Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Woe Canada
NY Times ^ | April 19, 2005 | David Frum

Posted on 04/18/2005 10:16:31 PM PDT by neverdem


I LOVE Canada: It's so clean!" Visiting Americans may be about to lose their favorite cliché about their chilly neighbor. Over the past few weeks, a judicial inquiry in Montreal has heard charges that Canada's governing Liberal Party was running a system of extortion, embezzlement, kickbacks and graft as dirty as anything Americans might expect to find in your run-of-the-mill banana republic.

Just last week, for example, Canadians learned that one of the closest friends of former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien was paid more than $5 million for work that was never done and on the authority of invoices that were forged or faked. It is charged that this same friend then arranged for up to $1 million to be kicked back in campaign contributions to Mr. Chrétien's Liberal party.

Corruption charges have dogged the Chrétien Liberals for years. Mr. Chrétien left office in 2003 under suspicion that he had pressured a government-owned bank to lend money to businesses in which he held an interest. But until recently, nobody was able to prove anything worse than carelessness and waste. Now, though, the improper flood of money from the public treasury is being connected to a reciprocal flow of money to the Liberal Party and favored insiders, including Mr. Chrétien's brother.

And because Mr. Chrétien's successor, Paul Martin, failed to win a parliamentary majority in last year's federal election, Mr. Chrétien's old survival strategy of denial and delay no longer works. Together, the opposition Conservative and Bloc Québécois parties could force an election call at any time. Opinion polls suggest that if an election were held now, the Liberals would lose decisively.

The discrediting and defeat of Canada's Liberal government would constitute a grand event in Canadian history: after all, the Liberals have ruled Canada almost without challenge for the past 12 years and for almost 80 of the past 109 years. But the kickback scandal could reverberate outside Canada's borders too.

Many Americans see Canada as a kind of utopian alternative to the United States: a North American democracy with socialized medicine, same-sex marriage, empty prisons, strict gun laws and no troops in Iraq.

What they don't see is how precarious political support for this alternative utopia has become among Canadian voters in recent years. From World War II until the 1980's, Liberal power rested on two political facts: its dominance in French-speaking Quebec and its popularity in the immigrant communities of urban Ontario.

Over the past two decades, however, the Liberals' Quebec-plus-the-cities strategy has worked less and less well.

As French-speaking Quebecers have become more self-confidently nationalistic, they have turned their backs on the intensifying centralism and paternalism of the Liberals. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau rewrote the Canadian Constitution in the early 80's over the objections of the Quebec government of the day. In none of the six federal elections since have the Liberals won even half of Quebec's seats in Parliament.

Luckily for the Liberals, the Conservative Party split into warring factions in 1993. Consequently, the Liberals were able to return to power that year even though they won only 37 percent of the vote.

Almost everything that Jean Chrétien did as prime minister over the next decade can be understood as an effort to reverse his party's long-term problems. He edged to the right on economic issues in the hope of appealing to middle-income voters alienated by Mr. Trudeau's economic mismanagement. He veered leftward on social issues in the hope of finding a new constituency among wealthier Ontarians and Quebecers. After 9/11, he struck anti-American and anti-Israel attitudes that he hoped would resonate in isolationist Quebec and among certain immigrant communities.

And it was presumably for these same reasons that Mr. Chrétien set in motion his kickback scheme. As Liberal strength in Quebec has decayed, the Liberals have found it more and more difficult to hold together an effective political organization in the province. How do you sustain a political party without principles or vision? Sometimes you do it with graft.

So in 1995 a multimillion-dollar emergency national unity fund was established. The fund was justified as a way to win Quebecers away from separatism by sponsoring sporting events and cultural projects across the province. The fund failed in its ostensible purpose. But what the scheme did do was create a huge unmonitored slush fund from which key political figures in the province could be rewarded. A large portion of those rewards, the judicial inquiry in Montreal is being told, were then kicked back as campaign contributions to the Liberal Party and as payments to Liberal insiders.

Some Liberals defend the scheme as a noble plan gone wrong, an attempt to beat back separatism that was unfortunately corrupted by a few bad apples. But when so many apples go bad, you have to suspect that the barrel is rotten.

