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Chrétien’s Memoirs

Edward Campbell

Army.ca Myth
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Here, reproduced from today’s Ottawa Citizen under the Fair Dealing provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act, is an article which further confirms Ruxted’s contention that former Prime Minister Martin ”dithered” Canada’s way into the Kandahar PRT task – with all its attendant security issues.

My emphasis added.

Chretien memoir likely to rip open old Liberal wounds

By Elizabeth Thompson, CanWest News Service

Published: Saturday, October 13, 2007

OTTAWA -- Former prime minister Paul Martin is responsible for Canadian troops ending up in the "killing fields" around Kandahar because he took too long to make a decision, former prime minister Jean Chretien charges in a new book.

In a memoir likely to rip open old Liberal wounds and exacerbate divisions within the party only days before a possible plunge into a federal election, the former Liberal leader attacks Martin on several fronts, from his scheming to force Chretien out of office to Martin's handling of Canada's Kyoto environmental protocol commitments. He also argues that Martin has only himself to blame for the grief he suffered as a result of the sponsorship scandal.

And the former prime minister offers intriguing tidbits about such figures as former media baron Conrad Black and Queen Elizabeth II.

But Chretien, long described as a political brawler, takes off the gloves when it comes to Martin. He says manoeuvring by Martin and his supporters to push him out of the prime minister's office actually steeled his resolve to stay on.

He doesn't mince words.

"I was damned if I was going to let myself be shoved out the door by a gang of self-serving goons," Chretien writes after describing the hurt and betrayal he felt upon learning in the spring of 2000 about a meeting Martin supporters had held in a Toronto airport hotel. "By trying to force me to go, they aroused my competitive spirit, ignited my anger, and inadvertently gave me the blessing I needed from Aline (his wife) to fight for a third term. For that, ironically, I owed Paul Martin a great deal of thanks."

Chretien also recounts that after the Taliban government of Afghanistan was overthrown, he carefully engineered things so Canada's soldiers were stationed around the safer area of Kabul, helping to rebuild the Afghan capital.

"Later, unfortunately, when my successor took too long to make up his mind about whether Canada should extend our term with the International Security Assistance Force, our soldiers were moved out of Kabul and sent south again to battle the Taliban in the killing fields around Kandahar," Chretien writes.

Jim Pimblett, a spokesman for Martin, said his boss did not receive an advance copy of the book and was "not in a position to react in any detail, nor is he inclined to do so today or in the foreseeable future.

"Obviously, it is disappointing to hear reports that old divisions are being revisited at a time when the Liberal Party needs to stand unified behind (Liberal Leader Stephane) Dion. Pimblett acknowledged that the two men had their differences at times "but their partnership in government generated tremendous achievements."

Chretien was originally scheduled to launch his memoirs in person in Ottawa Monday, but is currently recovering from emergency heart bypass surgery earlier this month.

Although the tension between the two men was one of the worst kept secrets in Ottawa when they served together in cabinet, Chretien has, since leaving office, maintained a low profile and kept to the high road, generally keeping to himself his thoughts about the man who took his place as Liberal leader and prime minister in November 2003.

However, in Jean Chretien, My Years as Prime Minister, Chretien blasts Martin's handling of the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse-gas reduction and accuses him of lying to the Liberal caucus.

Chretien says when he left office, Canada was on track to meet its commitments under the Kyoto accord.

"Unfortunately, whether for political or ideological reasons, my successors succumbed to the fears and threats of the anti-Kyoto forces and did serious damage to Canada's progress and our reputation in the process."

Chretien reveals that he contemplated removing Martin from the finance ministry, firing the conspirators on Martin's staff and cancelling the government contracts with Martin's friends and advisers at the Earnscliffe strategy and communications firm, but was talked out of it by his top advisers Jean Pelletier and Eddie Goldenberg.

