Friday, February 18, 2005

Economist mag dubs PM 'Mr. Dithers'

The Economist, a well-known international magazine that I enjoy reading, has decided to paint Prime Minister Martin in a rather poor light. They claim he no longer the strong, decisive person who, as Finance Minister, made great strides with our economy. The cite examples of agendas being satisfied, but little progress being made with the Federal Gov't own agenda. For example, they make mention of the agreement signed with the Maritime provinces, allowing them to keep their oil and gas revenue while not losting equilization payments. They also mentioned how the Feds agreed to give the Provinces $41 billion over ten years for health care, without extracting any significant reforms.

They are suggesting that he is being too financially generous and is creating unrealistic expectations for other provinces who will want a bigger slice of the pie. His term as a minority PM could also be spun in a more positive light. No doubt, there's going to be a lot more discussion about the Gov't agenda and their ability to maintain their popularity as they release the budget this coming Wednesday. Chances are, we'll see an election in a year or two, with the Liberals returning to power with a majority. The Opposition Conservatives are making sense with their views on same-sex marriage, but the PM and former PM haven't lost credibility after testifying at the Gomery Commission into the the sponsorship scandal.

From the National Post
Economist mag dubs PM 'Mr. Dithers'

Alexander Panetta
Canadian Press

February 17, 2005

OTTAWA (CP) -- To hundreds of thousands of influential readers around the world, Canada's prime minister will now be known as an indecisive leader dubbed "Mr. Dithers."

The Economist magazine pronounced its dismay with Paul Martin's first 14 months in office under an article headlined, 'Mr. Dithers' and his Distracting Fiscal Cafeteria.

The prestigious British-based magazine said Martin has been a pale shadow of the deficit-slaying finance minister long respected by the economic community.

"Mr. Martin, a successful finance minister for almost a decade until 2002, cannot quite shake off the impression that Canada's top job is too big for him," says the Economist in its Feb. 17 edition.

"His faltering leadership has earned him the sobriquet of 'Mr Dithers.' "

Canadian leaders were snapping up copies of the magazine -- which has a circulation of about 900,000 and is sold in dozens of countries -- over a year ago when it carried a front-page graphic of a moose wearing sunglasses to accompany an article calling Canada "cool."

Then-prime minister Jean Chretien couldn't stop referring to the story, which cited new laws on marijuana decriminalization and same-sex marriage as proof of Canada's 'coolness.'

The current prime minister is now taking exception to the Economist's view of Canadian politics.

"Only (Economist) readers who live in Canada can say theirs is a government that is delivering an eighth consecutive balanced budget," said Martin spokesman Scott Reid.

"(It's making) record investments in health care, child care, cities and the environment while also retiring billions in debt.

"No doubt readers from all other nations will feel a good measure of envy for what Canada has -- and is accomplishing under the leadership of Paul Martin."

But the magazine's writers say Martin has made little progress on federal initiatives while offering up billions in cash for provincial programs.

"The federal government has seemed slow and hesitant in pushing ahead with its own agenda," says the article.

And in an apparently unintended twist on Pierre Trudeau's famous line about Joe Clark -- "headwaiter to the provinces" -- the accompanying cartoon depicts Martin as an apron-clad chef shovelling tax dollars onto the plates of hungry customers.

While top federal priorities like the long-awaited foreign policy review remain under construction, the government has kept itself active mainly by acquiescing to provincial cash demands, the article says.

It cites the $41 billion health agreement, where Martin agreed to a special side deal with Quebec last fall.

More recently a multibillion-dollar offshore promise to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia led to an avalanche of demands from other provinces, the Economist article adds.

And there are already musings of a side deal with Quebec in the creation of a $5 billion national child-care program.

Events of the last few months have made the Feb. 23 budget even more important than most -- and perhaps crucial in deciding the next election, says the Economist.

"It should allow Mr. Martin to set some priorities, rather than responding to those of others," it says.

"But if Mr. Martin is to win that election when it comes, perhaps next spring, he will have to show more of his decisive leadership of old."
© Canadian Press 2005

website page counter