U2 rocked Canada’s national capital last week. From all reports it was a great show.
As he has done in other nations capital cities, Bono took advantage of his time in Ottawa to speak to the Prime Minister and the other party leaders about his life mission – finding a solution to Africa’s HIV/AIDS pandemic & Making Poverty History. He made this comment after meeting with Paul Martin,
"I’m mystified, actually, by the man," the U2 lead singer told a news conference Friday. "I like him very much, personally."
"I just think that it’s a huge opportunity that he’s missing out on. This is important to the Canadian people. I think the prime minister will find out if he walks away from the opportunity to (boost foreign aid) he will hear about it in the election. I am absolutely sure of that."
Mr. Martin and his Liberal party were defeated by a Non-confidence motion in the House of Commons last night, triggering a winter Canadian election. You can be sure that Liberal spinmeisters will only quote Bono’s "I like him very much, personally" comment. But "mystified" would be the appropriate response to Mr. Martin.
This is a man who has worked to be Prime Minister of my country, perhaps since his father’s second failed attempt to become Liberal party leader – an attempt he lost to Pierre Trudeau. In 2003, Martin Jr. effectively pushed out the sitting Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, to achieve his goals. (He had lost the party leadership in a bitter battle with Monsieur Chretien in the early 90’s. )
Fabulously wealthy (his net worth is estimated to be almost a quarter of a billion dollars – 15 times that of George Bush), Mr. Martin’s last brass ring to grasp was that of leader of Canada. He will do whatever he can to retain that position.
The Liberals have been in office since 1993 – by any reasoning, too long to avoid the corrupting nature of politics. Numerous scandals have rocked the party, but none hard enough to topple it. The Adscam/Gomery Commission tale in any sane country would be enough to remove the party in power. But who said anything about Canada being sane.
Even though he was Finance Minister at the time, and the minister most responsible for Quebec, Mr. Martin claims he knew nothing about what was going on. (As we know his vicious tongue disqualifies him from being the Say No Evil monkey – so he must be either the See No Evil or Hear No Evil biped.) I, and many Canadians, find this hard to believe. But will there be enough of us to remove him from power?
A direct result of Adscam is the emergence of a revitalized Separatist movement in Quebec. Yet, last night in his "rally the troops" speech, Mr. Martin claimed to be the only leader capable of withstanding the national aspirations of the chronically angry Quebecois. That is utter nonsense.
Mr. Martin has attempted to purchase this next election with his orgy of outrageous promises for future government spending. Bono may be mystified as to how Paul has broken his promise of increasing foreign aid to .7% of our GDP – but the reality is that, with this Prime Minister’s fiscal irresponsibility in promising the proceeds of our presently full coffers, there is little money left over. Martin cares only about retaining the post for which he’s longed most of his adult life. The plight of the world’s sick and poor is not that important – they can’t vote for him.
This will be a vicious campaign, led by a man who desperately wants to remain the Canadian Prime Minister. The end of this firestorm may well be one of the last gasps of the present iteration of the young nation of Canada. I hope it won’t be so – but that hope is faint.