Paul Martin — Au Revoir?
The Canadian prime minister speaks out on his country’s role in the world.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has battled hard to keep his job — now it is up to voters to decide whether he gets his wish. Regardless of the outcome of the June 28, 2004, election, Mr. Martin — who became prime minister only in 2003 — has left his mark. Our Read My Lips feature examines Paul Martin's views on the role of his country in the global community.
Mr. Martin, how do you see Canada's position in world politics?
“Canada is now in the position to take on the world — and win.”
How essential has Canada become for the global economy?
“We can bridge the differences between the most powerful economies and the least powerful economies.”
Is Canada going to follow the United States' lead in foreign policy?
“Contrary to what people might normally think, the greater integration of the two economies has not led to an integration of perspectives or insights. In fact, Canadians are clearly going the other way. I think that’s right.”
What can Canada teach the world?
“Canada has an opportunity — not to follow the States, not to follow Europe — to play the most important role in leading the world in the way in which it’s going to govern itself.”
Why do you think Canadians are poised for such a role?
"We, as Canadians, care deeply about the rest of the world — and the misery in which people live."
What is one area where urgent action is needed?
“Between the American agricultural subsidies and the European agricultural subsidies, we are not only making it impossible for poor countries to rise out of poverty — but they are totally distorting the entire trade structure.”
Would you support unilateral action without United Nations support?
“Multilateralism through the UN system is clearly our preferred approach. However, the absence of consensus in the UN should not condemn us to inaction."
When would you be prepared to go it alone?
"In appropriate circumstances — and when consistent with our values — we should be prepared to use the means necessary to achieve our international goals when full consensus on the right steps is not possible.”
How do others view the impact Paul Martin will have on Canada?
“Paul Martin will accelerate the Americanization of Canada. He will support tax cuts that benefit the wealthy — and make further cuts to already decimated social programs.”
(Mel Hurtig, Canadian writer, November 2003)
Mr. Martin, is there any way to find a middle ground between the Canadian and U.S. taxation systems?
“Look, you can have a country like Canada. You can have a country like the United States. But you can’t have a country like Canada with the taxation levels of the United States.”
Why are some observers so critical of his political ambition?
“The Martin juggernaut was built almost completely on the strength of organization alone. The style of the Martin machine — tough, aggressive, with the brute strength of numbers and reliant on the party hierarchy — was at odds with his team’s avowedly more democratic, networked approach to people and ideas.”
(Susan Delacourt, Ottawa journalist, November 2003)
Mr. Martin, how can government stay in touch with the governed?
“Society evolves. It’s the responsibility of government to reflect that evolution.”