I said it last summer and what was just a vague notion then is starting to get some supporting evidence to back up the theory. And that notion is that Paul Martin’s all things to all people shtick is going to turn into his tragic flaw. A lot of people will point to the fact that he has 28 “number 1” priorities as the problem with this strategy but that’s not what I think will be his undoing. The problem as I see it is that Martin’s all things to all people routine comes from the fact that he’s a bit of a megalomaniac. This isn’t a bad thing – Louis XIV had the same problem and it made him a great King but when Paul Martin says “this will be the most important election in Canada’s history” I think he truly believes it. When he feels that Jean Chretien must be forced from office because Canada needs Paul at the helm, I think he firmly believes it. So when Paul finally realized his ambition of becoming Prime Minister, he wasn’t satisfied. No, he wanted to be the greatest Prime Minister ever. Fed on by the delusions of his advisors, he honestly felt Canadians would fall so madly in love with him that he’d win 220 seats, destroy the Bloc, and make electoral history. But the only way to do this was to be all things to all people.
And that is my convoluted way to bring me to my point. By wanting to be all things to all people, Martin has destroyed any credibility he might have had. I got to thinking this while reading through the quotes at www.paulmartinsaid.ca . I got to thinking how strange it was to see a site put up by the Conservatives, trying to trash their opponents, arguing the Conservative platform. I’m not sure if this has ever been done before. I mean, when Martin trashes Jack Layton, he doesn’t say “Jack shares my opinion on this and this and this”. However, Harper is trying to show that his party isn’t the only one full of anti-Gay, pro-private health care, pro-Iraq war, anti-Maritimes candidates. The problem is, since Martin wanted his 200 seats, he have to get votes from people he was better off not getting votes from.
Look at paulmartinsaid and you’ll see quotes from Keith Martin and Scott Brison. How can Martin expect to attack Harper for being too Conservative when he welcomes Conservatives to his party with open arms while forcing out Sheila Copps and Charles Caccia? Similarly, his cabinet he unveiled in December was one of the most right wing in Liberal history. He named David Pratt his Minister of Defense, knowing that Pratt was the biggest hawk in the caucus. How then can he attack Stephen Harper on the Iraq war? He named Anne McLellan his Deputy PM knowing she shares Harper’s views of Health Care. I’m not sure if he knew Pettigrew’s Health Care views but he sure should have made it his business to find them out before naming Pierre his Minister of Health. As a result, the Health Care argument goes out the window. Never mind that Paul slashed Health Care more than any Finance Minister in Canada’s history.
Similarly, he wanted to woo Quebec onside and felt the best way to do this was to become a soft separatist. So he tried to run Stephane Dion out of town and made the founder on the Bloc his Quebec Lieutenant. Jean Lapierre then went on to recruit separatist candidates to run for the Liberals in the next election. How then can Lapierre spout that a vote for the Bloc is a waste vote? How can Martin appeal to federalists outside of Quebec? The Lapierre fiasco has led to vicious attacks on Martin by Paul Wells, Warren Kinsella and many others in the on-line bloging community.
Martin has other credibility problems too. How can he run on fixing the democratic deficit when his supporters were the most corrupt in Canada’s history when it came to a leadership race (a leadership race which was already over before it even began making their tactics all the more unwise)? How can he appoint his friends as candidates when he called the Sheila Copps fiasco a “local matter”? Good question.
But the fact is, the majority of his problems come from his desire to not only win, but win big. He became a Conservative and lost 10% of his vote to the NDP while not attracting Conservatives. He became a separatist but saw his support plummet in Quebec.
And now, he can’t seem to break through the opposition defense because he’s calling passes from their playbook.