Tobin resigned from Chrétien’s Cabinet, supposedly to spend more time with his family. Baloney!
Tobin quit the Federal Cabinet, because he knew that his chance to succeed Chrétien was somewhere between zero and none. At one point, Tobin was touted to be the front runner to replace Chrétien. But; two things happened on the way to the PMO (Prime Minister’s Office).
The first: came with John Manley’s sudden vault into Chrétien’s high esteem. And with Manley’s high profile trips abroad, which included lecturing Israel in order to curry favor with Middle Eastern Arab States; he demonstrated his international ability to play Canada’s, Liberal government’s game of duplicity.
We also can not forget Manley’s quick off-the-mark, unconditional support for the USA after 9/11. Faster and more heartfelt than anything that came from the PMO.
The second: occurred when Tobin failed to impress anyone, especially the public after his much ballyhooed return to federal politics. And as such, he demonstrated no ability to defeat Chrétien’s nemesis Paul Martin.
Tobin’s departure from Ottawa, and Chrétien’s cabinet is no great loss for Canada. But; it certainly shows Tobin’s priorities and loyalties. And those loyalties are far more to himself, than to Canada. Instead of sticking it out to do a good job for his country and constituents, as he had pledged to do, he cut bait and weighed anchor.
This should be no surprise. Tobin walked out on Ottawa to become Premiere of Newfoundland and Labrador, when the deal for him as Premier seemed to be better than what he had in Cabinet. And when it appeared that a return to Ottawa, as a probable successor to Chrétien was in his favor; it was good-bye Newfoundland and Labrador. So much for Tobin.
Chrétien has just completed his largest Cabinet shuffle ever, bringing in 10 brand new names from the back benches. And out of Cabinet are some household names such as; Gagliano, Frey and Anderson.
These three Cabinet Ministers, should never have been Cabinet Ministers in the first place. Gagliano is so tainted, you can hear the “God Father” theme song when he steps into a room. Hedy Frey is an absolute whacko, and a liar. And David Anderson of Victoria BC, is a walking testament to how far someone can go with no talent.
Chrétien’s Cabinet shuffle is long overdue. But; it has more to do with his keeping power, and setting up John Manley as his probable replacement, who will not necessarily stab him in the back, and who could very well be a viable challenger to Paul Martin as the future Prime Minister, than it has to do with providing better government.
With that said, it is also very possible that Chrétien has just recreated his Cabinet to carry him into his fourth election victory. This would guarantee the end of any Paul Martin dream of becoming the next Prime Minister, and allow John Manley the opportunity to secure his lock on the next Liberal Party leadership transition; if he plays his cards right.
Chrétien is not an old man. His wits are as sharp as they ever were. His health appears to be excellent, and there seems to be no reason in his mind’s eye to retire. If Chrétien’s plans are for one more term in office after this one, you’ll see a great deal more new faces on the future hustings as well.
With the reality, that there is no opposition party to speak of; there is no question in my mind, that if Chrétien wants, he can pull off yet another term. And the benign Chrétien dictatorship will continue.