In the Thursday July 16, 2009 edition of The Globe And Mail of Toronto, columnist Lawrence Martin expressed his admiration for former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. This following the announcement that Chretien would be named to The Order of Merit by Queen Elizabeth. As such, Chretien would join the likes of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa.
Martin weighs the pros and cons for including Chretien in such prestigious company. As for demerits, he missed a few:
1. the White Paper on Indian Policy 1969. This outrage would have capped Canada’s assimilation project for First Nations. The Nisga’a decision of 1973 proved how wrong then Indian Affairs Minister Chretien and his Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had been.
2. Chretien’s constant shilling about business opportunities in an anti-democratic China. In his farewell address to a Liberal Party convention that selected the doomed Stephane Dion to replace him, Chretien chose to attack the ruling Conservatives for criticizing China about its human rights record. In a rare appearance in support of Dion in the 2008 federal election, Chretien weirdly chose to speak about – you guessed it- cozying up to China. Promoting China is actually part of Chretien’s job as a lawyer for Canadian businesses with interests there.
Like George W. Bush, Jean Chretien skillfully cultivated a ‘man of the people’(le p’tit’ gars de Shawinigan) persona. As a politician and in his new corporate life, Chretien has seldom been on the side of the little guy against the big shots as Martin argues.