HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html The End Of The Cool Era
Pubdate: Fri, 09 Jan 2004
Source: Daily News, The (CN NS)
Copyright: 2004 The Daily News
Author: David Swick


Paul Martin is not yet prime minister, and he has already brought major 
change to this country. The result? Years from now we will look back on 
early 2003 as the pinnacle of progressive government in Canada.

The decriminalization of marijuana. Implementing measures to fulfill the 
Kyoto accord. Legalizing gay marriage. Refusing to join the U.S. in a 
foreign adventure. The government of Canada stood for all of these this year.

Boring old Canada was, for several heady months, not boring. We were 
noticed. Britain's highly-respected Economist magazine said it best: 
"Canada is cool."

That was then. Soon Jean Chretien will be yesterday's man, and the more 
conservative Paul Martin is taking over. All four of these significant 
liberal policies are in danger.

A year ago, Chretien fought to have Canada ratify the Kyoto Accord, and 
Martin actually voted for it. Today Chretien continues to push for its 
implementation, believing we should fulfill our commitment even if Russia 
bows to U.S. pressure and kills the deal internationally.

Martin today refuses to support Kyoto, instead making noises about a 
workable deal. What he means exactly is fuzzy, but one thing is clear. He 
is not making a commitment to cut back on greenhouse-gas emissions.

Canada this year appeared set to decriminalize marijuana, more than 30 
years after the LeDain Commission first recommended the move. Both the 
prime minister and justice minister were in favour. When the U.S. (in which 
12 states have decriminalized marijuana) made threatening noises, Chretien 
reminded them out loud that Canada is a sovereign country.

Martin, despite his habit of saying "let me make this perfectly clear," has 
been anything but clear on marijuana. If he allows our neighbours to 
dictate Canadian drug policy, we could face another 20 years of marijuana 
prohibition -- with all of the unnecessary expense, waste, and harm this 
entails. More than 27,000 people were charged with marijuana possession in 
this country last year.

Following B.C. and Ontario court rulings that gays and lesbians could not 
be denied the right to marry, the Chretien government declined to fight 
those decisions. Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have since been married.

Martin, in contrast, has not endorsed gay marriage. Neither has he endorsed 
civil unions (now the law in Vermont). He has never explained where he stands.

Chretien, despite tremendous pressure, refused to join the ill-conceived 
U.S. war in Iraq. Weapons of mass distraction were never found, and U.S. 
President George W. Bush's millionaire friends were given untendered 
contracts in that country. Rather than make the U.S. and its allies safer, 
the ongoing war threatens to do exactly the opposite.

Martin, meanwhile, is talking about moving Canada closer to the U.S. If he 
had been prime minister last winter, would we have stayed out of Iraq? Not 

Prime Minister Paul Martin may wind up being a liberal Liberal. His record 
suggests otherwise, but we can't be sure -- because he's saying so little. 
And he has no reason to articulate his policies before an election expected 
in April. His party is ahead in the polls, and more votes may soon come his 

Progressive Conservatives who don't like their party's shotgun wedding may 
have an easy choice: Paul Martin's new conservative Liberal Party.
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