Was anybody surprised by Paul Martin's announcement that he is leaving politics? You shouldn't be. I wasn't. I had a sneaking suspicion he would do this if he lost the election. My suspicions were further aroused when that clip of him playing cards with his family was aired. Rather than watching the incoming election results, Martin sat with his back to the television screen and concentrated on the game he was playing with his family. I don't think he did that out of arrogance. I think the writing was on the wall and he saw it.
Why did I suspect he would step down if defeated? Elementary my dear Watson. Martin inherited a majority government from Jean Chretien. He then turned that majority in to a minority in 2004 and then from there Her Majesty's Official Opposition. Not exactly a stellar resume highlight kids. Then there is the little matter of that nasty and quite public power struggle between Chretien and himself which deeply divided the Liberal Party. In fact they still haven't come to terms with it and suspect they won't for some time yet. There remains a lot of bitterness in the party and feelings of resentment towards Martin despite his best efforts to purge the party of the Chretien loyalists. Martin had no choice but to leave. I'm certain that had he not made the decision to do so of his own accord he would have had a "helping" hand.
Of course stepping down is also the honourable thing to do considering the scandals that have plagued his administration. I don't know for sure that he participated in, or had personal knowledge of, any of those scandals but as Prime Minister he is ultimately responsible.
Having said that I would like to set aside partisan politics for a moment and thank Martin for his service to Canada. Political life is not an easy one. It is often a cutthroat business and a thankless job. It takes a special kind of person to enter public service and he was in it for the long haul. Paul Martin didn't have to work - he is a multi-millionaire. Whatever your opinion is of the man or his beliefs one cannot dispute his dedicated service to this country.
With that we close the book on this chapter in Canadian history and look to the future. And with the Conservatives leading the way it looks awfully bright from where I'm sitting.
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