Thursday, May 04, 2006

Martin Should Stay Home

Paul Martin returned to the House of Commons today to deliver a spirited criticism of the Tories childcare plan. Given the reaction, I think it best that Mr. Martin stay away:
Former prime minister Paul Martin delivered a scathing attack on the Conservative government's child-care plan Thursday, only to come under fire from NDP and Bloc Quebecois members.

It was his first speech to the Commons since his party lost the January election...

But in a sign the last election has not yet completely played itself out, Mr. Martin earned withering rebuttals from not only the new Tory minority government, but also from NDP and Bloc Quebecois MPs.

The government and the other parties basically tore Martin to shreds for obvious reasons. If the Liberals wish to effectively criticize the childcare plan, then someone with some credibility should take the lead. All Martin did was allow for a re-examination of the Liberal legacy, as well as the contrast with the new government's relative quick action. Martin's presence was a net negative- his baggage distracted from the real merit in the criticism.

I don't hate Paul Martin, but his presence isn't helpful for a party which must break from the past. Today's episode should serve as a warning sign, with regards to how the Liberal leadership convention should be framed. I know Liberals will want to celebrate their legacy, but it would be best to keep the old guard on the back burner. What happened to Martin today, is the same scenario we keep seeing everytime interim leader Bill Graham speaks. We hear the criticism, followed by the reporter questions, which invariably references the former government's record and immediately the discussion becomes defensive. The debate must surround this government for it to impact Canadians opinion. Everytime an old order Liberal rises, the optics change and the message is lost. Politically, the best thing Mr. Martin can do for his country and his party is just stay home.

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