Thursday, February 10, 2005

Grudging Credit

I have to admit that Paul did a fairly good job at the inquiry today. I wasn’t wowed by his performance like I was by Chretien on Tuesday (everyone I’ve talked to, even people who hate Chretien, agree the golf ball stunt was one of the all-time great performances of political theater) but he’s coming from the much more difficult position of needing to get re-elected. He was relatively clear and consistent, and distanced himself from the program as much as he could. All in all, a solid performance – I’d been expecting a lot worse. And that is one thing Paul Martin has going for him now, I think. Last year, the expectations were so high that he inevitably fell short. After seeing him as Prime Minister for over a year, I think it’s safe to say that Canadians now have very low expectations for him so he can only exceed them.

And I’ll say that the other favourite target of this blog, Ralph Klein, came out with a fairly solid State of the Province. His support for post-secondary education and an increased minimum wage is long overdue. His post-secondary support does not come even remotely close to the Liberal platform promises but it’s a start.

12 Comments:

  • You'll excuse me while I put forward a question here:

    What exactly is so damned admirable about Mr. Cretien acting contemptuously before an official Commision of Inquiry? I mean, you'll excuse me if I have a problem with this.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 12:59 AM  

  • The inquiry has become a bit of a political farce. Harper and Duceppe have been using it to gather data to use against the Liberals. The Liberals have lived in fear that a slip up by either Chretien or Martin would lessen their re-election chances. Thus the story has become not what the inquiry has learned but who, if anyone, scored political points.

    Paul Martin, had no choice but to watch his words. In my opinion, he managed to do that while treating the panel with dignity and respect. He was obviously not as entertaining as Chretien, but was much more graceful. He neither undermined the process nor did anything to hurt his own chances of retaining his Liberal and national leadership position.

    If Tuesday was a good day for Chretien then I’d call today a great day for Martin. As for Harper and Duceppe, neither got what they wanted.

    By Blogger Psychols, at 1:33 AM  

  • Mike; Chretien did a few very important things on Tuesday:

    1. He explained clearly the context behind the sponsorship program. It was part of a larger unity strategy, the rest of which worked.

    2. He explained why the "Liberal-friendly" firms thing is unfair. There are federalists and separatists in Quebec...all the federalists are Liberals. If you're promoting Canada, you don't pick a separatist firm and there aren't many NDP or Reform firms around.

    3. He put an end to the small town cheap comments with the golf ball stunt. Yes, he was arrogant and contempuous about it, but so what? The inquiry has done proven itself to be worthless and the impartial judge at the inquiry attacked him. On the National tonight, Don Martin, Chantal Hebert and Allan Gregg (none of whom particularily like the Liberals) agreed that there was no reason Chretien or Martin should have had to testify and that nothing is going to stick to them now.


    Cycles; You're right. Harper and Ducceppe got nothing to work with. Because of that, this was a very good week for the Liberal party.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:03 AM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 12:36 PM  

  • calgarygrit, you'll once again excuse me if I am flat-out insulted by the "context arguement."

    "Saving the country" is never an excuse to throw out the rulebook and invite corruption.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not personally suggesting Chretien did anything illegal per se, but the "secret unity fund" was all about throwing out the rule book to expedite certain things and cut out the middle man in the bureaucracy. The problem with this is, with that dissapears accountability, and ultimately leads to abuse.

    We have those checks and balances for a reason, and "putting things in context" does nothing to lessen the unacceptable nature of what happened.

    Chretien removed those checks and balances, and our tax dollars were squandered as a result. His motives do not justify his modus operandi amd I'm flabbergasted to see that you seem to think it does.

    I wonder, had this very scandal been the result of a Conservative administration if you would have taken this perspective. No, I suspect you'd probably attribute it to the corporate-friendly tendencies of the right and nail us to the wall. Am I wrong?

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 12:38 PM  

  • Sorry, but I cannot agree with you that Paul Martin did well. He was adequate, at best.

    This is my take from my commentary today:

    How did Paul Martin do? Well, he was fine - controlled, affable, informative on CERTAIN issues - but generally not a huge help in moving the business of the commission forward. TDH Strategies does not doubt that Paul Martin had no knowledge of the criminal activities occurring within the sponsorship program. That being said, Mr. Martin's claims that he was not aware until 2000 or later that there was a specific federal government sponsorship program designed to provide financial backing for community events is extremely suspect, considering that he was a part of weekly meetings with other Quebec cabinet ministers where they spoke about the sponsorship program (as detailed in yesterday's open question to Minister Stephane Dion).

    Enjoying the posts...am a regular reader now, and have added you to my links section (http://www.tdhstrategies.com/links.html)

    Cheers,

    TDH

    By Blogger TDH Strategies, at 12:55 PM  

  • TDH; I'll agree he got the puffball questions. Had he been pressed on Earnscliffe, or the Dion comments, or the Akaash letter, or the O'Leary memo he might have looked bad. As it is, the media are generally giving him good reviews so, politically, he's in a lot better shape now than he was in a week ago.

    Mike; I don't think the Sponsorship Program was really the travesty you're making it out to be. Didn't it still find its way into budgets? I mean, everyone knew about it. Now, the Unity Fund itself may have bent a few rules, and it turned into a bit of a mess. But the fact is, everyone in the country is treating this like it was some plan of Chretien's to syphon money back to Liberals. On Tuesday, he explained clearly that this was not the case by explaining the reason behind the fund. It didn't work, but the intent of it was good.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:13 PM  

  • OOOOOOOHhhhhhhhhhhhh. I understand. Because now that C. clearly explained the Libs had only good intentions, the attempts to hide cash transfers are legitimate. As are overpayments to unusually large donors.

    WHAT!?

    C'mon. The fact that the program may have had some marginal utility (moreso on paper, methinks) is NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE WITH IT BEING A VEHICLE FOR GRAFT.

    By Blogger matt, at 2:42 PM  

  • grit, I'm not questioning the "intent", what I am questioning is the competence. Incompetent people often have good intentions, but the result of their incompetence is often disastrous.

    I don't want to rehash what I posted on my blog today, but your welcome to read my rationale there.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 3:24 PM  

  • Ouch, what a harsh discussion...

    I think Mr.PM did reasonably well, seemed pretty conservative and serious about his responses.

    As for Mr. Chretien...the golf ball thing was gold! Vintage Chretien - always getting the last word. It was awesome, made my week.

    D :)

    By Blogger daveberta, at 5:50 PM  

  • There is no evidence yet of widespread Liberal Party graft... there is evidence a couple of epople in the civil service and perhaps 1 minister who happen to be Liberals may have been involved in graft and illegal activities.

    I dont buy the graft argument 1 bit.. Does anyone here seriously think that Chretien would condone this.. he knowing that if it ever came out that the Liberal Party as a whole or members of it were involved in graft to people... it would give instant ammo to the seperatist forces in Quebbec? I believe Kinsella and others that say Chretien was as horrified as anyone to find out what was going on.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 6:02 PM  

  • 1. it did come out. it did cost the libs huge. and someone (at least) smart enough to be in the position of running a $100M+ budget chose to run that risk.

    2. what motivation do faceless bureaucrats have in ensuring the liberal party gets big donations? or, for that matter, making sure friends of liberal politicians get great treatment?

    By Blogger matt, at 12:17 AM  

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