Volume 96, Issue 3

Thursday, June 6, 2002
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"Real" world?

Off the cuff of glory

Ivey brings in the bucks

Gay and lesbian info hits the web

Western engineers hit the finish line in Michigan

London health officials battle "tanorexia"

Ship Liberal sailing into very rocky waters

Darth Chretien?

Double cohort applications process unclear

In the eyes of a reporter in sweats

Of egos, ethics and ignorance

News Briefs

Ship Liberal sailing into very rocky waters

By Emmett Macfarlane
Gazette Staff

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien shocked the country – including its political scientists – on Sunday when he replaced finance minister Paul Martin.

The second cabinet shuffle in as many weeks came during a storm of controversy for the Liberal government.

Last week, amid accusations of corrupt ethical practices in the distribution of government contracts, Chrétien ordered all members of his caucus to stop fundraising for a leadership race that may or may not occur before the next election. Martin, whose leadership aspirations have always been thinly veiled, responded by saying he had to examine the options for his political future.

Nevertheless, Sunday's shuffle came as a shock to everyone.

"I think – like everybody else – I'm amazed," said Western political science professor Ian Brodie.

According to Brodie, in over eight years as prime minister, Chrétien has been slow in his decision-making. "[And now] the one thing he's moved quickly on is getting rid of the most effective person in cabinet," he said, adding that if Martin was to press for a leadership review he would have to move quickly.

Robert Young, another Western political science professor, agreed with Brodie's sentiments. "He would have to decide that [immediately]."

Young said the situation could have disastrous implications for the Liberals. "It's terrible for party unity and it could get much, much worse," he said. "It's conceivable that [Martin's MPs] could threaten to topple the government, [however], I don't think that's likely."

According to Paul Nesbitt-Larking, professor of political science at Huron University College, the controversy is not necessarily a crisis for the Liberals – every party needs to have its complacency threatened, he explained. "A challenge is vital for the democratic process," he said.

"The one advantage the Liberal Party [has] is that the opposition is not very effective," Nesbitt-Larking added.

Opposition leaders, particularly Stephen Harper of the Canadian Alliance, have an opportunity to change that, according to Brodie.

"If your opponent is blowing themselves apart, just go ahead and let them do it," Brodie said, adding Harper also needs to put his own party's house in order.

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