Why Canadians may not want Martin as their next prime minister
By Sue Potvin

There's been considerable sympathy for the man who was so surprisingly dumped from his spot as Canada's finance minister recently. The question is, is the sympathy deserved? Was Paul Martin snuck up on? Or did Martin, in his quest for time for the campaign trail, set the prime minister up so that he had no other choice?

A book might be written on Martin's activities during his lengthy term in charge of the country's finances. But let's not lose sight of some important points as we console him in his recent loss:

1. Right off the mark, he cancelled the Tory helicopter purchase -- at a cost of millions, as well as the loss of important Canadian jobs that would have gone along with the contract. After years of playing fast and loose with the lives of the men who must work with the old Sea Kings, now he's committed Canadians to spending as much again, and more. to have the same helicopters built in another country.

2. Early in his ministership he (and his cohorts) started directing excessive taxpayer dollars into Quebec -- whether for glamourous buildings, for advertising contracts, to prop up corporations, or whatever -- to a level higher than any other province.

3. Enron has nothing on Martin when it comes to creative accounting -- he moved those numbers around to produce any result that achieved their goal of the moment.

4. In drastically cutting transfers to the provinces, he has crippled Canada's health care system, education, police systems and other services to a point where it will take a generation, at least, to recover. The savings made here, however, permitted generous pay raises for the politicians.

5. Martin bears at least some measure of responsibility for the decline of the Canadian dollar.

6. Our Armed Forces has seen such financial cutbacks that men are sent into war under-equipped and without trransport to get there. It has difficulty even rotating 1,000 personnel in Afghanistan, one source says.

7. Canadians are overcharged to build up an Employment Insurance fund to levels beyond need . Why? So that Martin can appropriate the surplus funds to top up his budget shortfalls?

8. Martin was charged by some MPs with being in a conflict of interest situation (at the very least) with respect to areas of the tragic blood scandal. He did support a cabinet decision to fight the Krever commission in court, thereby preventing it from naming names and assigning blame.

9. In 1997, Martin described the problem of child poverty as "the great social policy challenge of this generation," but he's done precious little, if anything, to effect change in this area.

10. There's more, but this last one portrays the ethics of the man who expects -- insists -- Canadians pay their taxes like good little citizens: As the owner of Canada Steamship Lines, Martin has been keeping his company offshore so he wouldn't have to pay taxes on its profits to Canada. How many other companies follow this example, thereby shuffling yet more of the tax load onto the shoulders of average Canadians?