Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Canada's Political Kingpin Wobbles in Public's Eye

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Canada's Political Kingpin Wobbles in Public's Eye

Article excerpt

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien is weathering the worst political storm of his three years in office. Whether it is just a squall or a full-blown blizzard remains to be seen.

Mr. Chretien's government has been pelted in the past month with one large chunk of bad news after another - not a good way to begin a likely election year. And Chretien, who has previously shed problems as though he were as Teflon-coated as Ronald Reagan, is finding some of it sticking.

Restoring voters' faith in government has been Chretien's goal since his 1993 landslide victory. During that campaign he pointed to his "red book" of campaign promises written down for all to see. But a Jan. 27 poll shows 72 percent of Canadians say they would not believe campaign promises in any future red book, largely because a few key promises, such as attacking Canada's uncomfortably high 9.7 jobless rate, have gone unfulfilled. The prime minister's troubles began in December. When an unemployed woman from Saskatchewan on a televised "town hall" show told Chretien she couldn't find a job, instead of "feeling her pain," Clinton-style, he told her to "move." On the same TV show, the normally sure-footed Chretien also denied he had ever made a 1993 campaign pledge to dump the much-hated national sales tax. After the show, there was so much criticism that even the obdurate Chretien was forced into a half-apology. Since then, an ongoing military scandal has grown. And a health-care scandal involving the nation's blood supply widened to include documents destroyed by federal bureaucrats. Finally, and most galling to Chretien, archrival and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney won a high-profile libel suit against the government - inducing yet another apology. Not surprisingly, the once rock-steady public support for Chretien's Liberal Party has dropped - along with his personal popularity. Chretien had pledged honest government that earned citizen trust. This "trust factor" is slipping, pollsters say. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.