"Both were to regret their advice, and I soon regretted my decision to keep him."
In his memoirs, Chretien paints a picture of Martin as a scheming, ambitious man ready to tell anyone anything they wanted to hear in order to get support for his leadership aspirations. For example, when the minister of agriculture asked for an extra billion dollars in 2002 to help Western farmers cope with a serious drought, Martin offered less than $500 million. Chretien says when he ordered a compromise of $700 million, Martin then told farmers and members of caucus it was Chretien's fault they didn't get the full $1 billion.

"It was irresponsible behaviour on his part and it made the government increasingly difficult to manage," Chretien writes.

In fact, Chretien says, if Martin hadn't been in such a hurry to take over the PMO, he wouldn't have had to worry about the sponsorship scandal.

Knowing Auditor general Sheila Fraser's report was going to be "tough," Chretien was prepared to receive it, thank her for her work and then say if there was evidence of theft or fraud that the police should catch the crooks and the courts should put them in jail.

"Of course, I expected to have to take some hits in the press for a couple of weeks, but that hadn't frightened me in the past and it didn't frighten me now. By the time Martin was to take over, the whole issue would have been history and he could have begun his mandate without that albatross around his neck."

But Pimblett challenged Chretien's memory. "Undoubtedly there are clear differences in recollection between the two men - not the least of which would appear to be Mr. Chretien's decision to prorogue Parliament, and not accept the auditor generals report on sponsorship personally," he said.

Chretien said he had also been willing to stay in office until the end of January to deal with it, requiring only that Martin ask him officially.

"I never even had a phone call from him, with disastrous consequences for him and the Liberal Party."

Chretien deals briefly with the reasons for setting up the sponsorship program in the wake of the 1995 Quebec referendum on sovereignty and blames the scandal on a few bad apples, who, unbeknownst to him, decided to line their own pockets. Chretien also points out that of three people charged with crimes to date, Paul Coffin and Charles Guite had ties to the Conservatives and Jean Brault is described as a Parti Quebecois supporter.

Chretien admits that in earlier drafts of the book he planned to write "at some length" about Martin's decision to launch the inquiry into the sponsorship scandal presided by Justice John Gomery, the commission's work, its findings and its ramifications, however it was not included because the matter was still before the courts.

Instead, Chretien quotes a newspaper columnist's assessment that the sponsorship scandal was "a mouse of an affair" and that Martin reacted like an elephant panicked by the sight of a mouse, creating havoc in all directions.

Chretien's views on Martin are only one part of a wide-ranging, 412-page memoir that recounts his decade as Canada's prime minister. Passages include observations on the 1995 referendum and his conviction that Canada would be pulled into the United States if Quebec were to separate, as well as his government's nervousness about introducing the Clarity Act.

Chretien also reveals some of his behind the scenes conversations with international leaders on the world stage - particularly former U.S President Bill Clinton.

The former prime minister also describes his meetings with U.S. President George W. Bush, who was trying to overcome Chretien's misgivings about Canada joining the planned U.S invasion of Iraq but who, Chretien says, didn't have enough evidence to "convince a judge of the municipal court in Shawinigan." Chretien says he tried, over a beer in Johannesburg, South Africa, to talk to Tony Blair, who was then British prime minister, out of invading Iraq. Chretien pointed out that the U.S. was choosing to replace a leader like Iraq's Saddam Hussein instead of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe because Iraq had oil and Zimbabwe didn't.

Chretien also reveals that media baron Conrad Black, desperate to persuade the Canadian government not to block his appointment to the British House of Lords, proposed an unusual solution.

"You could allow me to become a lord in England and at the same time make me a senator in Canada," he quotes Black as saying. Black ended up renouncing his Canadian citizenship in order to be able to take the British appointment. "I'd serve in both. I'd even be willing to sit as a Liberal," Black is also quoted as saying.

Chretien reveals he had an opportunity to enter the media business in October 2003 when CanWest founder Izzy Asper told him, a week before Asper's own death, that he wanted the prime minister to become chairman of his media empire once Chretien got out of politics.

"I took it as a jest, but he made the statement at a dinner table in front of other people, and his family later told me he had been serious."

Chretien recounts that Queen Elizabeth II, however, once took a jest seriously when she was taken in by a Quebec radio announcer who, posing as Chretien in 1995 during the referendum campaign, got through to her on the telephone.

" 'I didn't think you sounded quite like yourself,' she told me, 'but I thought, given all the duress you were under, you might have been drunk' ."

Montreal Gazette

© CanWest News Service 2007

However, it is important to note that M. Chrétien’s accounts are, as one might expect, a wee it self-serving, such as, in Mr. Martin’s aide’s words concerning, “Mr. Chretien's decision to prorogue Parliament, and not accept the auditor generals report on sponsorship” which are at odds with what he says in the book.

More grist for the mill and, I suppose, and a necesary addition to the book pile.

I guess Chretein forgot about the first tour in KANDAHAR which he sent us on. If this is an example of the half-truths and outright lies King Jean tells to make himself look great this book will serve greatly as extra toilet paper!
I acted properly, everything that's wrong is someone else's fault.

Typical. If there's problems in the party, it's because of his last minute interference, to get Dion elected. Dion wasn't even on the map till Chretien hoisted him on his shoulders. He says Iraq is about Bush and oil. I firmly believe part of our abstinence in that conflict is about Power Corporation, the Chretiens and food for oil scandal they were involved in, with Saddam.
While Brian Mulroney waited a decade to put to print his memoirs ( and allow memory to get fuzzy) Jean has decided to hack & burn the party that he led.  "après moi, le déluge".

Jean Chrétien never liked Paul Martin and he has gone out of his way, at every turn to smear his name.
Should be able to pick up a copy, from the bargain bin in the second hand book store, in a few weeks. It'll be great for lining the bird cage or kindling the fireplace this winter. At least Mulroney's was large enough for my wife to press flowers in.
I'll keep an eye open for disgarded copies in the recycled paper bin out back.....  Rubbish!

If you're a Conservative.............. 8)

Chretien memoir likely to rip open old Liberal wounds

................It's all good.   ;D
Chretien's true attitude towards the CF-- remember what he said at a July 1997 NATO summit to his Belgian counterpart, not knowing the mike was live:

'In terms of U.S-Canada relations, and particularly the use of Canadian troops to do the dirty work for the U.S., Chretien said: "(Clinton) goes to Haiti with soldiers. The next year, Congress doesn t allow him to go back. So he phones me. Okay, I send my soldiers, and then afterwards, I ask for something else in exchange."'

Not a great source but I vividly remember seeing it on TV at the time and being completely appalled. Talk about Don Jean.

Maybe someone can find another source.

With the Chretien-Martin battle bubbling to the surface again, the Federal Liberals will be very hard pressed to maintain a coherent front when dealing with issues in Parliament, much less in caucus or during an election campaign. I think Jack Layton is pitching his appeal just right: against the Liberals (see the NDP home page and check out the bottom center banner.)

While Mr Chretien was very much a campaign from the Left; govern from the Right kind of guy, Mr Dion seems to have taken many Liberal promises seriously and moved the party hard to the Left, running aground on the shoals of the real Left (NDP, Green and Bloc parties). If enough left wing voters decide to leave the faux left Liberals for the real Left then the train wreak will be astonishing to watch. There may be no Liberal party in our future, just two or three parties vote splitting on the Left and a broadly centrist Conservative party on the Right.

The Liberals might remain a small, centrist rump party in Ontario, but I suspect they might pass from history the way the Federal "PC" party did. (Anyone hear from the "Progressive Canadian" party lately? Do you suppose the Bob Rae's and Micheal Ignatieff's of the world want to lead or be members of the residual Liberal party if it is as relevant as the "PC" party?)

