Puzzled Canadians wonder who's running the country
( 2003-10-09 10:52) (Agencies)
Who's running Canada these days? Answers on a postcard please.
In theory it's Prime Minister Jean Chretien, who plans to retire next February.
In recent weeks Martin has made high-profile visits to British Columbia to talk to firefighters who battled devastating forest fires and to eastern Canada to view damage caused by hurricane Juan in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, where he promised special government aid.
He has summoned the premiers -- or first ministers -- of Canadian provinces to a meeting next month. And on Tuesday night he convened a session of Liberal legislators, a right usually exercised by only the prime minister.
The opposition Canadian Alliance party is angry at what it sees as Martin's irresponsibility and at parliament's inability to question him about his plans -- in particular a federal budget due next February.
"The new Liberal leader is promising to spend taxpayers' money and to change legislation .... How will Canadians be able to hold (him) accountable for all these promises and actions?" Alliance leader Stephen Harper asked in Parliament.
And referring to a case of a stolen government computer containing personal details of thousands of Canadians, he added: "We have a more serious example of identity theft. We apparently have someone running around the country saying he is the prime minister and organizing first minister meetings."
Martin, who denies he is trying to push Chretien out, said he needs to talk to people across the country about his plans.
Legislators said Tuesday's meeting had been much more enjoyable than the regular caucus meeting on Wednesday chaired by Chretien, which broke up half an hour earlier than usual.
"Last night, after three hours, they had to cut short the list of speakers. Today no one wanted to speak," said one member of parliament.
Liberal legislator Jim Karygiannis, asked why so few of his colleagues had turned up for Wednesday's meeting, replied: "Probably people had other things to do."
Chretien, who sacked Martin last year, shrugged off the incursions by his rival and suggested the legislators who attended Tuesday's meeting had baser motives -- the need to curry favor in hope of winning good positions under Martin.
"I don't intend to be a chairman of a committee in the next government," he said.
But unease about Martin's behavior has spread to the editorial pages of some leading newspapers.
"Why in Heaven's name is he jetting around the country as if he were already prime minister?" asked the Globe and Mail.
"For him to behave now like a national leader is not only unseemly, but constitutionally dangerous. It raises the specter of a government in which true power lies outside the legal apparatus of the state."
The Montreal Gazette blamed both men "for this confusing, dispiriting, ignoble and graceless spectacle", adding: "Martin needs to just clam up."
|.contact us |.about us|
|Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved|