The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Thursday, August 22, 2002

Chrétien snookers Martin once again!

Jean Chrétien’s announcement that he will leave office in February 2004 was a relief for Liberals and Canadians alike. It was also another blow to Paul Martin’s leadership hopes.
With Chrétien’s scheduled departure, the prospects unseating Chrétien at a leadership review in 2003 have been dimmed. Many Paul Martin supporters just wanted to see Chrétien commit to a departure date. Indeed, there is talk of the leadership review vote being cancelled in light of Mr. Chrétien’s announcement.
Jean Chrétien and his advisors had come realize that he would lose a leadership review in 2003, no matter how much effort they put in. Paul Martin and his boosters had spent the past twelve years quietly signing up Liberals, gaining control of riding associations, and working their way into the party executive. There were Martin organizers in every part of the country; Mr. Chrétien, though he had many fans, had not kept his leadership campaign team from 1990 together. Mr. Martin had.
With defeat inevitable, Mr. Chrétien decided to leave the leadership – but not immediately.
The Prime Minister’s decision to leave immediately reduces tension within the party. Now, many Liberal party members and MPs will be able to focus on the business of governing Canada. This allows Mr. Chretien to go about implementing the reminder of their agenda, as announced last night at the Libberal caucus meeting in Saguenay, Québec. This work will be done, in all likelihood, with Paul Martin firmly planted on the Liberal back benches. Mr. Martin will not be able to take any credit for the government’s achievements over the next eighteen months, unlike what he has been able to do over the last nine years.
On the back benches, Mr. Martin will have trouble staying in the media spotlight over the next year and a half. While he has been arguably the most successful Finance Minister in Canadian history, the fact that he will do little more in the near future than shake hands and give speeches will mean that the press will pay less attention to what he has to say. The actions of a backbencher do not move markets.
In the Prime Minister’s Office, it was said that there were three numbers to consider when deciding the time of Mr. Chrétien’s retirement: ten, forty, and sixty-five. Mr. Chrétien wanted to leave after at least ten years as Prime Minister, and at least forty years after first entering Parliament. He also wanted for Paul Martin to be over the age of sixty-five, if it were inevitable that Mr. Martin would succeed Mr. Chrétien. This, he hoped, would ensure that Mr. Martin’s time at the top would not be long.
In February 2004, Paul Martin will be nearly sixty-six years old, and facing a leadership race against younger Liberal hopefuls. Should Martin win, he will face a crop of younger leaders in a general election. In the past, voters have not considered age too heavily – if that were the case, neither Mr. Chrétien nor Pierre Trudeau, nor Mackenzie King would have won the many elections that they did. Martin, though, would be less likely to serve as long as those men just mentioned!
In the next eighteen months, the other prospective Liberal leadership candidates will have time to organize, raise funds, and chip away at Mr. Martin’s support. A lot of Martin’s support was because he wasn’t Jean Chrétien. Now, Paul Martin must win support on his own merits. I wonder how many of Mr. Martin’s supporters might well defect to other contenders, now that they know that Mr. Chrétien will be leaving?
Even in apparent defeat, Jean Chrétien has had the last laugh.

Send me your thoughts.

Lots of stories about the PM's resignation:

The Globe and Mail
CBC News Online (WARNING: CanWest Global)
New York Times (Login required; free service)

Jim Travers: Chrétien lands sucker punch on Martin's chin
National Post: 2004 is too late
The Putz's editorialists ssem to think that the PM's power and influence will degenerate over the next 18 months.
John Ibbitson: Nasty times ahead
Hugh Winsor: Why MP's should continue to back Chrétien's agenda
William Johnson: Chrétien stands, the office falters
Barbara Yaffe whines about another eighteen months with King Jean.
Jim McNulty: A pyrrhic victory for Paul Martin

Profile of likely contenders to succed Jean Chrétien
Comments: Post a Comment

Reports, opinions, columns, and anything else on this site, are © 2002-2003 Ian King unless otherwise noted. Permission granted to use material on this site for non-commercial purposes provided that the work is attributed to the original author. All other uses require specific permission of the original author. Contact weblog owner with any inquiries.

Feel free to link to this web log. The management likes getting lots of traffic.