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The Article

Compared to pipsqueak McKenna Paul Cellucci stands far taller

I was in the midst of Paul’s Cellucci’s reminiscences about his stint as American ambassador to Ottawa when Canada’s own ambassador to Washington, Frank McKenna described the U.S. political system as “dysfunctional.”

Well, McKenna’s a Liberal, so any system in which every elected individual gets a say, isn’t browbeaten and bullied into toeing the party line, and in which all power doesn’t reside in the hands of the equivalent of the prime minister might well seem unsatisfactory to someone like the former New Brunswick premier.

In the U.S., President George W. Bush not only has to try and win over Republican senators to get his policies passed and his appointments approved, but also Democratic senators, too.

No one—McKenna included—can imagine Prime Minister Paul Martin listening to the views of Conservatives MPs. Particularly not when it comes to appointments to the Canadian Senate or ‘our’ Supreme Court of Canada.

McKenna is rumoured a successor to Martin, but let’s pray to God—and democracy—he doesn’t become prime minister.

From his latest utterings we can now gather McKenna will have as little tolerance for representative democracy as Martin and his predecessor, Jean Chretien. All power will still rest within the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Cellucci’s book Unquiet Diplomacy (Key Porter, $36.95) recounts not only Cellucci’s four-year stint in Ottawa, but also his 30 years in elected politics in the U.S., culminating in his becoming a taxcutting governor of Massachusetts.

He was roundly criticized—condemned by many in the Lib-Left, who went so far as demanding he be expelled from Canada—for lecturing the Liberal governments of Chretien and Martin on what they were doing wrong in areas such as the war against terrorism, not getting onside with the U.S. in its liberation of Iraq, letting our military rust-out even as the world became increasingly more dangerous, and being duplicitous when it came to missile defence.

So, here we see Liberal hypocrisy once more at work: The urbane and quietly sophisticated Cellucci was even described as “Bush’s thug in Canada” for giving some expert advice, while diehard Grit McKenna gets a free ride for suggesting the U.S. system of democratic check and balances is “dysfunctional” and puts that country in “gridlock.”

Perhaps McKenna, like one suspects Chretien and Martin, would prefer Opposition MPs not even be able to question Liberals on their policies. Well, the Grits, by taking away Opposition days in the Commons this fall to avoid votes that might defeat them, have pretty much shown they will brook no interference. Dysfunctional? You bet. Only McKenna was referring to the wrong country.

So give me Cellucci’s and the U.S. system of representative government any day to the iron-fisted “gridlock” the Chretien/Martin regimes placed on democracy in Canada.

When I initially wrote about Cellucci’s book in “Loud and clear,” (Oct. 2) some readers had expected more “blood and guts” in the column judging from the book’s title and Cellucci’s penchant for telling it like it is when it came to how the Chretien/Martin duo had so often let down this country’s closest ‘ally’.

Well, “stern warnings” do dot the pages. Likely I was overly charmed by Cellucci’s accounts of his Italian-American childhood in Massachusetts. He has a marvellous way with words and a compelling way of taking you back to times when society had more stable values.

There’s no doubt Cellucci, set to be in Calgary Nov. 18, and Bush felt betrayed by the Liberals in Ottawa.

On the liberation of Iraq from an evil despot, the Chretien/ Martin clique wouldn’t even give moral support.

This, in a very real way, conjures up events leading up to the Gulf War following Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 in which then Liberal leader John Turner tried to prevent this country, then led by Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, from joining in the U.S.-led campaign to liberate that tiny nation and end Saddam’s genocide of the Kuwaiti people. Grits don’t change their dark spots.

At one point, in his assessment of current events, Cellucci bemoans no one can have any doubt if this country needed Washington’s help, the American people would always be there for us. But when America came calling, the Liberals slammed the door in their faces.

In conclusion, Cellucci and Bush stand far taller than Chretien and Martin. McKenna? He’s really just a pipsqueak.


Paul Jackson
Latest posts by Paul Jackson (see all)

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