British magazine dubs Martin 'Mr. Dithers'

Paul Martin has been dubbed 'Mr. Dithers' by renowned magazine The Economist for his indecisiveness as prime minister.

Paul Martin has been nicknamed "Mr. Dithers" by a prestigious international magazine, which slammed the prime minister for being indecisive in his first 14 months in office.

The Economist, a British-based magazine read by hundreds of thousands of influential people, panned Martin's performance in an article headlined "'Mr. Dithers' and his Distracting Fiscal Cafeteria."

The article, posted on its website Thursday, says Martin seems like a faint echo of his former self – the tough, decisive deficit-cutter who won the respect of international economic circles.

"Mr. Martin, a successful finance minister for almost a decade until 2002, cannot quite shake off the impression that Canada's top job is too big for him," it says.

"His faltering leadership has earned him the sobriquet of 'Mr. Dithers.'"

Former prime minister Jean Chrétien and other Canadian leaders couldn't stop citing the magazine in 2003, when it published a cover story heralding Canada as "cool" for its stands on marijuana decriminalization and same-sex marriage.

Readers likely envy Canada: Martin's office

But Martin's office wasn't keen to embrace this issue of The Economist.

"Only [Economist] readers who live in Canada can say theirs is a government that is delivering an eighth consecutive balanced budget," Martin spokesperson Scott Reid told the Canadian Press.

"[It's making] record investments in health care, child care, cities and the environment while also retiring billions in debt.

"No doubt readers from all other nations will feel a good measure of envy for what Canada has – and is accomplishing under the leadership of Paul Martin."

Next budget critical for PM: magazine

The magazine criticized Martin for being too slow to push the government's own agenda – including the long-awaited foreign policy review – while bowing to provincial demands for cash.

It cites:

  • The $41-billion health agreement, where Martin agreed to give Quebec a special side deal.
  • The recent multibillion-dollar offshore oil royalties deal with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia.
  • Rumours of a special arrangement with Quebec in the $5 billion national child-care program being negotiated.

All of these developments have made the Feb. 23 budget unusually politically important, the magazine says.

"It should allow Mr. Martin to set some priorities, rather than responding to those of others," it says.

"But if Mr. Martin is to win that election when it comes, perhaps next spring, he will have to show more of his decisive leadership of old."