Unlike their supposed analogues, the Democrats in the United States or Great Britain's Labor Party, Canada's Liberals are not a party built around certain policies and principles. They are instead what political scientists call a brokerage party, similar to the old Italian Christian Democrats or India's Congress Party: a political entity without fixed principles or policies that exploits the power of the central state to bribe or bully incompatible constituencies to join together to share the spoils of government.

As countries modernize, they tend to leave brokerage parties behind. Very belatedly, that moment of maturity may now be arriving in Canada. Americans may lose their illusions about my native country; Canadians will gain true multiparty democracy and accountability in government. It's an exchange that is long past due.

David Frum, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is a columnist for The National Post, a Canadian newspaper.

TOPICS: Canada; Crime/Corruption; Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: adscam; davidfrum; embezzlement; frauds; gomery; montreal; quebec; swindling
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-30 next last

1 posted on 04/18/2005 10:16:33 PM PDT by neverdem
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: neverdem

This story has been reported in here on Free Republic also under the tittle of Gomery Inquiry or Gomery Testimony.

2 posted on 04/18/2005 10:19:49 PM PDT by april15Bendovr
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Sacre bleu! You wouldn't happen to know where I could find a French translation?

3 posted on 04/18/2005 10:23:16 PM PDT by incredulous joe ("The floggings will continue until the general morale improves!")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

4 posted on 04/18/2005 10:23:23 PM PDT by Andy from Beaverton (I only vote Republican to stop the Democrats)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
The Liberals are no longer the party of French-speaking Canada. And they are slowly losing their grip on immigrant community voters in no small part to their dismissal of Canadians' views on traditional marriage. Add these two facts together and the Liberals are in trouble. Without any real program to offer and tired after a decade in power, their remaining card to play is the nationalist Canadian card. It may yet save them in the forthcoming election.

(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
5 posted on 04/18/2005 10:24:43 PM PDT by goldstategop (In Memory Of A Dearly Beloved Friend Who Lives On In My Heart Forever)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
I put little faith in Canadian election polling after they were off the mark in the last election. At the end of the election period, the Liberals will body check the Conservatives and NDP by scaring the Ontario urban and suburban constituency into voting Liberal. And I doubt the Conservatives can win a majority of ridings without Quebec.

Unless something fundamentally changes, the best possible outcome for the Conservatives would be having the largest number of seats in a minority government, I'm afraid. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't share David Frum's optimism.
6 posted on 04/18/2005 10:42:25 PM PDT by conservative in nyc
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
The Liberals also tried to create support by breaking things, then claiming to be the ones who are going to fix it.
An example of this is Paul Martin's "balanced budget" he created during Chretien's dictatorship. What he did was cut 100 billion dollars out of federal transfer payments to the provinces for health care, causing lay offs, cut backs, closing of hospital beds, delays or cancellations of medical equipment purchases, and creating the long lines Canada has now become famous for.
Now that Canadians have forgotten who caused the Canadian health care system to crumble, he's trying to fool them into thinking he now has the answers to fix it, including the "generous" injection of our own money, 10 billion dollars, back into the system. Of course, Canadians being the forgetful sheep they are, buy this scam hook line and sinker, and believe the scare tactics of "evil social conservatives" being out to destroy the health care system, even though the conservative camp promises that no such agenda exists.
Of course, the sheeple in eastern Canada will tremble in fear, believe every word of the crooks who want to remain in control of that lovely, easy to take taxpayer money, and vote the liberals back in yet again.
Such a people deserve such a government.
It is a shame to see a country go down the tubes like this, but this should serve as an example to all Americans why we must never allow the government to take away our power to control it, which is the agenda of our own 'liberals' in theDemocrat party to do, take away our freedom to choose.
7 posted on 04/18/2005 10:48:29 PM PDT by Nathan Zachary
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Ship all the libs north and all you conservative Canadians move south...then we can party like it's 1999!....

8 posted on 04/19/2005 12:58:06 AM PDT by Route101
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: neverdem; All
 ADSCAM -- Canada's Corruption Scandal Breaks Wide Open

9 posted on 04/19/2005 1:33:30 AM PDT by backhoe (-30-)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]


One for the Canadian Ping list, I should think!

10 posted on 04/19/2005 1:55:54 AM PDT by Don W (Courage is the ladder on which all the other virtues mount.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: conservative in nyc
To put what you've said in a somewhat different light, last June roughly 3 weeks prior to the election date, the newly re-united CPC was plainly - according to both published and internal polls - headed towards a strong minority or slight majority government.

At this point, the Liberals working in tandem with virtually all of Canada's msm went into high gear with a slanderous and strident fear campaign to paint both Harper personally and the Party as "extremists". Rather than continuing with the - till then - successful strategy of hammering away at Liberal corruption and entrenched arrogance, both immediately went almost totally on the defensive and it was subsequently all down hill.

A few months later, the American left and their media buddies threw everything they had into a similar smear campaign against President Bush. However, unlike Harper and the CPC, Bush gave no indication that he cared so much as a rat's hindquarters for what they had to say, simply stayed focused and on message no matter what was said and won - big time!

There's a real lesson here - if Kanuckistan's habitually self-defeating Tories are astute enough to grasp same.
11 posted on 04/19/2005 6:02:47 AM PDT by GMMAC (lots of terror cells in Canada - I'll be waving my US flag when the Marines arrive!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: Pikamax; Former Proud Canadian; Great Dane; Alberta's Child; headsonpikes; coteblanche; Ryle; ...


12 posted on 04/19/2005 6:05:44 AM PDT by GMMAC (lots of terror cells in Canada - I'll be waving my US flag when the Marines arrive!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: neverdem
This summary editorial is a great effort! In remarkably a few short words he describes the problem and the solution. Unfortunately, like at least one on this board I do believe the Liberals will muddle through. After a virtual century of rule, they know the levers to grease and pull. Too bad. This is one chance for Canada that should not be avoided. But it will. Too bad!

While not said in polite company, we do have the 10th Mountain Division handy if need be.

13 posted on 04/19/2005 7:49:09 AM PDT by shrinkermd
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: conservative in nyc

The Conservatives CAN win a majority without Quebec. They would likely need at least 65 seats in Ontario + 75 in the West + 15 in Atlantic Canada to get the majority.

Realistically, I see the Tories getting 20-25 in British Columbia (the rest mostly NDP), sweeping Alberta and Saskatchewan (42 seats total), 8-10 in Manitoba, 1 in the Arctic (Yukon), 55-65 in Ontario (most of the non-GTA seats plus a few suburban seats), 3 in New Brunswick, 5 in Nova Scotia, 1 in Prince Edward Island and 3 in Newfoundland and Labrador. That means they are ALMOST up to a majority - pull up a few more points and they are there with no seats in Quebec (a few there would be a treat).

14 posted on 04/19/2005 7:55:44 AM PDT by Heartofsong83
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]


Unfortunately, the Fiberals are expected to do the same thing - if not at an even harsher rate - this time around, as they are even more desperate.

15 posted on 04/19/2005 7:58:05 AM PDT by Heartofsong83
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Heartofsong83
Most assuredly. It's already started* and I've already begun sending some of the more blatant examples to my CPC e-lists.

My point is that it could have been largely overcome last time out by staying focused and on message. Desperation has a real stench about it and hopefully the Libs and their media lapdogs will grossly overplay their hand in the days to come.

*here's a real barf-bag example of already begun msn shameless Liberal ass-kissing:

Sat, April 16, 2005
Liberal senses political winds

Back when he was a member of London city council, Pat O'Brien wasn't much of a team player.

So it was no surprise when the Liberal MP from London-Fanshawe threatened to bolt from the party that has so upset him on the same-sex marriage issue and, more recently, the federal sponsorship fiasco.

O'Brien sensed an opportunity to prolong his political career by distancing himself from the Liberals as they sag in public opinion polls.

And while he says he's decided to stay and fight his battles within the party, O'Brien has made his point and no doubt hopes he'll benefit from his talk of independence.

His short-lived act of defiance included likening the head of his party's Ontario caucus to "a blond bimbo," a barb he soon regretted and for which he later apologized.

In his explanation, O'Brien said he felt Toronto-area MP Sarmite Bulte had "high-sticked" him when she complained Liberals who talked of fleeing the party were like rats fleeing a sinking ship. He said his insult was a "knee-jerk reaction of anger" from an "old hockey player."

The hockey player analogy was meant to explain his over-the-top retaliation. But it was ironic coming from a politician who has seldom been a team player, always looking for ways to ensure his political survival.

In fact, O'Brien is more of a street fighter than a hockey player. He can't resist a good counter-punch.

