column was published in the North
Shore News on
Oct. 18, 2000)
Election call saves Liberals embarrassment
By Leo Knight
the eve of a federal election, hastily called by a prime
minister who may well be more mistrusted by this nation than
Brian Mulroney was at his lowest ebb, Canadians are faced with a
choice between the same old thing or a chance for something new.
seems little doubt the upcoming election will be won or lost in
rural Ontario. This stands true for both the Liberals of Jean
Chretien and the Canadian Alliance of Stockwell Day. Equally
clear is the battle the Libs will have for the few seats they
currently hold in Western Canada.
is this more likely to be a bloodbath than in the riding of
Edmonton West, fertile Day territory, currently held by Justice
Minister Anne McLellan, whose record of inaction is really quite
has established herself as a loyal Chretien lapdog and her only
accomplishment in office, if indeed it can be called an
accomplishment, is her nurturing into life Allan Rock's hated
gun control legislation. At a cost to the taxpayer of $547
million and counting, the legislation does precious little to
actually control illegal use of weapons and everything to
increase an already bloated bureaucracy.
also, incidentally, requires almost 500 RCMP officers to work
it. Considering the shortage of RCMP officers on the front
lines, this merely compounds the lunacy of the legislation.
it is this record she will go to the voters with, her 1,100 seat
majority is in trouble. Indeed, the newly-nominated Alliance
candidate in her riding, Betty Unger, said at a rally Saturday,
"I'm a little surprised at their arrogance.
they really think people have such short memories," she
asked. Yes, Betty, I'm afraid that is exactly what the Liberals
are counting on.
what is really striking about a fall election is that it is
totally unnecessary just over three years into a five-year
mandate. The Liberals leave their much-vaunted new Young
Offender's Act on the order paper. Then there is their claimed
tough stand on organized crime.
year, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights formed
a sub-committee on organized crime in response to things like
the biker wars in Quebec among other areas of concern. They
travelled all around the country hearing from police officers
and others who investigate organized crime. They even, smarmily,
asked for protection from the RCMP in the wake of the shooting
of Montreal crime reporter, Michel Auger, so sensitive, they
claimed, their hearings were.
were supposed to hear from Brian McAdam, the former Foreign
Services officer whose investigations were the impetus for the
Sidewinder probe, inexplicably killed by the brass of CSIS
despite the protests of many CSIS and RCMP investigators
involved. The same investigators later accused the Prime
Minister's Office of stepping in and ordering the investigation
shut down. But he has been cancelled for some reason. Also
scheduled to present to the sub-committee is Vancouver Police
Officer Jim Fisher, who has just returned from a three-year
secondment as the Asian Crime intelligence coordinator for
Criminal Intelligence Services Canada.
with an election call, the sub-committee, which was due to
report to the House of Commons on Oct. 31, dies a slow death.
Along with it, so does all the information it collected. No
report will ever be written. It will be like it never happened.
calling an election this fall, Chretien accomplishes several
things. He forces Day to the polls before the Alliance is ready
with a full slate of nominations and before the new leader of
the Alliance gets to make his mark in the Commons.
kills the Young Offender's Act, which was heading for a showdown
with Bloc MPs and the government of Lucien Bouchard. He gets to
capitalize on the better-than-expected surpluses by introducing
a so-called "mini-budget" stealing the Alliance's
thunder on tax cuts.
also minimizes the expected damaging Auditor General's report on
the so-called billion-dollar boondoggle by the HRDC ministry. An
election call so soon after the report is released, means
neither the PM nor Jane "Dough" Stewart will have to
face the Opposition's withering daily fire in the Commons.
Chretien is also betting the election will focus the media on
other matters. Tragically, he is probably correct.
most importantly, he silences the sub-committee, the only
remaining entity which could damage him, in the face of the
allegations of political interference in the Sidewinder fiasco.
'tit Jean, the little guy from Shawinigan, has done it again.
But unlike his so-called political mentor, Pierre Trudeau,
Chretien has no vision for this country. His only raison d'etre
is power at all costs.
All that remains is to see whether the country decides that cost is too high.