Saturday, October 04, 2008

Paul Martin - King of Wishful Thinking

Could Paul Martin be considering a comeback?

When considering recent comments made by former Prime Minister Paul Martin in Calgary, three possibilities come to mind.

Either he's considering a comeback attempt as Liberal leader, he really believes the Liberals can still turn this election around, or he's hopelessly deluded.

"Let me simply say, on October 14, we will elect a Liberal government," Martin pronounced.

Martin made the comments during a speech in which he took current Prime Minister Stephen Harper -- the man who unseated him from the country's top job -- for task about allegedly not having an economic plan.

"Stephen Harper hasn't come up with a plan. If he's so good, why doesn't he come up with a plan? If he's the prime minister of this country, why is he afraid to deal with the issues?" Martin demanded.

Martin then touted his own (mostly) considerable record as finance minister in Jean Chretien's Liberal government.

"When we took office in 1993, the Conservatives left us with a $43 billion deficit. Four years later, that deficit was gone, and when we left office 2.5 years ago, there was a $12 billion surplus and no other country in the world can match that record," Martin crowed.

Of course he isn't mentioning that Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government left a considerable deficit for Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government, nor is he mentioning that his party accomplished this by cutting billions of dollars from health care.

If one were to ask Martin himself he would insist that he isn't thinking about attempting a political comeback. In fact, he isn't even running for reelection.

"I've been there, done that. Time to go on to other things and I've been very clear that the aboriginal issues in Canada and Africa are where I'm going to be putting my time," Martin insists.

Yet Paul Martin Jr, the man who so badly wanted to accomplish what his father, Paul Martin Sr, never could simply cannot be expected to walk away from politics so easily. With his goal of winning a majority government (prior to the 2004 election Martin speculated that he thought he could win the biggest majority in Canadian history) still unaccomplished and his successor, Stephane Dion, set to be turfed out of the Liberal leadership following an impending electoral defeat, it isn't hard to imagine that succeeding his own successor isn't too far from Martin's mind.

Of course, if Martin had any such designs, he couldn't be seen predicting anything but a Liberal victory on October 14.

Of course, if Martin imagines that his political career hasn't been hopelessly damaged by the sponsorship scandal and by all the intra-party animosity that has arisen as a result of his fingering of Jean Chretien as the party's fall guy, then he is hopelessly deluded.

Martin likely knows these things as well as anyone. He certainly must know that Calgary is the last place to look for a foothold to win a Liberal victory.

But if Paul Martin doesn't, then he is the king of wishful thinking.

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