But there’s something about former Canadian prime minister Jean Chretien that transcends the usual foibles of the politico. He’s a veritable animal of political life who typifies all the personality traits that would prompt the rest of us to stay out of public service. He is one of the most successful political operators in Canadian history precisely because he stopped at nothing to pursue and keep public office.
The Gomery inquiry rightly fingered him and his henchmen for creating an environment in which the public purse was effectively looted for years. He has claimed he didn’t know what was going on – which says he is either wonderfully gifted in the art of bovine waste, or he is the most clueless leader in our history.
Either way, he’s retired now. And his attempts to clear his name – at our expense – this week didn’t sit right with me. So I wrote this:
Note to Chretien: Just go quietly
Published Thursday, November 3, 2005
Free Press London
Why must former Canadian Prime Ministers have such thin skin?
When Brian Mulroney’s reputation was called into question following the Airbus scandal, he came out swinging. Now, Jean Chretien walks in his combative footsteps as he challenges the Gomery inquiry’s conclusions.
The federal Liberal party will go down in history as living larger than any other after it came to power. The Grits will also be remembered as the ones whose minions most regularly pigged out at the taxpayer trough. And it all happened on Chretien’s watch.
I’m not alone in wishing Mr. Chretien would simply take his lumps and ride off into the sunset. By bringing his complaint to Federal Court, he raises the cost of a case that has already sucked Canadian taxpayers dry.
In the end, Canadians really don’t care about the so-called Chretien legacy. They just want a government that’s looking out for their best interests.
Please, go back to your political retirement, Jean.