Thursday, 20 March 2003

Chretien has failed the test

The new blog PeakTalk is the weblog of an expat living in western Canada. He's got a great post on the failure of Jean Chrétien and the Liberals to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their biggest trading partner and military protector. As he says:

If you still believe, in spite of the all strong arguments noted above, that after 12 years of arguments and sanctions it is not right to attack Iraq, you may very well make that point, but you lose all credibility if you fail to support your closest friends that are willing to stand up to the source of evil that is confronting the world. With American, British and Australian soldiers likely to die in the next few days, the least you could do as a friend and ally is to express some level of support to your friends and especially to your closest neighbor who also happens to be your major customer, in this case buying 85% of everything that you export abroad. And not only that, that southern neighbor also provides for your security as you have miserably neglected to do anything about your own defense and you have indicated a considerable degree of unwillingness to integrate security arrangements for a North American perimeter that might have benefited the security of your and your neighbor's citizens. The legacy of Prime Minister Chrétien is that he has relegated the status of a once powerful nation like Canada to that of a completely irrelevant bystander that even in times of acute danger can not bring itself to support those that are willing to contain the danger and are taking on the dirty work.

There's lots more. In particular, the failure of the Chrétien government to cooperate in creating a so-called “secure perimeter” has been a remarkably short-sighted development that has set back the development of NAFTA and stalled the integration of the North American economy, hurting economic growth in both the United States and Canada.

In terms of Canadian domestic politics, I am not as confident as PeakTalk that this will undermine the Liberal government. Due to the highly fractured nature of Canadian politics, it is hard to imagine any credible alternative to the Liberals emerging in the short term, at least until the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives (Tories) come to some sort of arrangement and are able to campaign effectively in Ontario. On the other hand, far stranger things have happened in Canadian politics—the wipe-out of the Tories in 1993, for example—and after a decade in office, Chrétien is overdue for being turfed out onto the street.