Stop the presses! August 21, 2002: Chrétien resigns – sort of. At least he will resign sometime in February 2004. Whoop-dee-do. What kind of a resignation is that? All Chrétien has done, is to create a sick situation where the Liberal Party leader wannabes, will be going after each other to see who will replace him for almost two years from now to his actual departure.
Chrétien cited the lack of government productivity, due to the ongoing question of Party leadership for this “sort of” resignation announcement. And by announcing the date of his “future” resignation, Chrétien would have us believe that this will stabilize the Party, and enable his government to concentrate more on good management, than Party infighting over leadership.
This is disingenuous. All Chrétien could hope to accomplish with this pathetic manoeuver, is to possibly keep the Martin supporters off his back, and make it that much harder for Martin to win the reigns of Liberal leadership. Which might, or might not be the outcome.
Chrétien said in his “sort of” resignation speech, that he was doing it for the good of the country, so that Parliament could once again concentrate on good governance.
Bull! Like everything else Chrétien does, it’s about him and his ability to maintain power and leadership. In 40 years of being in government, Chrétien has done nothing exceptional for Canada, other than coming a whisker away from being the Prime Minister who almost lost Canada to Quebec’s Separatists in the October 1995 Quebec referendum on separation.
As part of his legacy, it will be argued that Chrétien gave Canada the Clarity Act, which more or less spells out the rules for a province (Quebec) to separate from Canada. He might take credit for it. But; it wasn’t his initiative. It was Guy Bertrand, financed by ordinary Canadians, who forced the issue, and brought Chrétien and his government kicking and screaming all the way to the Supreme Court, much like a parent would drag his terrified kid to the dentist.
And if it wasn’t for the abysmal handling of the National Unity portfolio, and his dreadful performance during the 1995 referendum, there would have been no need for the Clarity Act. Also: I can’t see how any national leader could possibly be proud of creating a blueprint for the destruction of a country.
If Chrétien leaves us with just one unforgettable legacy, it is that he has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt how far one person could go in Canada’s government, by doing so little.
As often as I say this. And as much as I hate to say it: Brian Mulroney did more to establish a legacy for himself and Canada within his two term mandate, than Chrétien did in 40 years. Mulroney created the GST (love it or hate it) and the Free Trade Agreement that has given Canada enormous access to the world’s largest and richest market.
Next to these two preceding Mulroney accomplishments; whatever Chrétien has given Canada pales in comparison. If Chrétien really loves Canada, and really cares for the Canadian people, he would do the really honorable and classy thing, and simply resign. Not in the next couple of years, but now, when the country really does need change and a new direction. But in true Chrétien form, he will hang-on to the very last possible minute, regardless of the consequences to Canada. And that too, will be part of his anemic legacy.