Deciphering how this happened will be an interesting task for future historians. Can the blame be laid on Chretien? Martin? Dion? Power Corporation? Is it a result of demographic change? The New Media? Globalization (and the weakening of traditional economic and political power structures)? the growth of the West as a political and economic force?

There will be an interesting time ahead for Canadians.
Well Chretien has never been a credible source on most issues so why should we all plump down $20 or $30 bucks to gobble up what he's got to say now? the only reason he won 3 majoritys is because the right was in complete disarray and formed no credible opposition after the Mulroney coalition fell apart. He was yesterday's man when he was elected and nothing he did while PM convinced me otherwise in the 12 years that followed....beginning with the cancellation of the EH101. This is a man who once referred to the CF as "boy scouts with guns." ::)
... He also wore his helmet "a$$ backwards"  :warstory:  :warstory:

(BTW IHS - by the look of things, seems we got a better chopper in the Sikorski Cyclone)
geo said:
... He also wore his helmet "a$$ backwards"   :warstory:  :warstory:

(BTW IHS - by the look of things, seems we got a better chopper in the Sikorski Cyclone)

Yes Geo I think you're right but if we waited another 15 years we could get a better helicopter than the Cyclone. My point is that we spent over a billion dollars on the EH101 and never received a single airframe. It was obvious to everyone at the time we were too far down the road in the acquisition process to "reverse engines" but M. Chretien did it anyway. he didn't understand the issues nor the necessity for an new MH. As usual he shot from the lip during an election campaign and then realized that despite wasting hundreds of thousands of taxpayers dollars the average Joe wouldn't have a schmick about the issue either and he could go ahead and cancel without an impact at the polls.
His disregard for wasting taxpayer's money without regret is evident throughout his administration...the HRDC debacle, the long gun registry cost overruns, the ADSCAM affair etc. I bet none of those "cock-ups" will be mentioned in his self-serving little ditty. ::)
IHS, I believe he knew exactly what he was doing AND $$$ asside, this vindictive fella chose to do it anyway.
Trudeau = Chretein = Dion = all the same left wing, bull sh*t spewing, truth twisting liberal garbage!
Hey, hey, Mulroney shoveled the stuff like a trooper - musn't forget him.
geo said:
Hey, hey, Mulroney shoveled the stuff like a trooper - musn't forget him.

That's cuz he was used to kissing the Blarney stone! I thought Mulroney did a lot of good things in his first term but in his second he tended to get carried away with his own importance. His frustration over getting Quebec onside resulted in a man who then desperately flailed around looking for a legacy.
Mulroney was too busy singing "when Irish eyes are smiling" with Ronny Reagan

Mulroney surrounded himself with ministers with checkered pasts.  Almost from day one, scandals kept popping up and he had to replace minister after minister...
geo said:
Mulroney surrounded himself with ministers with checkered pasts.  Almost from day one, scandals kept popping up and he had to replace minister after minister...

And therin lies the difference; very few ministers or backbenchers (or bureaucrats, for that matter) were ever taken to task during the Chretien/Martin era. Papa Jean could even deny making a promise (with a straight face, no less) AFTER having a recording of him making the promise (to eliminate the GST) played to him on a CBC town hall. Running out of his office to bail out Jane Stewart during a media scrum also comes to mind.
I will add a quote from Jean Chrétien I found in "Les Chrétienneries 2". This is from a speech during his first campaign in may 1963. Translation is my own.

Canada is at a turning point in it's history and it's not the time to send buffoons to the House of Commons to represent French Canadians.

- Jean Chrétien

For the french speaking people, here is the original :

Le Canada est à un point tournant de son histoire et ce n'est pas le temps d'envoyer des bouffons à la Chambre des communes pour représenter les Canadiens français.

-Jean Chrétien

So true, so true...  ::)
Does anyone know when it will be translated into english or french?

After years and years of seeing him speak on TV it might be interesting to find out what he was saying?