(This column was published in the North Shore News on Nov. 1, 2000)


Check Liberal party's record, not values

By Leo Knight

"BEWARE the forces of the Dark Side," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien told the assembled lickspittles at the 50th National Liberal Congress.  


Either he has just won the complete works of George Lucas or Warren Kinsella is now writing his speeches as well as conducting his backroom propaganda campaign.  


In his speech, Chrétien did not name the Canadian Alliance but left little doubt to whom he was referring. The prime minister was trying to paint the Alliance and its leader, Stockwell Day, as extreme right wing types who will destroy this country.  


Now, it should be said that Liberal spin doctors were quick off the mark to deny the prime minister was referring to the Alliance. Considering he is embroiled in an election campaign and recent polls show his lead is slipping and he referred to "those who would like us to lose the election," it is left for you decide if he was trying to paint the Alliance as fascist, extremist and evil.  


Chrétien launched his election bid saying it is all about "values." Liberal values, presumably. He said the election is about the future. Good thing, I suppose. The last thing this government should run on is their record. Which, I should point out, is a whole lot less than stellar.  


In 1997, Chrétien dissolved the shortest mandate since 1911 to go to the people and got a substantially reduced majority government. He has managed to beat that record in calling this election with two years to run on the last mandate. Political opportunism is certainly the reason.  


In 1993, Chrétien vowed to rid this country of the hated GST. When exactly, he did not say. He promised to re-negotiate free trade. He hasn't. Why exactly, he did not say.  


His failure to keep campaign promises brings into question his so-called mini-budget, which because it was never debated in the House prior to the election call, is nothing more than a promise.  


But all of this is really minor stuff. Telling perhaps, but minor.  


What this election should really be about is the scandals and whether or not Canadians want more of this.  


How many more police investigations and charges laid will be required into the HRDC debacle before someone in Chrétien's government takes some responsibility? He just doesn't seem to care. He even kicked off his election campaign in the same hotel in Shawinigan which received $600,000 in federal grant money before it even applied. The police are investigating that particular little sleight of hand but the prime minister doesn't even care about the optics of having his campaign launch there.  


He shut down the Somalia enquiry just when it was starting to get to the meat of the issues (and close to the government). What about the whole Hep-C fiasco? Or pulling the puppet strings on the APEC enquiry by planning to pin the blame on the police commander on the ground, Hugh Stewart?  


Grabbing a protester by the throat, pushing a reporter, gutting a cabinet minister so he could appoint a non-MP to his cabinet simply to court the Atlantic Canada vote. These are all sins of this prime minister.  


And then there's the whole Project Sidewinder issue. In my view, Sidewinder should itself be enough to ensure this man never gets close to the levers of power again. But there's hardly a mention of it.  


No, so far this election campaign has been all about trying to paint the Canadian Alliance as extremist, right-wing fanatics who would destroy this country. Not that there's any evidence of any sort of extremist views. On the contrary, it seems to me that the views expressed by Stockwell Day so far have been measured and sprinkled with a large dose of common sense.  


Yet, thus far the media, with a few notable exceptions, have yet to provide a serious analysis of the Liberal record or the principle differences between the two main parties. Instead, we get drivel, like complaining about Day's grammar when he speaks French. Given the way Chrétien massacres the English language one is hard pressed to understand how a Toronto Star columnist could devote any space to that topic let alone the bulk of a column.  


Internet discussion groups also seem to be indicative of the same thing. Alliance and other supporters try to talk about the issues and the Liberal proponents will not debate. They trot out all the fear rhetoric that Chrétien himself now seems to be resorting to.  


Liberals like to think of themselves as the natural party of government. The way this campaign is evolving it seems they will do or say anything to get re-elected, even raising the spectre of the horrors of Naziism.  


* * *  


While I'm on the topic, what's with Premier Ujjal Dosanjh? Has he no shame? In the past month he has evoked the memories of Pierre Trudeau and Heather Thomas to try and shore up his ever-diminishing political fortunes.  


He never met Trudeau, though he's every bit the socialist Trudeau was. As for young Heather Thomas, he had lots of time while Attorney General to get tough on crime and repeat offenders. What he did was ensure repeat offenders see no consequences for their actions.  


He cannot now claim the higher moral ground on crime issues. He was wrong then and he is wrong now. Especially on the issue of pedophiles. Good Lord, he was responsible for the sweetheart deal given to former school principal William Bennest.  


What, is he trying to outdo Chrétien in the arrogance department?  






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