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PM's comments a good start

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In one united voice we cried out for it, and this past week our wish was granted. Still, something in me believes that there are many who were taken aback and left unsatisfied.

Prior to his scheduled appearance on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, few Canadians were aware of Prime Minister Jean Chretien's date with American prime time television. Following the March 9 interview however, the ears of Canadians from coast-to-coast perked up.

"In my judgement, it has been won," Chretien said. "You know the president has won. I have no doubt about it."

When he was prompted by an obviously intrigued Stephanopoulos, the prime minister elaborated.

"He has created a situation where Saddam cannot do anything anymore. He has troops at the door and inspectors on the ground. Planes flying over and he cannot do anything, and he started to destroy missiles, there's no nuclear danger there.

" You guys; you won the Cold War, without one tank, one missile and losing one life," continued Chretien. "And there's the same thing in Iraq, in my judgement."

While the interview likely drew increased interest from the politically aware in the United States, it wasn't as pertinent as, say, what the French or Germans have to say. It was an irritating break from the American point of view, but nothing worth getting too worked up about.

North of the 49th, is a different story altogether.

After weeks, months even, of being poked and prodded publicly by the opposition and privately by members of his own party, Chretien finally took a position.

I, for one, say kudos to him.

I was admittedly surprised when I heard what he had actually said--pleasantly surprised. A war that was seen as a forgone conclusion as recently as a few weeks ago is starting to look like it could be avoided. A direct reaction, it would seem, to increasingly vocal opposition to the prospect of war has trickled in some way through the doors of 24 Sussex.

The odd thing is, Chretien's comments aren't in concurrence with official Canadian foreign policy which has yet to rule out any kind of military involvement in an unsanctioned American offensive on Iraq.

This fact has not gone unnoticed.

Opposition parties, from the Alliance to the NDP, are criticizing the prime minister over the lack of international clarity when it comes to Canada's position on the Iraqi situation. The difference this time is that the buzz has gone beyond Parliament Hill and the Capital Region, making its way to water coolers and dinner tables across the nation.

And that, beyond anything else, is the greatest outcome of the whole situation. This time out, Chretien's garbled and confused statement has initiated dialogue and discussion rather than the eye rolls we've all gotten so good at over the past decade.

Now, we just need a little clarity... but I'm not holding my breath.

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