on the subject.

Brian responds to my comments.
The point I was trying to make is that the party leader is the public face. Given that Adscam was going to break sooner or later, the Liberals were going to take a massive public hit. Compounding that was the mishandling of McGuinty's first Ontario budget. Chretien clearly saw the writing on the wall and opted to leave ahead of the avalanche. He received a glorious sendoff and Martin is going to be pointed at as the leader that was at the wheel when the Liberals were tossed from the seat of power. Chretien's legacy will suffer, but nowhere near the degree it would have had he stayed for one more election.
I am in complete agreement. Heck, I'd even agree if he suggested Canada file proceedings to indict M Chretien - but then, perhaps I'm a bit extreme.
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