Jean Chrétien touts his legacy, takes shots at Harper

Tease the day: The former Liberal PM reminisces about his decision to withhold troops from the war in Iraq

Fred Chartrand/CP

Jean Chrétien makes news whenever he has an opinion. Ten years ago, Chrétien famously opposed sending troops to the American- and British-led war in Iraq. The former prime minister gloated to Canadian reporters about that decision, arguing that he never saw the proof of weapons of mass destruction promised by the U.S. intelligence community. Refusing to join the hostilities “turned out to be very important for the independence of Canada,” Chrétien told The Globe and Mail, which found room on its front page for the interview. “It was the obvious decision to make,” he bragged to the Toronto Star.

Chrétien may have waxed gloriously about his past success, but the cunning former PM used his time with national reporters to take some shots at Prime Minister Stephen Harper—and even boost his own Liberal Party’s image, as much as that’s possible. “What I notice is we seem to be playing much less [of a] role now [that] we were not elected to have a seat at the Security Council,” he lamented to The Globe, a broadside attack on Harper’s inability to secure a seat on the vaunted UN council. As for the Liberals, Chrétien told the Star that he thinks “the party is coming back, I’m very pleased with that,” and cited higher polling and thousands of new supporters as evidence. One thing’s certain: no matter the fate of his legacy or his party, Chrétien will always have the ear of reporters who are on the other side of an interview.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with an interview with former prime minister Jean Chrétien as the 10th anniversary of the War in Iraq’s first days approaches. The National Post fronts NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s mixed messages on the oil sands. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with $10 million the federal government paid a security firm tied to corruption allegations in Afghanistan. The Ottawa Citizen leads with fears the next parliamentary budget officer’s mandate will be weakened significantly. iPolitics fronts the predictable fiscal woes Alberta currently faces. leads with ongoing voting inside the papal conclave. National Newswatch showcases the Toronto Star‘s look at why so many Liberal supporters didn’t provide email addresses when they signed up.

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Doug Christie. Canada’s defender of the country’s most hated hatemongers—including Ernst Zundel, among others—died of cancer Monday, just weeks after making his final arguments in court. 2. Bill 14. If the Quebec government revokes the status of certain bilingual communities in the province, anglophones will protest in the streets, say critics of a controversial bill.
3. Rigged contracts. The Canada School of Public Service played favourites with contracts amounting to $1.7 million, according to a report released by the federal procurement ombudsman.
4. Armed Forces. Canada’s military has quietly reclaimed the “armed” moniker that disappeared in the 1990s, amid budget cuts and efforts by the then-governing Liberals to soften the forces’ image.

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