For Paul Martin Jr. to maintain his grasp on the Liberal Party, and the government of Canada, discrediting Jean Chretien is not just a convenient way to attempt to distance himself from the corruption uncovered in Adscam, it is an absolute necessity to separate the present Liberal Party from the past.
This is not new in the grand scheme of history.
About 50 years ago, a gentlemen by the name of Lin Biao (or Piao) orchestrated the Cultural Revolution in Communist China. It turned into a disaster. So the party's leaders began a campaign to smear Lin and all those who had led and engineered the Cultural Revolution -- including, at one point, as I recall, the widow of the "sainted" Chairman Mao, the man whose thoughts Lin had collected and turned into a best-seller among the leftists of the 1960s. The party maintained its grasp on power, and Lin was soon forgotten.
At around the same time, in Russia (then known as the U.S.S.R.), the excesses of the late dictator, Joseph Stalin, were coming to the forefront. The leaders of the party began a campaign to minimize the deification of Stalin that had taken place during his reign of terror. It was, in large part, successful. The party maintained its power for another quarter-century.
Martin's campaign is along those lines.
But there is a fundamental difference.
Jean Chretien and his supporters are striking back, something that would not be heard of in the Chinese and Russian regimes of that day. They would have been shot or put in some gulag, never to be heard from again.
Paul Martin Jr. reminds me a great deal of Richard M. Nixon, the discredited U.S. president -- and the only one to resign: Two insecure men, both with an almost pathological need to hold their nation's highest office, willing to do whatever it takes to maintain that office once achieved. Nixon ran all kinds of dirty tricks to ensure his re-election in 1972, even though he did not need any of 'em. The McGovern campaign was a shambles, McGovern was too far off the left map for most Americans -- and don't forget the Tom Eagleton now-he's-the-VP-nominee, now-he's not farce. It was the coverup of the dirty tricks, not the dirty tricks themselves, that brought Nixon down. And it was his own party in the end -- with Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott, the right and left of the Republican party -- delivering the final blows. It took the GOP, despite the Reagan Revolution, almost 20 years to rebuild to the point where it could become a political force across the spectrum (and did, thanks to Newt Gingrich, Hillary's health care power grab, and the Contract with America).
In his first election after engineering the palace coup that ousted Chretien, Martin Jr. should have carried an easy majority, as Chretien had, against a brand-new party with a little-known leader. Instead, he wound up with a very shaky minority government, propped up by an third-party leader who sold whatever principles he might have had to cut a deal which Martin Jr. never had any intention of honoring. Martin Jr. also disrespected centuries of Parliamentary traditions by refusing to acknowledge a spring no-confidence vote as such, a move smacking of the desperation of a despot clinging valiantly to power.
For Martin Jr., the final chapter has not been written. An election looms, possibly as early as January. The fate of Canada may rest in the balance. Separatism runs strong in Quebec and is growing dynamically in Alberta. Another Martin Jr. government will only feed the flames of separation in both provinces... putting the lie to the Liberal Party mantra that it is the Natural Governing Party, the only party that can reach all Canadians. Such hubris no doubt feeds the arrogance surrounding Martin Jr. and his sycophants.
A Liberal civil war coming into the election is more distinct a possibility now. Sheila Copps' columns in the Toronto Sun and Warren Kinsella's blogging offer signs that a counter-coup against Martin Jr. is a-brewing.
How Martin Jr. reacts to the dissatisfaction within his group could go a long way toward deciding Canada's future... and his own.
Will he be the next victim of a disassociation campaign?