..I love ya, tomorrow..
Greg Weston is back from his two month convalescence following (brought on by? - ed.) the federal election, and provides some backup for Paul Wells' characterization of our PM as Little Orphan Paul.
Somehow the Martinis seemed to imagine that a new federal funding deal for health care -- a commitment involving the biggest government expenditure of taxpayers' money on anything in history -- would magically be cut over supper behind the closed doors of the prime minister's dining room.It has to be asked again. Jean Chretien announced his (future) retirement in August 2002. At that point Paul Martin had nearly mathematically secured the leadership. So what oh what on earth have Martin and his staff been doing for the past 25 months? They needed some time to finish vaporizing the other leadership candidates, and there was an election in there, but cripes! How is it possible that, based on the evidence, they are still totally unprepared to govern?
In the same fanciful dream, the federal script imagined a triumphant press conference and photo-op wrapping up the summit in time for lunch yesterday.
There for all Canadians to witness on live television, the PM and premiers would unveil The New Deal, fulfilling Martin's utterly fanciful election pledge to "fix medicare for a generation."
The first ministers would then part company with a round of self-congratulatory hugs and handshakes, no further health care meetings required for another generation.
It must have seemed like a good idea at the time.
Check this hilarious snippet from Wells' post-election piece in Maclean's:
Despite Martin's long years of preparation for the top job, the government's early months were chaotic. One chief of staff to a Martin minister says it took six calls to the Prime Minister's Office to get any action on a promise Martin had made in his Throne Speech. Another recalls a panicky call from the same PMO: "We need to announce something. What have you got?"
Shades of Springfield Elementary after the teacher's guides were stolen ("Does anybody know the multiplication tables!?!"). But there was an excuse. Wells again:
The basic problem, according to John Godfrey, Liberal MP for Don Valley West, was that nobody in the Martin entourage ever thought they'd actually have to govern before an election. The first Martin government was an improvised, interim affair; there'd be a more serious rethink once Martin had put the small matter of an election behind him.Godfrey, regardless of his faith at the time, was obviously wrong, or we wouldn't be hearing Weston report things like this:
From the first day of the summit, provincial officials were quietly grumbling to reporters that it was "amateur" -- poorly planned and seemingly running on the fly.How bloody embarrassing. Apparently, our national leader's office can't even make basic preparations for what they characterized, on their own, as the biggest meeting they are going to have ON THEIR #1 PRIORITY. They obviously have the wrong Queen's alum as Chief of Staff. It should be this guy; I understand he's a lawyer, who also possesses at least the rudimentary organizational skills required to operate a bowling alley.
One veteran of federal-provincial deal-making dating back to the failed Meech Lake constitutional debacle unaffectionately calls it all "Disney-on-the-Rideau -- it doesn't get any more Mickey-Mouse than this."
Of course, although I'm scoffing at the Liberal government for not doing anything, maybe I should be careful what I wish for.