Nothing grates a left-leaning liberal more than Paul Martin that skinflint former finance minister and briefly prime minister. Once a friend, Paul became a non-person when Prime Minister Jean Chrétien gave him the finance portfolio. He built his reputation for balanced budgets on the backs of the poor, the unemployed, the sick and the elderly across Canada. He proved to one and all that he was no liberal.
It was an understandable situation. Growing up in the very political environment of his family’s home in Windsor and in Ottawa, Paul got away from left of centre politics and tried his hand at business. He had excellent mentors. Maurice Strong and then Paul Desmarais of Power Corporation were tough and experienced business leaders. Young Paul was more businessman than nationalist when he acquired Canada Steamship Lines from Paul Demarais. Martin made the company successful by using flags of convenience, foreign labour and automated loading and unloading of the ships—now built off-shore.
Those of us in the Liberal Party who had so deeply respected Paul’s father took a long time to realize that the younger Paul had come to prefer the approval of his friends in the business world. It was rumoured that he laughingly told them that all you had to do to win in politics is to campaign on the left and rule on the right.
And he was also proved wrong. As has been said before, why vote for a faux Conservative when you can vote for the real thing. Martin lost to Stephen Harper.
For supposed deficit-killer Martin to come out to Liberal functions today to “authorize” the planned deficits of Justin Trudeau’s Liberals is something of a travesty. It is reminding voters of the wrong Liberals.
Canada’s federal Liberals went into free fall after the Martin fiasco as the party searched for its future. It was almost a relief when Justin Trudeau came forward and offered renewal and change under a younger and more engaging leadership. He has made missteps on the road back to Sussex Drive where he was born but the change he is offering is still real.
Trudeau needed the declaration of these deficits to separate him from the New Democrat’s Thomas Mulcair. The NDP insisting that they would balance Canada’s budgets did not convince anybody of anything. They have already promised more than they can deliver and are losing credibility anyway.
Copyright 2015 © Peter Lowry
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