-IF VISITORS TO MY AWARD-WINNING WEBSITE HAVEN'T COME TO THIS PAGE AFTER CONSIDERATION OF THE DRAFT OF THE FIRST PAGE OF THE "AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION" TO '"DEMOCRATIC VALUES": WATERGATE UNDER THE BRIDGE', THEN BEFORE READING THE TERM OF REFERENCE BELOW, TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE TO DO SO.
LAC DES PILES, Que.--Jean Chrétien dismissed Stockwell Day yesterday as a naive lightweight with an unpalatable agenda and shrugged off the "nervous Nellies" in his caucus who fear the Canadian Alliance leader could reduce the Liberals to a minority government in the coming federal election.
In the first Canadian interview at his new home overlooking the turquoise Lac des Piles, the Prime Minister gave every sign that he is itching to do battle against Mr. Day.
He derisively referred to the Alliance leader as "worse than a head waiter"1 to the provinces, someone who would emasculate the federal government, cut the poor provinces adrift, cozy up to Quebec separatists and destroy the fabric of the nation. And he belittled the Alliance leader's political experience as treasurer of oil-rich Alberta, calling it an easy job akin to being the "Sheik of Araby."2
"The nation needs leadership, not a head waiter,"1 the Prime Minister said, "somebody who will speak for all Canadians from sea to sea to sea and somebody who will deliver the values Canadians want and I have the track record to prove it."
Mr. Chrétien portrayed himself as an experienced, truly national leader who has spent his political career fighting Quebec separatists and espousing the values of generosity and sharing. And he suggested he is best positioned to lead the Liberals in the looming "big battle on values" against the Alliance, warning his party it would risk defeat if it opted for an untried, new leader to challenge Mr. Day.
The 90-minute interview came as Mr. Chrétien prepares to meet today with his Liberal caucus in Winnipeg to plot strategy for the fall session of Parliament and the coming election, widely expected to be called in March.
While Mr. Chrétien's leadership is unlikely to be challenged openly at the three-day meeting, it is expected to be the subject of much corridor chat among MPs.
Although the Liberals retain a healthy lead of roughly 20 percentage points, a number of backbenchers are uneasy about the boost the Alliance has scored in opinion polls over the summer since the telegenic, 49-year-old Mr. Day was elected leader.
And some, speaking anonymously, have recently renewed calls for Mr. Chrétien to pass the torch to Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, who they believe would win more seats in the West and Quebec.
They also believe Mr. Martin could more easily hang on to the Liberal stronghold of Ontario.
But Mr. Chrétien, dressed casually and appearing relaxed and confident, exhibited little patience for anonymous grumblers. "I have no great respect for that type of nervous Nellies."
Mr. Chrétien said a better measure of the mood of caucus is the fact that almost all 157 Liberal MPs are planning to seek re-election. He dismissed the anonymous malcontents3 as a small group of MPs whose ambitions have been frustrated under his leadership.
"They all want to be Cabinet ministers and you know that most of them don't have what is needed. You can pass that judgment yourself. Can you think of any of these guys the government is much weaker because they are not members of cabinet?"
Mr. Chrétien was also dismissive of fears that the Liberals will be headed for a minority government unless a fresh new leader takes the helm.
"Perhaps with another leader they will have a defeat," he countered, citing former Conservative leader Kim Campbell and former Liberal leader John Turner as examples of fresh faces who bombed at the polls.
Mr. Chrétien said he doesn't plan to change his so-called 50-50 formula for spending budget surpluses--the "balanced approach" of committing half of the surpluses to debt and tax reduction and half to strategic investments in social and economic development programs.
With budget surpluses piling up larger than expected, Mr. Chrétien said he hopes to accelerate the $56 billion in tax cuts offered in the last budget. But he continued to insist that new spending is also needed to ensure future prosperity and greater equality of opportunity across Canada.
Mr. Chrétien said he expects the election to be a battle that pits the Liberal vision of Canada against that of the Alliance, which advocates steeper tax cuts, including a single rate income tax, an end to regional economic development programs and greater provincial autonomy.
Mr. Chrétien was particularly scathing about Mr. Day's idea to let the provinces set all national social standards and to collect all revenue, doling out to the federal government only that money that the premiers deem necessary.
"It's even worse than the head waiter1 that Joe Clark was," Mr. Chrétien said, referring to Mr. Trudeau's indictment of Mr. Clark's notion of Canada as a "community of communities."4
"It's a recipe to destroy the fibre of the nation. You need a national leader in the nation."
He said it's absurd that the federal government would have to rely on "the generosity" of premiers such as Ontario's Mike Harris or Quebec's Lucien Bouchard to address national concerns.
Mr. Chrétien said Mr. Day is being naive if he thinks his province-friendly
agenda will win votes among Quebec separatists. "It's naivete. For me, he's
one of those who believes...he is smarter than everyone else and he will
seduce them. A separatist cannot be seduced. He will remain a separatist.
He can only be defeated."
(text of August 29, 2000 National Post front-page article)
Copyright © 2000 National Post Online
1-WHEN I HAVE THE TIME TO DO THEM, I'LL DO THE TERMS OF REFERENCE ABOUT THE ONE AND ONLY TIME I HAD A JOB AS A WAITER, THAT I PROMISED TO SEND THEN-PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN BEFORE HE LEFT OFFICE.
I'VE BEEN FIRED FROM TWO JOBS IN MY EMPLOYMENT HISTORY, AND THAT WAS ONE OF THEM: BEING A WAITER IN A TORONTO AREA WELFARE HOSTEL/CAFETERIA WHICH INSPIRED A CANADIAN NATIONAL NEWSPAPER ARTICLE AT ONE TIME ABOUT THE VIOLENT ATMOSPHERE SURROUNDING IT.
IN THE MEANTIME, VISITORS TO MY AWARD-WINNING WEBSITE MIGHT LIKE TO READ THE POEM I WROTE ABOUT THAT EXPERIENCE...AND THE MORE EXPANSIVE ATMOSPHERE OF THAT 1981-82 PORTION OF THE TIME I HAVE ENJOYED MY CONTINUING INCOME POTENTIAL BECAUSE OF THE TERM OF REFERENCE THAT CAN BE FOUND EVERYTIME CHRETIEN'S NAME COMES UP ON MY AWARD-WINNING WEBSITE.
TO READ IT, TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE.
FOR MY OWN PART IN THIS CONTEXT, CONSIDER THE TERMS OF REFERENCE IN THE LIST YOU FIND IF YOU TAKE YOUR NEXT FOOTSTEP HERE.
3-CURIOUS, THIS CHOICE OF A WORD.
IT CAME UP IN ANOTHER FRONT-PAGE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE LESS THAN A WEEK AGO FROM THE DATE OF THIS REPORT.
TO SEE WHAT IT WAS USED TO DESCRIBE THEN, TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE.
WOULD IT BE PRESUMPTUOUS FOR ME TO SPECULATE HOW THE MAN RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU FIND IF YOU TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE CAN STILL BE YAPPING IN THIS ERA OF A RENEWAL OF A WORLD-WIDE ANARCHY MOVEMENT?
4-I DON'T HAVE MUCH GOOD TO SAY ABOUT THE MAN EITHER (AS YOU WILL SEE BY THE ITEM IN QUESTION). BUT TO NOT DRAW ATTENTION TO WHAT YOU FIND IF YOU TAKE A BRIEF SIDESTEP HERE WOULD BE...IF NOT SHOWING LIBERAL-STYLE LEADERSHIP...AT LEAST INDICATIVE OF A FORMER WAITER/POTWASHER IN A TORONTO AREA WELFARE CAFETERIA...AND ALL THAT HE HAD/HAS TO OFFER THE COUNTRY OF HIS BIRTH WHERE THIS MAN HAS DECLINED TO DO SO SINCE 1978...