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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Chretien: Jimmy Carter, he's not

August 20, 2008

Adam Radwanski Blog
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
August 18, 2008

In railing against the Conservatives' stand-offish attitude toward
China, Jean Chretien didn't go out on much of a limb this morning.
But the apparently ferocity of his attack, and his mention not just
of skipping the Olympic opening ceremonies but of honouring the Dalai
Lama, were a little less diplomatic than one might hope for from a
former prime minister.

It may be that Chretien is just especially passionate about Canada's
economic well-being. But given how he's generally handled himself
since leaving office, this was a bit of an eyebrow-raiser.

For starters, with the exception of national unity, Chretien hasn't
been especially passionate about any policy issues since leaving
office - at least not enough to bother speaking out. What he has been
passionate about are his own business interests, many of which have
intersected with the emerging economic power he thinks we should be
more friendly toward.

Unlike south of the border, we don't have the expectation that our
former leaders will rise above the fray to become elder statesmen
capable of transcending party lines. Chretien doesn't need to go to
the same lengths as Paul Martin, an inferior prime minister who's
proving a more impressive post-prime minister - using his standing to
advance policy goals at home and abroad. But if wants to start
re-engaging in the public debate, he'll need to be careful to avoid
appearances of conflict.
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