Saturday, June 12, 2004
Was Martin's absence from Reagan funeral a mistake?
In today's Toronto Sun, Peter Worthington (still one of the better conservative writers in Canada) makes the strange argument that Paul Martin's decision to not attend Reagan's funeral was a mistake.
Worthington's rationale involves the appearance of looking small, as well as symbolizing the kind of direction Martin is taking with our relationship to the US.
However, Martin's attendance at his third state function on foreign soil during the middle of an election campaign would have given off terrible domestic signals - especially because we're talking America and Reagan here.
Liberals have gone far in this country by maintaining cool overt relations with the Americans. Indeed, Mulroney's eulogizing of Reagan would probably be seen by many as further evidence of the too cozy relationship the two countries had during that Prime Minister's governance of Canada.
I just don't see the damage it does to Martin domestically. It may have been a pathetic gesture from an international relations perspective, which matters very little during Canadian elections.
Despite my respect for Peter Worthington, I really don't see where he's coming from on this one.
UPDATE: Actually, I think I see where he's coming from - the perspective of doing the right thing as a matter of statesmanship and international protocol. Worthington even provides an impressive list of current and former world leaders who did attend, such as Mikhail Gorbachev and Hamid Karzai. But they're not in the middle of an election campaign, and they're domestic political situations differ from that of Martin here in Canada. So, Worthington may have a point, but it's not one I think Martin needs to worry about right now. In the long run, Martin would prefer increased support on the home front versus a short term increase of esteem on the international scene. Don't forget, he is a Liberal.
UPDATE 2: I also see where he's coming from from the perspective of doing the honourable thing in general, especially from a Canadian conservative standpoint. Still not very applicable to Martin the Liberal, in my opinion.