Monday, January 16, 2006

A Modern Shakespearean Tragedy

The reason Shakespeare's plays continue to be popular is because they deal with the human condition and universal themes that resonate with audiences.

They are generally divided into three categories: comedy, history and tragedy. A tragedy is when a great person is brought down by hubris or fate. They experience a fall in fortune as a result of their actions or in-actions. What we are witnessing is the final acts in a tragedy that has been developing over the last few years: Paul Martin's rise and fall as leader of the Liberal Party.


A Fall From Grace

Martin has worked for years towards his goal of becoming Prime Minister of Canada. He assumed the responsibilities of Finance Minister under Chretien's government and by all measures did a fantastic job. But, as with all tragic figures, actions taken have unexpected consequences.

People in the Liberal Party started to work towards undermining Chretien's leadership in order to advance Martin's goal of assuming the leadership of the party. Eventually they were successful but completely unaware of the seeds of destruction that they had already planted.

By accelerating Chretien's departure Martin was put at the center of the sponsorship scandal. Perhaps if things had taken their natural course the burden would have fallen more on Chretien and his supporters. Instead, Martin as leader was forced to deal with the issue. The untimely removal of Chretien also served to fragment the Liberal Party, something which would eventually come back to haunt Martin during the election. A team divided can't possibly succeed.


Be Careful What You Wish For

It's not important who was responsible for creating the rift in the Liberal Party between the Chretien and Martin camps. What is important is that this action created the foundation for the fall we are all witnessing.

What remains to be seen is how Martin will react on election night. There is already talk in the media about who will succeed him and whether he would resign on election night. Martin must by now have some magic number or what-if scenarios that he will use to guide him on election night.


Martin To Resign?

Several things would most likely seal his fate. If the Conservatives get a majority and the Liberals get less than 100 seats or if the overall Liberal vote is less than 25% or perhaps if Martin loses his seat in LaSalle then what's left for Martin to do?

The Liberals would be quick to look for a new leader to start rebuilding the party. Why prolong the agony by sticking around? In the event of a catastrophic Liberal loss the weeks following the election wouldn't be pleasant for sure.

Although the election is still a week away and in politics that's a lifetime, the final act of this tragedy seems unavoidable. Such great success early on only to be brought to this. Instead of assuming a place of honor in Canadian history it looks like Martin may be forced to take a seat at the kiddy table with the likes of John Turner, Kim Campbell, and Joe Clark. Shakespeare would have enjoyed this.


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8 Comments:

Blogger Brian FInch said...

Great blog. I am finally discovering the political blogs with intelligent discours and not having every post just call someone a name or insult.

I am with you on this one. I think it is a great tragedy. I think if the scandal was taken out of the picture and he had a majority to work with, we could have seen some very good things happen in this country.

My fear is that it will not be the Liberals punished this election, but those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

Remember one of Mike Harris's first acts was to slash welfare.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Brian FInch said...

Great blog. I am finally discovering the political blogs with intelligent discours and not having every post just call someone a name or insult.

I am with you on this one. I think it is a great tragedy. I think if the scandal was taken out of the picture and he had a majority to work with, we could have seen some very good things happen in this country.

My fear is that it will not be the Liberals punished this election, but those who are the most vulnerable in our society.

Remember one of Mike Harris's first acts was to slash welfare.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous cristo said...

Martin was probably the best Finance Minister Canada has ever had. Also, he personally didn't deserve the Adscam albatross around his neck... he seemed pretty honourable in kicking off the Gomery investigation. Lastly he can be a stirringly passionate speaker.

But, just like old Will Shakespeare didn't arbitrarily inflict tragedy on innocent victims (recall Othello's jealousy and King Lear's pride), I do believe Martin is responsible for his own downfall. In his brief career as leader, he was indecisive. In his attempt to gather input and please everybody, he ended up pleasing nobody. It seems like a case of the Peter Principle, where he rose above the level of his competence.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike Harris slashed welfare because it became a total mess under Bob Rae - who left behind a $60-billion deficit.

We need more politicians like Mike Harris and Brian Mulroney - people who look far down the road and not just until the next election.

This is why Conservatives will be far better than Liberals. Power is not their only end.

A safetey net is an important part of a society, however, in Ontario welfare was widely abused. We cannot afford to give people handouts because they'd rather drink beer and watch Days of Our Lives.

Welfare needs to be for the truly needy and disadvantaged - not the lazy.

12:24 PM  
Blogger Wild said...

This was a thoughtful and interesting post.

Paul Martin does indeed seem to be well meaning but never in control of his impulses.

He would act seemingly decisively only to chicken out and retract his decisions.

This trait revealed a man who was born to follow and not to lead.

Regards

Wild

http://bleedingbrain.blogspot.com

11:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Martin was not a great finance minister - he raised taxes and cut health care spending, big deal. A child could have programmed a cheap laptop to do that - especially while our biggest customers, the Americans, had a booming economy.

Martin has just run the country into defecit with his election spending spree before his gov't fell on corruption - he's a real slimy politician of the patrician kind.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

CDristo - do a google search on Paul Martin + Earnscliffe.

He was milking Public Works just the same as the rest of them were, just latched on to a different tit.

He used his influence at PW to get contracts for these jokers, so the taxpayers would foot the bill for his leadership campaign team.

1:29 AM  
Blogger D. B. Scott said...

I cannot let such exaggeration pass.Anonymous says the NDP in Ontario left a $60 billion deficit. Get a grip. It was less than a tenth of that and the Harrisites, when they left office, had made it bigger.

10:13 AM  

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