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Farewell Jean Chretien

There has already been a lot said about the end of Jean Chretien's tenure as our Prime Minister, so I don't have a lot to add.

He certainly has his critics, but all in all I feel that he deserves the high level of support that he has won.

Suggestions that his legacy is thin are missing the point that good management doesn't always make a lot of noise.

John Ibbitson today slammed Chretien for overstaying his welcome, but he still had to give him credit for a job well done:

Jean Chrétien bid farewell to the Liberal Party last night by claiming that this was the best time in our lives to be a Canadian. He is right, and we owe him tribute for that.


At the end of an evening of song — Paul Anka's new lyrics to My Way stole the show — of dance, of retrospective, of schmaltz, Mr. Chrétien reminded us that when he became Prime Minister in 1993, the country was in financial chaos and teetering on the edge of dissolution.

Canadians, he told several thousand Liberals at Toronto's Air Canada Centre, "wanted their country back. They wanted it turned around. They wanted to be proud again."

And today we can be proud, of a federal government whose fiscal probity is the envy of the world, of dampened centrifugal forces (even the West wants back in) and of a raft of socially progressive legislation — campaign-finance reform, marijuana decriminalization, same-sex marriage, aid to Africa — that places Canada among the vanguard of enlightened nations.

"We have never been more united," Mr. Chrétien declared. "We have never been more proud. We have never been more sure of who we are. We have never been more eager, more prepared to take on the world." He had every right to make that claim, and every right to take some of the credit.

Chretien also deserves credit for standing firm for Canada in the face of fierce pressure over Iraq. We were on the right side of the margin both there, and in Afghanistan.

Add Kyoto, too, even if I think we could be doing it better.

This government has not been perfect, and it clearly shows signs of having been in power too long. There is plenty to criticize. But in the big picture, I'm happy with what they have acheived and how this country has been guided over the past decade.

This new guy everyone is excited about has some big shoes to fill.



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