In the recent past on radio, he said he wouldn't stoop to the level of those who call same-sex opponents such as him "bigots." In the same breath, however, he called them "mini-minds." He later said he regretted that remark, too.

O'Brien, now 57, has been around politics a long time. The former high school history teacher was a trustee on the London board of education from 1980 to 1982. He was Ward 3 councillor from 1982 to 1993, when he won London-Fanshawe in the Liberal party sweep of 1993.

On council, he served as chair of London Transit and of several committees. He and wardmate Bernie MacDonald fought relentlessly for their east-end ward.

Despite his teaming with MacDonald, O'Brien had an independent, contrary streak noted by his colleagues on council. Former mayor Tom Gosnell, a one-time football quarterback, traditionally huddled with council members before important votes to ensure consensus on important issues and to avoid nasty outbursts on the council floor.

Gosnell complained to this scribe that he never knew for sure how O'Brien would vote. O'Brien was famous for ascertaining who was packing the public gallery -- and then voting to please them. An opportunist, he could sense the political wind and capitalize on it.

As an MP, he has twice served as chair of the Commons standing committee on national defence and veterans' affairs. In that latter capacity, he is chair of a committee looking into Canada's controversial purchase of four submarines from Britain. A fire aboard one of them, HMCS Chicoutimi, claimed the life of an officer. The report from that committee is expected next week.

The backbencher has also pushed for a mid-winter national holiday and for closer ties with Ireland.

A Roman Catholic, he has consistently opposed abortion and same-sex marriages -- contrary to his party's stance, which he openly criticizes.

He first talked publicly about leaving the Liberals a couple of months ago. There is no question he feels strongly on these matters, on moral grounds.

By happy coincidence, he has been able to gain traction on both issues that transcends party lines.

This weekend, for instance, he's a headliner at a rally organized by a variety of groups opposed to same-sex marriage. The applause-seeker will be winning supporters among those who have traditionally supported Alliance and Conservative candidates.

During the last election campaign, O'Brien was the darling of the local Muslim community, which is a growing force in his riding. At an all-candidates meeting held by the Association of London Muslims, O'Brien distributed campaign material in Arabic. He stressed the opposition he shares with them on same-sex marriage. And he reminded the crowd of 300 he supports Arabs and Palestinians, opposes Israel's wall around Palestinian areas and that he played a big role in the election of Khalil Ramal, the first Muslim MPP elected in the region.

When O'Brien was first elected to Parliament Hill, he rode a Liberal wave as Canadians had grown weary of the government of a Conservative government under Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell.

Now that polls show the Liberals have fallen out of favour, O'Brien doesn't mind the perception he's created that there remains some distance between him and the brand he finds sometimes troublesome.

Time will tell whether the strategy of this not-really-a-Liberal continues to work.

Chip Martin is a "political reporter" with The London Free Press. His column appears on Saturdays.
16 posted on 04/19/2005 10:37:13 AM PDT by GMMAC (lots of terror cells in Canada - I'll be waving my US flag when the Marines arrive!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]


Another case of Mr. Dithers trying to buy favour to keep him in the caucus. Had he not backtracked on ramming gay marriage down our throats (instead having full committees), then he would be sitting as an Independent (or a Conservative) right now...

17 posted on 04/19/2005 10:39:42 AM PDT by Heartofsong83
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 16 | View Replies]

To: shrinkermd
While not said in polite company, we do have the 10th Mountain Division handy if need be.

I think major units of the 10th Mountain Division are otherwise occupied.(Check the last paragraphs of that link.) I think the same can be said of New York's 42nd Infantry Division.

18 posted on 04/19/2005 1:08:18 PM PDT by neverdem (May you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows that you're dead.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: neverdem

Canada isn't as clean as you think. I drove thru Windsor, ON today and there is litter everywhere. But then thats Windsor, and Canadians claim it is "American" whatever that means.

19 posted on 04/19/2005 6:08:57 PM PDT by rasblue (What would Barry Goldwater do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Route101

Ship all the libs north and all you conservative Canadians move south...then we can party like it's 1999!....

Trust me many Canadians try, but the Mexicans keep skipping the line and its very hard for a Canadian to get a genuine Green Card without getting married to an American. Non-immigrant visas are easy to get though.

20 posted on 04/19/2005 6:11:15 PM PDT by rasblue (What would Barry Goldwater do?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-30 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson