Ottawa: The PM: After the first six months

The PM: After the first six months

Windsor Star (Ontario)
June 2, 2004 Wednesday Final Edition

Prime Minister Paul Martin, like all politicians mired in an election
campaign, is running on a slew of promises. In his first week on the
hustings, Martin promised to hand cities at least $2 billion annually
from the federal gasoline tax and dump nine billion new dollars into
health care without raising taxes or introducing premiums to pay
for either.

But promises come cheap. Ontarians learned that the hard way when
Premier Dalton McGuinty whacked them with the biggest tax hike in a
decade just months after vowing on the stump to not raise taxes and
to balance the books.

With that in mind, prudent voters have no choice but to assess
politicians — particularly those who’ve governed and had the chance
to make changes — on past performances just as much as future pledges.

So how does Martin’s performance stack up? What did he accomplish in
his 163 days as prime minister before dropping the writ that might
convince Canadians to vote for him?

Sadly, very little. First, Parliament under Martin was a legislative
wasteland. His government passed only one major new bill — a piece
of legislation handing municipalities a 100-per-cent rebate on
the GST. Most of the other bills it passed, like one to establish
independent ethics officers for the House and Senate and another to
change the Patent Act so generic companies could sell cheap AIDS drugs
to Africa, were recycled offerings introduced in Jean Chretien’s final
term. The few major bills Martin’s government actually introduced
died on the order paper when the election was called.

Second, Martin failed to slay what he termed the “democratic
deficit.” He consulted with more people, more often, to be sure; but
his efforts at democratic reform were half-baked. After promising more
free votes in the House, he cracked the whip on a vote to continue
funding the rifle and shotgun registry and forbade his cabinet
ministers from voting in favour of a motion condemning Turkey for
the 1915 Armenian genocide. On the Supreme Court front, Martin hasn’t
given any clear indication how he’ll pick judges, despite the fact two
vacancies are pending. Martin gave no indication he’s about to engage
in meaningful Senate reform that would take the appointment process out
of the PMO. And Martin’s plans to expand the powers of parliamentary
committees produced only the farce that was the sponsorship hearings.

That brings us to another of Martin’s failures. He bungled the
investigation into the advertising money scandal. After he pledged
to get to the bottom of the mess, the Liberal majority on the public
accounts committee cut short its inquiry into the alleged scam 12
days before the election call.

All this ignores a host of other positive changes Martin might have
made as prime minister. He could have scrapped the gun registry, began
work on Senate reform and started the ball rolling on a much-needed
retooling of the High Court. But he didn’t. Overall, he has little
to show for nearly six months at the country’s helm.

A Martin performance review would be unfair and incomplete if it
ignored his nearly nine years as finance minister. As a fiscal manager
he did trim spending and cut taxes to revitalize Canada’s economy
and balance the country’s books for five straight years. But his
record was hardly blemish free. His balanced budgets were largely the
result of slashed transfer payments to the provinces. The sponsorship,
HRDC and gun registry fiascos occurred on his watch.

Since winning the top job, Martin has proved relatively inept; he
talks a good game but takes no action.

For that reason Canadians are right to question if Martin might not
be better suited to playing second fiddle than leading the band. At
the very least they have to question the veracity of his election
promises. He hasn’t delivered as prime minister. Canadians have a
right to wonder if Martin would morph into the mailman if re-elected.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS