If you want to know how Paul Martin went from the saviour of Canadian democracy to the John Turner of his generation in six short months, all you have to do is read the archive of Paul Wells’ blog at www.macleans.ca/paulwells. Wells is easily the best political columnist in Canada right now, and his daily attacks on Martin have been devastating.
I’ll admit — I have been a huge fan of Martin’s for years. I never thought he was as business-friendly as the left tried to portray him, and I have always liked his strong, understated nationalism. But he’s run a horrible campaign, and he thoroughly deserves the ass-kicking his party is going to get tomorrow. Not because of the so-called “Adscam” — I actually don’t think it is that big of a deal. Furthermore, Quebec’s indignation over the notion that the soft nationalists could be “bought” is pretty rich, since the province has spent the past 30 years proving that it *could* be bought.
But here are 5 reasons why the Liberals deserve to lose tomorow:
1. Paul Martin is soft on separatism
What kind of of fool gives Stephane Dion the hook, and replaces him with Jean Lapierre? What kind of fool courts the soft nationalist vote in Quebec, when the federalist position has won the day?
2. Paul Martin is hard on the West
When Martin came to power in December, he stated that dealing with Western alienation was a top priority. Instead, he has taken a page out of Jean Chretien’s book, running a campaign devoted to the proposition that, fundamentally, “Albertans are untrustworthy.” Nice work Paul.
3. He’s got lousy people behind him.
If we’ve learned anything from this campaign, it is that the people behind Martin (David Herle, Terrie O’Leary, Tim Murphy) are incompetent, with horrible political instincts.
There’s plenty to say here, but two points in particular. First, who told Paul Martin that the key to victory was to portray himself as the saviour of health care? It is true that, if you ask Canadians what the most important issue is, they always say health care. But if you then ask them which party they favour as most likely to make the health care system work, there is no partisan advantage to be had. That is because health care is delivered by the provinces, in which Canadians see NDP, Liberal, and Conservative governments all struggling with the same problems and trying the same set of solutions. In short, Canadians recognize that the problems with health care are stuctural and demographic, not political.
Second of all, why in hell did the Liberals allow the Conservatives to capture and keep the high ground on “integrity”? In March 2003, Stephen Harper — as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition — went to the US to apologise to a foreign power for the government’s failure to join in the war on Iraq. How outrageous was this? Imagine for a second that Chretien had committed Canadian troops. Would Gilles Duceppe have made a trip to France to apologise to the French government? Never. In many ways, the Alliance was (and is) more consistently disloyal than the Bloc Quebecois. But it is hard to make these sorts of points when your Quebec lieutenant helped found the Bloc Quebcois.
Speaking of integrity — whatever happened to Peter Mackay? All the Liberals had to do was run an ad featuring the footage of Mackay shaking hands with David Orchard and promising not to merge with the Alliance, followed by a single word in bold print: “Integrity?”
4. Martin is a hypocrite.
Five things Canadians liked about Jean Chretien’s legacy: Positive, if somewhat reluctant, movement on marijuana, gun control, gay marriage, and Kyoto (global warming), plus he kept us out of the war in Iraq. Martin was against the marijuana legislation, against gay marriage, in favour of the war on Iraq, and a complete waffler on Kyoto and the gun registry.
Martin’s defence minister is David Pratt, someone who loudly plumped for Canada to join the war in Iraq. If Martin had been PM in March 2003, Canadian troops would be in the shit in Mesopotamia. That is a fact.
5. He called an election in June.
Canada has two great months, June and September. Between the May 24 holiday and Canada Day, there is no better place to be on Earth than Canada. So Martin drops the writ on the Victoria Day weekend, with an election three days before Canada Day. Thanks Paul. Some fun July 1 this is going to be. Who’s going to feel like celebrating?