About a week before the federal election, a Quebec newspaper has published leaked excerpts from former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin's memoirs detailing his bitter rivalry with Jean Chrétien.
Martin’s autobiography,Hell or High Water, is expected to arrive in bookstores in three weeks, but Le Devoir obtained one of the book's final drafts and published its contents on Monday.
The revelations from Martin, who reportedly has counselled Stéphane Dion during the campaign, are likely to challenge the Liberal leader's assertion that his party is united heading into the Oct. 14 vote.
The paper reports that Martin’s book details his childhood, his climb to the top job at Canada Steamship Lines, his years in politics, and how he and Chrétien disliked each other right to the end.
According to the paper, Martin devotes several chapters to his bid to take over leadership of the party from Chrétien and the two years he served as prime minister, in which he accuses Chrétien of putting their rivalry ahead of the good of the party.
Chrétien’s changes to party financing rules and the way he managed the sponsorship scandal also seriously hurt the Liberal brand, Martin is quoted as writing.
Martin also writes the collateral damage victim of the war between the two men is Dion, as the Liberal party in Quebec is but a shadow of its former self.
Sponsorship report a 'time-bomb'
Martin goes on to write that one of Chrétien’s most inexplicable decisions was to cap donations to political parties at $5,000, which he said hurt a party that was used to generous donations from banks and larger corporations.
Martin also writes that he was furious at Chrétien for proroguing Parliament in November 2003, thus delaying the "time-bomb" of the auditor general’s report into the federal sponsorship program until he took over the leadership of the party.
That meant Chrétien avoided having to deal with the sponsorship scandal and left it squarely in Martin’s hands, he writes. If Chrétien had accepted the report while still in office, that would have shown a sense of responsibility and would have protected the future of his party, Martin wrote.
"We ended up losing the communications battle on the sponsorship question. Honestly, I don't know if it could have been won," the paper quotes him as writing.
But Martin writes he has no regrets doing his national "mad as hell" tour in calling for an inquiry into the sponsorship program.
Zaccardelli slammed income trust probe's handling
Martin also offers scathing words for former RCMP commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli over the Mounties announcing a probe was being launched into the former Liberal government's handling of an income trust taxation decision in the middle of the 2006 federal election.
Some analysts have said news of the investigation contributed to the defeat of Martin's Liberals at the hands of Stephen Harper's Conservatives in January 2006. In the end, the Mounties charged a senior civil servant in the Finance Department with breach of trust.
Martin writes that the only question is whether Zaccardelli's action "can be explained by ineptness or whether it was a premeditated malicious act.
"In my view, no one can be that inept," he writes.
Earlier this year, the Mounties' complaints chair said he found no evidence to suggest Zaccardelli deliberately meddled in the last election, although the former commissioner refused to co-operate with the complaints body or shed any light to his motives for releasing sensitive information during the campaign.
Zaccardelli resigned in late 2006 after admitting he gave misleading testimony to a House of Commons committee into the deportation and imprisonment of Maher Arar.